Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ impressive 127-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James shared his thoughts on the up and coming Lakers, singling out head coach Luke Walton and Julius Randle, who played the best individual game of his career on Sunday.
The Cavs had no answer for Randle, who scored a game-high 36 points on 77.8 percent shooting from the field to go along with 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks and a steal in his 38 minutes on the floor.
“Everybody’s had a hard time with him as of late,” James said of Randle, and he’s not wrong.
In his last 15 games, Randle is averaging 20.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. Per stats.nba.com, the only other players averaging at least 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists per game during that time are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook and James himself.
Randle’s also improved tremendously as a free throw shooter. After shooting well below 70 percent from the charity stripe before the All-Star break, Randle has made 81.3 percent of his free throws in March, bringing him up 73.7 percent on the season.
With the help of Randle, the Lakers will finish the season with at least 30 wins, something they haven’t accomplished since 2013. James credits their success to the culture Walton has built since signing on in 2016.
“Since Luke took over, they’ve improved every single season I think, and you just try to implement that ball movement, that body movement, that he got when he was in Golden State,” James said of Walton.
If Walton can get his young team to finish with at least 36 wins, he will have improved the Lakers’ record by 20 wins over the past two seasons, an impressive feat for any coach, let alone a second-year coach with a handful of first and second-year players.
The Lakers were hoping to leave a lasting impression on James as he heads into free agency this summer and it looks as though they did that. Whether it’s because of Randle, Walton or rookie Lonzo Ball, the Lakers have the King’s attention.
All quotes are courtesy of Lakers sideline reporter Mike Trudell.