Julius Randle has been covered on LakeShowLife for well over six months. It’s fortunate that he was able to fall onto the Lakers’ laps as the #7 pick.
Throughout his freshman season, he played well beside another great prospect, Willie Cauley-Stein. If Cauley-Stein declared for the draft, there’s no doubt he would have been a lottery pick as well. Injuries caught up to him late in the season, and he chose to stay at Kentucky for one more year.
The Lakers chose to find an ideal complement to Julius Randle, who plays similarly to Willie Cauley-Stein. His name is Ed Davis.
Out of North Carolina, Ed Davis was the #13 pick by the Raptors back in 2010. Like many projected high-upside picks, he has the physical tools and the athleticism to be a great player. According to DraftExpress, he stands at a full 6’9″ without shoes with a 7′ wingspan. While that seems like an average height and length for an NBA power forward, his standing reach of 9′ allows him to play center.
Ed Davis and Willie Cauley-Stein are similar players around the hoop. Offensively, they show deft touch around the paint. They like to crash the offensive glass and finish with authority. Ed Davis’s mid-range jumpshot is in progress, but there’s some hope considering he improved his free throw percentage well over 10% prior to playing for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Defensively, both players are average rebounders, but really look to protect the rim. Willie Cauley-Stein has high defensive IQ with his ability to maintain defensive position, know when to block shots, and stay out of relative foul trouble. Ed Davis, as a senior out of North Carolina, averaged nearly 10 rebounds per game and 3 blocks per game. Coming into the NBA, his rebounding rate has been consistent with his minutes, but his shotblocking abilities have dropped. Still, he is a rim protector and the physical tools are still there for him to become an elite level shotblocker if he wants to be.
Last year, Davis had a 16 point, 11 rebound game against the Suns. This video is a great demonstration of his post abilities up to 15′.
One thing that the Lakers aren’t really known for, is player development. It is perceived that the Lakers pick up developed players through free agency, and their output doesn’t improve. Looking at last year, it can be perceived that Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, and Robert Sacre all had a breakout year. Sure, the minutes increased, but the quality of play increased to warrant more playing time. Henry had his improvement cut short with an injury late in the year, but it was clear how well he could attack the basket off the drive. Jodie Meeks earned a substantial contract from the Detroit Pistons. Nick Young carried the Laker team throughout last season with his offensive production and energy off the bench. Sacre wasn’t as foul prone as he used to be, and showed solid footwork in the post and a glimmer of a midrange jumpshot.
The Lakers now have two lottery picks in their front court. Imagine how they can harness that talent.
Julius Randle may receive a lot of attention early as a lottery prospect. He’s known for his abilities to attack the basket and play in the post. Ed Davis, plays a bit more off-the-ball. They make for a great complementary frontcourt, something the Lakers can build upon toward the future.