Julius Randle had a frustrating rookie season, watching from the sideline for all but 12 minutes of his first campaign while healing up from a broken leg. Randle’s frustrations continued through summer league this past July as a he had a strict minutes restriction that saw him capped at 20 minutes a night while also sitting out back to back games.
Heading into the season, however, the hope was that those frustrations would dissipate. Randle has been working hard on his game, his body, and, via word of mouth, he looks very good. Just because he’s progressing nicely, though, does not guarantee his frustrations will be fully behind him. Especially if he was hoping to get a solid endorsement from his head coach about being the starting power forward once the season began.
In a sitdown with the OC Register’s Bill Oram, Byron Scott talked about a wide variety of topics, but these answers about Julius Randle and his potential to start did stand out to me:
Q. Similarly Julius has that year under his belt but not on the court. Very high expectations of, “Will he start?” How do you try not to give him too much too quickly?
A. Kind of the same way I brought Jordan along. I won’t throw these guys out in the fire unless I think they’re ready. No matter if they were the second pick or the 46th pick?
Q. Should we take that to mean Julius won’t start right away?
A. You should take that to mean that Julius has developed nicely, and I’m waiting to see when he can go a full practice every day for the next two weeks. That means training camp throughout the preseason games. And then we’ll go from there.
It’s perfectly fair for Byron to take a wait and see approach with the young players — including Randle. He may be entering his 2nd year, but he hasn’t really played any NBA level basketball outside of last preseason and the past two summer leagues (and I wouldn’t even call those “NBA level”, honestly). If the coach wants to see more from the kid in practice and this upcoming preseason, I don’t see why that’s a major problem.
That said, while a lot of the focus is on D’Angelo Russell developing into a future star to push the Lakers back into the conversation of competitive teams, Randle’s development is just as important. He will need minutes and a lot of rope to play through mistakes in order to get to where he needs to be as a player. After being drafted with the 7th pick in 2014, Scott would (sometimes subtly, sometimes not) call out Randle in the press for various miscues or what he wanted to see more of, keeping him on a pretty tight leash in the process.
This upcoming season, I am hopeful his stance softens. Not because Randle won’t deserve some hard coaching (all players do, at one point or another), but because the investment and potential payout he represents is vital to the team’s success. This isn’t to say that Randle should start — though that’s what I would like to see.
Ultimately, I am hopeful this is much ado about nothing. Bringing the rookies along slowly is fine, but their development is one of the key priorities of this season and Byron, rhetoric aside, surely understands this.
I think this is smart. Make him earn and appreciate it. Who cares if he starts at all this year. It is all about development. I will be disappointed in him if he doesn’t do enough to start. Kobe came off the bench his first year, Clarkson didn’t start until late in the year, Bynum didn’t start until year 3 if I remember correctly. No one will care in the future if he started his rookie year or not. All that matters is that he develops and works hard.
Neither Julius Randle nor D’Angelo Russell may be in the starting line up at the outset. It’s entirely possible that either or both could be coming off the bench initially. And if that happens, that would be OK.
It’s vitally important that we take a long term view of their development. Let’s make sure that they grow and mature and learn.
What is of greater significance is how their play improves over the year. If we see an upward trajectory, that would be terrific. Whether they start or not this year is almost irrelevant.
Now…next year (2016-17), I would expect them to be starters. But this year it really doesn’t matter. I just want them to show me that the Lakers have a future. If they do that, I’ll be very pleased.
J C says
If Randle is as solid as touted by many he’ll earn a starting role soon enough.
Like a few have voiced, I have some concerns about his game, for example, his shooting range seems limited; and his bull-his–way-to-the-hoop style that served him well at the collegiate level may take time at the NBA level to become effective, if it ever does.
So I do think Brandon Bass has a chance to begin the year as a starter, especially given Byron’s natural instincts to favor veterans, and because I fully expect Russell, as our expected franchise savior, to be given a starter’s role immediately.
That being said, I’m absolutely rooting for Randle to exceed all expectations and perform eventually like his original draft projection (top 3) would justify.
