Julius Randle’s Skill Game Standing Out

Darius Soriano —  July 16, 2014

The Lakers are back in action tonight in summer league, facing off against the 76ers in the first round of the “tournament” that has become the second half of the LVSL.

And while the results of this game matter — if the Lakers win they advance, if they lose their summer league is over — I’m not really going to get worked up over what the final score is. If anything, I want them to win only so I get to see more of Julius Randle (and to a slightly lesser extent Jordan Clarkson).

Randle’s performance is, ultimately, the major takeaway from this team. While there are other players who have shown promise, it is the player who the Lakers selected 7th overall whose performance matters most.

In Randle’s first game he did not perform very well and looked like a player who had only signed his contract 20 minutes before tip-off while also doubling as someone who had not played much basketball in recent months. His timing was off, he looked a bit sluggish at times, and wasn’t able to find a rhythm.

In his second game, however, he looked more like the player who many think can have a good impact in his rookie season:

While that clip is just shy of 3 minutes, there are several things that stand out to me.

First is that Randle possesses a very nice combination of quickness and power. On several plays he uses a surprising quick step to gain an advantage on his defender and then is able to hold that man off or body up a second defender using his frame. Regardless of the level of competition, these two traits will serve Randle well as the way you create separation in this league is either through outstanding footwork or physical prowess. Randle seems to have the latter and, coincidentally, also flashes some of the former.

The second thing that stands out is Randle’s skill level and ability to play out on the floor. This is where the Zach Randolph comparisons seem woefully out of touch. Randle seems to prefer to step out to 15-18 feet, face up his man and use his dribble to attack the paint. Employing some good ball-handling and a nifty spin move, Randle is able to get to closer to the rim and use his soft touch to convert. Randle also showed off good awareness when creating off the bounce, spotting open teammates on the wing several times, especially when help came at him from the corner.

What is also clear from the clips above is that Randle isn’t close to yet being in “game shape”. You can see him breathing heavily and looking fatigued after playing more than 5 or 6 consecutive minutes. You can also see that there are times when he’s a beat behind in either getting to a defensive rebound or in making a rotation on the back-line of the D. The latter, of course, was one of the concerns about his game coming out of Kentucky. The former, however, is not as Randle was one of the more consistent rebounders in the nation. I expect to see his work on the glass improve as he finds his legs and gets his full timing back.

Overall, however, there’s a lot to like here. Randle looks quick and strong while having a nice touch around the rim. He seems plenty athletic enough to play at this level and has good size. His skill level as a ball handler and a passer seem to be fairly refined for a player of his size and those are things that should only get more crisp over time. And when you consider that he’s not played much 5-on-5 since the national title game back in the Spring, the hope is that his wind and timing will also only improve.

Of course, let all the caveats of “it’s only summer league” follow everything that I wrote above. We’ll see if Randle can follow up good play in Vegas with good play in Los Angeles, and San Antonio, Oklahoma City, etc, etc. The NBA season is long and the caliber of athlete and player he’ll find in the opponent’s jersey come November will not be the same he’s seeing in July. That said, he has the tools to be a good player. Hopefully he can continue to learn to use them as his rookie year unfolds.

Darius Soriano

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23 responses to Julius Randle’s Skill Game Standing Out

  1. Based on the clip, if he learns to shoot he can be an all star. If he doesn’t learn to shoot, then despite that nice first step, he better rebound and defend. He doesn’t look like he has the explosion the finish at the rim in the NBA.

  2. Nick Van Exile July 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Randle looks like a tweener in a good way. Too strong for small forwards, too fast with handles for power forwards. Gotta work on that 15-18 footer though to keep from being overplayed by real NBA defenses.

  3. Bmcburney I can show you at least 20 clips that will prove your comment wrong about lacking explosion. The guy can finish with the best of them.

  4. Seems like he doesn’t want to go to his right. Once they scout him, defenses will sit on his left and Julius will need to adjust. Surprisingly good handles and speed though, even while not being in game shape.

  5. Randle looks good to me. i like how he is unaffected by contact. i like that he gives more damage than he takes. obviously, he needs a 15-18′ jumper, but if he’s as hard a worker as he appears to be, he can fix that.

  6. “Too strong for small forwards, too fast with handles for power forwards.”

    Those were always the words I used to describe Karl Malone.

  7. The best thing about Randle is his attitude which includes work ethic. He knows he has to get stronger,improve his shooting and right hand to not just compete but be among the best. A star pupil for Kobe.

  8. JUNIOR MAIL MAN!

  9. Eric,

    I don’t think so. In clip after clip he had an advantage but couldn’t finish with authority. He looks clever around the rim and he will probably get some points that way but a guy that is having trouble finishing against the summer league is going to have more than trouble in the real league. He needs to shoot or he becomes Stevie Thompson without the leaping ability. But I am not a hater. He is big strong kid, has a nice first step, can handle the ball and appears to have good court vision. It is easier to learn to shoot from 15-18 feet than it is to get those other qualities if you don’t have them. If he learns to shoot, I love the pick.

    He shot well from the line at KU so I don’t see why he can’t learn to shoot a 15 footer in the NBA. With a first step like his, NBA power forwards will give him room to shoot (at least until he makes some).

  10. I wouldn’t say Karl Malone, more like a hybrid of anthony mason mixed with derrick Coleman.

  11. Given that he still needs to get in better shape, I’ve enjoyed watching his game so far. He’s quicker than I thought he’d be, and I really like his ability to finish with contact. If he has half of Kobe’s work ethic, he could def turn some heads in the league.

