Julius Randle, Kentucky, Power Forward, 6-9, 250 (Stats: 15.0 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.4 apg)
Thanking God for today. Thank you to my family, friends, & fans for supporting me on this journey. Honored to be a LAKER! #LakerNation
— Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) June 27, 2014
The Lakers came into the draft in a very interesting situation. With only three rostered players, the team did not have the luxury of picking based on need, but instead was able to use its pick on the best available talent.
That is exactly what they got with Randle. One of the best basketball players in the country this past season at Kentucky, Randle impressed the Lakers at his individual workout, not just with his basketball skill, but his attitude and the way he conducts himself as an individual which goes a long way when being an athlete in media heavy Los Angeles.
Concerns about Randle’s height came into question throughout the draft process, but his tenacity and style of play will surely translate to the NBA. A throw-back forward who would rather do damage in the paint and on the boards instead of away from the basket, Randle’s frame along with his drive will be problematic for opponents as Randle will rarely get outworked.
Randle led the country with 24 double doubles last season, good for second most in Kentucky’s history which has produced players such as DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis in recent years.
As with any young player, there is room for improvement. Randle is a lefty and as with many players has issues with his off-hand which teams took advantage of at times by forcing him to go right. His passing needs work but it is important to remember that Randle faced constant double teams, which resulted in turnovers and forced shots at times. Defensively, he is a rock down low and hard to back down, but might have problems with the taller forwards in the league. He is far more athletic than what he is given credit for and that will help in his development on both ends of the court.
Then comes the issue with his foot. The situation is that after breaking his foot in high school, a screw was inserted into Randle’s foot but incorrectly. The bone did not heal the way some doctors would like but it has yet to hinder his play. The Lakers will decide whether surgery is necessary for the forward but Randle says he would be ready in time for training camp in three months.
The best part about is he is just 19 years old (turns 20 in November). After being drafted, he certainly said all the right things and seems to have an attitude that Kobe Bryant will like, which goes a long way when playing for the Lakers. When it comes down to it, the Lakers got the pick right which should make fans happy.
Randle Quote: “I think I should’ve went higher for sure, but you know, the teams that passed on me will regret it.”
LakerNation Grade: A
Jordan Clarkson, Missouri, Guard, 6-5, 186 (Stats: 17.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.4 apg)
— Jordan Clarkson (@JClark5on) June 27, 2014
The Lakers were able to purchase the no. 46 overall pick from the Washington Wizards and the draft rights to Clarkson, a guard who had himself a nice season for Missouri last season after playing his first two years at Tulsa.
Many expected Clarkson to be an early second round pick in the draft. Considered to have first round talent, Clarkson slid on draft night and the Lakers were able to snag him for good value in the second round.
Clarkson ran point guard for a majority of the year at Missouri and did a decent job because of his strong ball handling and vision, but there was a transition period for the player who was comfortable at shooting guard. For a combo guard, Clarkson has good size at 6-5 and has a nice first step when attacking the basket.
He will need to work on his perimeter shooting as he shot 28 pct. from beyond the arc but the positive is his game is about getting to the basket and getting to the line where he shot 83 pct. If anything else, he provides the Lakers with versatility off the bench as he continues to improve his game.
In recent seasons, the Lakers have had success with second round picks, notably Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly, so there is hope Clarkson is another player that can be serviceable early.
LakerNation Grade: B
It is safe to say the Lakers were successful on draft night. I would have personally liked to see them acquire a late first round pick or early second rounder as there was great value there, but it is hard to complain about the draft. With two pieces in place, the Lakers can now turn its attention to hiring a head coach and NBA free agency.
It remains to be seen if the Lakers flip Randle in a deal after July 1st, but it would be nice to keep a young player like him on the roster moving forward as he can develop into something special. Depending how the summer goes, Randle could find himself as a starter at power forward come opening night and will be in the conversation as a Rookie of the Year candidate.
For a team that had three rostered players, adding pieces to the puzzle is necessary and the Lakers did just that. They did not try to shock anyone with its pick or get desperate in the draft, they simply made the most logical and best choice at the time. After some head scratching decisions the past few years, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
LakerNation Final Grade: A