If Randle’s style of play is Lebron-ish in nature, and his body can withstand the rigors of an 82 game season and additional games if the team makes the playoffs performing in that style, he should go for it. This season, he can count on iterative whistles from NBA referees until they exhaust themselves making the call or adjust to his game. At which point, Julius will establish his Lebron-ish game in the annals of the NBA.
If any of the rookies or second-year players covet a starting position, then they should earn it first. If that urge is within these players, dangling that carrot out on a stick for them to pursue is the optimum way to achieve a team replete with athletes that play for the competition and love of the game.
Laker uruguayo says
No es una decisión fácil. Si los Lakers piensan que pueden llegar a los play-offs, intentarán poner en cancha el mejor equipo disponible. Randle tiene un techo alto, pero tendrá que demostrar que su presente es mejor que el de Bass. Para ello tendrá que agregar variación a su juego, que es demasiado previsible para este nivel. Si el sueño de postemporada desaparece, y la prioridad pasa a ser el desarrollo de los novatos, tendrá más minutos. El mismo escenario puede presentarse para Russell, frente a formaciones con Marcelo Huertas o con Clarkson y Kobe, si vuelve Metta.
Byron puede comenzar con un equipo experiente (y seguramente más lento), y tener una segunda unidad más joven y más ágil. De todos modos, no es tan relevante. En un deporte que permite el cambio permanente, lo importante no es quien empieza el juego, sino quien lo termina en los partidos cerrados. Y si no, pregúntenle a Ginóbili.
Ovid Mercene says
After watching basketball for almost 40 years I don’t know of any starters on a team that is a rookie. More so to a player who has never played the NBA and to a player that only played a few minutes of actual NBA time. Please don’t get me wrong. Julius Randle and Russell will be the next big ,potential,Superstars of the Los Angeles Lakers. Let us not forget Jordan Clarkson. This trio will be the next heir to the throne since Kobe Bryant hit the bench of the Los Angeles Lakers 20 years ago. The successor to Kobe Bryant will not be an individual person but a trio of super talented players the league has ever seen .We’ve all seen their potential. THEY MUST BE DEVELOPED AND MOTIVATED just like every superstar that played this game. We’re all idiots if we fuck up this one. Remember what the Black Mamba said.
– This sounds logical to me at this time. Training camp hasn’t even started yet. Coach Scott is correct, starting jobs s/b earned. Absolutely no issue w/ this.
– Also recently read Kobe will have a hard cap on his mpg…another obvious and logical decision. At last brain cells at work in Lakerland.
pat oslon says
If JR or any of the rooks play up to their potential this season they should get plenty of playing time. However they have to earn everything that they are given.
If JR or D-Lo live up to their expectations then starting next season would be a no-brainer.
I would rather Randle and Russell come off the bench to start the year. Play against other bench guys,less likely to pick up fouls,play at a faster tempo especially with Hibbert out. More important is who finishes games. To do that, they must prove they can play solid D and be able to hit their FT`s consistently.
Translation of the comment above as per my iPhone app:
It is not an easy decision. If the Lakers think they can reach the play-offs, they will try to put the best team available in court. Randle has a high ceiling, but will have to prove that your present is better than the Bass. To do this you will need to add variation to his game, which is too predictable for this level. If the postseason dream disappears, and the priority becomes the development of rookies, you will need more minutes.
The same scenario can occur for Russell, front formations with Marcelo Huertas or Clarkson and Kobe, if Metta.
Byron may begin with an experienced team (and probably slower), and have a second drive younger and more agile. Anyway, it is not so relevant. In a sport that allows the permanent change, important thing is not who starts the game, but who ends up in the closed games. And if not, ask them to Ginobili.
Laker uruguayo says
Thank you, LKK! My english isn’t very good. What matters it’s we’re Lakers’ fans. Go Lakers!
J C says
I think MWP on the roster could help Randle’s game. Metta could still be a great defender in short spurts too.
MWP is still a tough-minded competitor.
We just don’t him as Randle’s shooting coach. Haha
De nada! You have good thoughts worth hearing!