Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton wants an aggressive Julius Randle offensively.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been in evaluation mode for a while. The playoffs were never a reality, especially after they committed to the youth movement around the NBA trade deadline.
Fully committed to playing the young players, there were a number of things that the team was looking for.
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Head coach Luke Waltonsaid that he was hoping the team could end the season with some positive momentum. That has certainly begun happening at the expense of their NBA Lottery position. The Lakers are currently riding
The Lakers are currently riding a four-game winning streak as their youngsters are beginning to put things together. Victories over the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves are solid no matter who is resting for the other teams.
Randle is very talented. His head coach in college at Kentucky, John Calipari, spoke highly of Randle following the Lakers victory over the Kings during the weekend. Randle had a big game, scoring 25 points with six rebounds and two assists.
“If you can just get a bunch of guys that will fight every possession, you’re winning,” Calipari recalled saying to Walton as he exited Staples Center late on Friday night. “The dude is going to fight. He’s going to fight for balls. He’s going to fight defensively. He’s going to fight for his own position.”
Calipari also discussed the competitiveness that Randle had, as he just wants to win, and that he enjoyed coaching him. Walton now has the pleasure of coaching him and is pleased with what he has seen during his first season on the Lakers sidelines.
One area that Walton was specifically impressed with is his offense. Walton said that he has a great feel for the game offensively and can put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses.
“Julius plays with a lot of feel, especially on the offensive end,” Walton said. “When he’s attacking the rim and making the pass when the pass is there and when the helpside defender stays home on his shooters, that’s when I think he’s at his best.”
While he has the ability to do that, Walton would like to see it happen more consistently. Consistency is more often than not the No.1 thing holding back a young player from taking the next step.
The Lakers backcourt needs to find consistency as well, which is part of why the team committed to giving the youngsters so much playing time to end the season.
Walton is hopeful that Randle can remain aggressive, as his effectiveness drops if he remains on the perimeter instead of attacking the basket.
“He struggles when he wants to float around the perimeter and shoot jump shots,” Walton said. “We’re fine with him shooting it. His shot has gotten a lot better. But we still need him to be a big man that is a vicious roller and someone that is constantly attacking the glass and putting pressure on the defense.”
Randle has shown what he can do when he is engaged. He can be a force offensively as he has good ball-handling skills and the ability to get to the rim whenever he wants. But, as Walton stated it, he will sometimes float to the perimeter, which lessens his impact on the game.
All big men want to be guards, and all guards want to be big men. With how the NBA game is transitioning, you need big men that can succeed on the perimeter. Randle has the capabilities to do it, and Calipari believes he can succeed at it as his confidence grows.
“What I see is a guy who is more comfortable with what he’s able to do. He plays to his strengths,” Calipari said. “I just want him to shoot some 3s and pick-and-pops. I want to see more of that only because I know he can do it. But I’m telling you, his mentality is ‘I know what I’m going to do and I’m going to play to win.'”
If Randle can work that perimeter game into what he currently excels at, the Lakers could have a monster on their hands. He is already difficult enough to handle without a consistent perimeter game.