  12. One of the bright spots of this year will be to see Randle develop. Lakers do not usually have the luxury of showcasing a rookie. If you guys think about it, He has a chance at rookie of the year based on the minutes he wil play and the contributions we would need from him just to be decent this year.

    I disagree that this team is less talented then last year.

  13. @ajyMasseo i agree with you, so far this team looks more talented than last year. Lin is an upgrade over anything we fielded last year and if Randle can deliver and Kobe stays healthy and we all know he is on a mission i expect that this team will leap fwd, not world beater but definetly not a 27 win team. If Kobe comes back close to what he was and i dont put him past him, is going to be a hell of an entertaining season, no championship obviously but we could challenge for a lower seed thats my hope. Obviously this is summer league but Randle should help right away. What we need is for this long coach search to be over. It’s time.

  14. Ed Davis has signed a two year deal…now these are the kinds of low-risk (somewhat potential-filled) signings we should be looking at.

    https://twitter.com/WojYahooNBA/status/489598476867866624

    2 year deal with player option on the second.

    For those who don’t know Ed Davis was drafted by Toronto and the center-piece of the Rudy Gay trade. For his first two years in the league he played limited minutes, but posted very strong per minute numbers. When traded to Memphis, playing behind Randolph and Marc Gasol, his numbers and playing time diminished. He is a good rebounder/shot blocker and should serve as the 3rd big in the rotation behind Randle and Hill. I would expect him to play more of the backup center spot with Kelly getting the majority of the backup pf minutes.

  15. Looks like Lakers signed Larry David.
    Should be funny year.

    Oh., what? It’s Ed Davis. Ok didn’t he used to be a Laker.

    Any info on him?

  16. Bmcburney, truthfully you couldn’t be more wrong, he was fouled in that play where he tried to dunk. As many have mentioned he is not in game shape and when a player tends to get tired his lift goes first so even if you aren’t impressed from these clips you need to have perspective. It’s summer league! Where was he having trouble finishing in those clips btw? He was fouled in two of the plays? Something he will continue to do, he racks up foul shots.

    Need proof? Okay here you go

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt8pMZ7Gg-M

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuyD3JOwnug

    The guy is an insane athlete. Also he is 19 years old, give him a few years with an elite strength and conditioning coach and wow look out. BTW his body fat % is already 9.5% so he’s in great shape, just needs to get his wind. He is a stud

  17. Well Ed Davis is a defensive minded power foward looks like, i read he held opposing PFs to 43% fg so im glad they bring some D in.

  18. I really hope I’m wrong but I’m still not seeing things that would brighten my outlook. I am somewhat bullish on Clarkson. And if read Darius tweet right Ed Davis, I think fills a need for a FC nicely.

    I think it would be pretty hard to be worse then last year. Still I’m not expecting that much. I didn’t expect the team to be a contender this year but, I don’t think the Lakers did a good job of looking to to use their cap space to get more future talent with the exception of the Lin deal.

  19. Randle appears to have no problem passing the ball. Great skill to have playing with #24.

  20. hahaha Darius dropping it on Randle haters with a whole post dedicated to the troof. I can’t believe anyone would watch him play and still doubt his potential he is a stud. He is super crafty around the rim which is a great sign for such a young player. He consistently is beating grown men off the dribble from 20 ft out. He is finishing in an array of ways off the glass. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but he’s also great at slashing to the rim and getting himself open and finishing, I mean SMASHING the ball down. He looks for the ball which is a great quality for a young player, he’s tenacious. People hate on his defense as if he’s been in the league 10 years and just can’t get it together. He’s 19. Him and Clarkson are both really impressive. Great drafting, great move for Lin for now and future flexibility, I like the move to keep swaggy because his contract is going to look much healthier on the other side of a new cba so those last few years won’t look bad, I like keeping hill on a 2 year deal, Ed Davis is a great value signing. Would have been awesome to get Stephenson and it’s disappointing but if the Lakers can round it out with Wesley Johnson, Henry, Kelly or 2 of those 3 I would have to call this off season a success overall.

  21. @Fern I agree with you completely. I tend to think the team was not truly a 27 win team last year if Mike D isn’t the coach. For me it isnt so much the Xs and Os but the player personality management that was lacking. One thing I loved about Phil was a stable rotation, guys knew the intervals they were entering a game. It was crazy to watch the last two years as Mike D would play a guy 3 games then sit him 4 games. Playing Kobe 40 mins a game, constantly citing abstract stats that post shots were not effective, FRUSTRATION!

    Kobe doesnt need to be 25pt scorer for this to work. I think that is the exact reason it was good to lock up Nick Young, he is a gunner and Kobe needs someone who is unafraid to shoot the ball. How many times did we see people get stage fright when he was on the court? Now Kobe can slow it down a bit, go for maybe 18pts, 5 rbs and 5 asst but you have Nick to give another 18, Randle another 14pts, Hill 10pts, and Lin/Nash 10-12pts. Now your starters are giving you almost 65 to 70 pts a game, that along with a half decent scub bench will keep us competitive. Lets not talk Defense its too early in the morning.

  22. Looks like he has the potential to develop into. Very good 3rd option on a championship level team. Good get

  23. Eric,

    Clips of guys just messing around in the gym is not going to do it for me. NBA 4s and 5s put up more resistance then air. He needs to learn to shoot. If you want to impress me with clips from the gym, show me clips of him working on his shot.