Julius Randle to Lakers a good fit
JUN 26, 2014 9:31p ET
Before the Joel Embiid love affair took off, there was a mega event at the beginning of the college basketball season -- the Champions Classic at the United Center in Chicago.
The main event was Andrew Wiggins and Kansas taking on Jabari Parker and Duke. The eventual No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the 2014 NBA Draft were sensational in their own right.
On the undercard, if you will, and arguably having the most impressive performance of the top freshmen in the country showcased that night was Kentucky forward Julius Randle.
The Kentucky forward was dominant in the second half of a narrow 78-74 loss to Michigan State. He scored 23 of his game-high 27 points in the first half and finished with 13 rebounds.
If you buy into the notion that Randle was in the discussion to be the No. 1 pick in the draft as the calendar turned to 2014, then the Lakers got a steal in selecting him with the No. 7 pick Thursday.
For the Lakers, a team with just four players on their roster signed for the 2014-15 season, the task was simply to get the best player available. In Randle, they appear to have done that.
With a near-empty roster, it would appear any player to the Lakers would be a good fit, but Randle in Purple and Gold certainly fits the bill.
"We're very pleased to have Julius," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "We think he has a chance to be a heck of a professional."
Randle couldn't be any happier after being picked by the Lakers. While describing his meeting and workout with the Lakers earlier in the month, Randle said it felt like "home." In addition, he says his workout with the Lakers was his best by far.
The icing on the cake for Randle is the opportunity to play with Kobe Bryant.
There is not a more ferocious competitor in the NBA than Bryant. For a glimpse of how competitive Randle is, one needs to look no further than his performance against Michigan State early in his freshman season.
He single-handedly put the Wildcats on his back as they cut into a 12-point halftime deficit.
An impressed Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo called Randle "ornery and nasty" following the performance.
Will he be able to carry that same toughness and relentlessness to the Lakers? If so, he'd likely find himself a favorite of Bryant, although the future hall of famer may not show it immediately.
"Although I don't expect Kobe to talk to him until January, I think he'll like (Randle)," Kupchak said.
Randle averaged a double-double with 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds in his lone season at Kentucky while setting the school's freshman record for double-doubles with 24.
The offseason is far from done for the Lakers. Following Nick Young's decision to opt out earlier this week, the Lakers are left with four players under contract for next season -- Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, Kendall Marshall and Kobe Bryant. Marshall's contract is a team option.
As has been highly publicized, the Lakers have a little over $34 million on the books for next season, leaving them with a ton of money to spend.