With the seventh pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected power forward Julius Randle of Kentucky.
At 6’9, 250 pounds, Randle is already a force in the low post. His body type and left-handed post game are why comparisons to Zach Randolph make a great deal of sense, but Randle could actually a transition into slightly better athlete at this level with the proper strength and conditioning. He’ll never be considered a “high-flyer” by NBA standards, but Randle does possess the type of shiftiness and agility to score over and around bigger or more athletic forwards and centers. He already possesses the strength and “nose for the ball” to be a highly effective rebound immediately upon entering the league.
“I think I should have went higher in the draft, but you know the teams that passed on me will regret it,” Randle said. “But I’m not worried about it. You know I was offered some great advice before this – ‘It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish’ – and L.A. is a perfect spot for me. I’m really happy to be going there.”
Much was made of a recent Yahoo! Sports report that questioned whether teams would be scared away by an old high school foot injury that required a screw to be inserted for stability, but it is clear the Lakers’ medical staff was comfortable with their findings with the 19-year-old’s records.
Randle could stand to develop a few alternative post moves, but he’s already adept at turning over either shoulder in the paint, and has a very dependable jump-hook. As more and more teams are utilizing power forwards in a stretch-four capacity, Randle’s conditioning could play a vital role in how effective he is at defending some of his more versatile counterparts.
With so many unanswered questions in Los Angeles, it was important for them to not only select a player that could instantly contribute, but one that also felt comfortable enough under the bright lights and particularly with the scrutiny and pressure that comes with playing alongside Kobe Bryant. Randle expressed no fears or concerns with that prospect throughout the pre-draft process, and it now appears his dreams have come true.
“I get to go play in a great city, a great franchise that expects nothing but championships, a great market, great organization, and Kobe Bryant..you know, my idol growing up. So, I couldn’t be more ecstatic in where I’m going.”
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