Despite his comments that the Los Angeles Lakers still value winning over the the development of their young players in their last 27 games of the season, head coach Byron Scott told the media after the team's Friday shootaround that he plans to start Julius Randle the rest of the year.
According to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, Scott said that this move is in part due to the team wanting to ease Randle's fellow young power forward Larry Nance, Jr. back into the lineup as he returns from a knee injury, but also because of how well Randle has played. The sophomore forward has averaged 12.8 points and 11.8 rebounds on 45.8 percent shooting since moving in to the starting lineup, and the 101.8 points per 100 possessions the Lakers have scored while he is on the floor is the third best mark on the team among players to play in all 13 of those games.
While Randle's starting spot has come at the expense of Nance, Jr., the team should also be looking to get more minutes with both of them on the floor to see if they can play together, something Nance, Jr. has said he hopes is coming.
In a limited sample size of 44 minutes together, the results of the pairing have been promising, with both Nance, Jr and Randle shooting more efficiently when they are coupled together due to the increased spacing on the floor. Lineups featuring the two have also only been outscored by 6.2 points per 100 possessions, as opposed to the team being outscored by 10.8 points per 100 possessions on average.
Randle earning his way back into the starting lineup is a good sign for his long-term development, and if his fellow lottery pick D'Angelo Russell joins him before the end of the season it would give the team a chance to demonstrate that its youth movement is headed in the right direction.
All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.