The 2014 draft pick hasn’t been guaranteed into the top-5 for the Lakers just yet. We are all hoping for the best pick possible. Some may agree on drafting the best player possible, regardless of position. Some may agree on drafting by position to create an easier fit. The Laker team needs help everywhere, but there’s a player in the draft that could fit well as both the best player available and the best player by position. His name is Julius Randle.
Kentucky plays a style that is uptempo, a bit loose on offense. There is defensive discipline to the team, mostly based on interior defense. Willie Cauley-Stein creates tremendous impact with his shotblocking ability and help defense. It’s Julius Randle that provides the muscle, the activity, and cleans up the backboard.
Honestly, the Lakers need both kinds of players. Right now, getting a guy who can grab defensive boards would help the team tremendously.
Hypothetically, Julius Randle would be playing beside Pau Gasol. The Lakers could get away with Pau Gasol at center. Julius Randle has the lateral quickness and strength to handle the power forward position defensively. Not only does this put Gasol in a position where he’s more comfortable defensively, but it makes it easier for the Lakers to handle team defensive situations. They would be less reliant for help.
Offensively, educated fans may see conflict. Both players operate at the low and high-post areas. Unlike Dwight Howard, Julius Randle has a developing midrange jumpshot from 17′ out. His range, footwork, and activity allow Gasol opportunities in the painted area without much traffic. Pau Gasol in return, could give the same opportunities to Julius Randle, who is tough on the low block himself.
Video link of his skills here; Julius Randle gets 19 Points and 15 Rebounds Against Kansas State
The Lakers lack true toughness in the half-court set, and rely on a transition game to bypass contact in the paint. Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre bang around in the paint the most. They come off the bench. Randle does it for over 30 minutes per game, sometimes fouling out entire NCAA frontlines.
The crazy idea is, that Julius Randle could extend Pau Gasol’s career. Magic Johnson did that for Kareem by implementing the transition game. Kareem didn’t have to fight so hard in the paint with rebounding or within the half-court set. He got a few breaks on offense. Randle, essentially, would be relieving Gasol from contact in the paint. Gasol’s game has always been about skill and finesse. His best years were done fighting through the contact while using his versatile skill set. With Randle at his corner, Gasol’s shots may be easier.
On the flip side of things, Randle could learn a lot from Pau. One of Randle’s greatest opportunities is creating plays for others. Gasol not only has the court awareness, but the passing ability to make his teammates better. Julius Randle with passing ability would be a scary thought. He’s already a bulldozer when he’s attacking from the high post. Imagine would he could do with a polished post game and passing skills.
Both players help each other out in the long run. Perhaps this is why Pau Gasol hasn’t received a contract extension just yet.
If Gasol is retained and Randle is drafted, Mike D’Antoni’s offensive style will be taking a backseat.
As long as the Lakers win, that’s all that matters.