Los Angeles Lakers News & Rumors: Is Julius Randle Key to Team's 2014-15 NBA Playoff Hopes?
The Los Angeles Lakers enter the 2014-15 NBA season with a lot more questions than answers.
Kobe Bryant will be playing his 19th career season in the league, and the future Hall of Famer is coming off a season which he played just six games. The team's biggest offseason addition, Jeremy Lin, will be starting at point guard with a lot of expected minutes, especially with Steve Nash out for the season.
Of course, we still have to see how new head coach Byron Scott adjusts to this squad as well.
But there is another big factor to consider: the Lakers' first round draft pick, Julius Randle, who could be the key player to watch this season for the Lakers.
The Lakers drafted Randle No. 7 overall out of Kentucky. Randle has a big responsibility this season because Pau Gasol is no longer on the team. During his tenure with the Lakers, Gasol was one of the best power forwards in the entire league. While Carlos Boozer will likely still get more playing time, Randle is a very important piece for the Lakers this year.
Randle only played one season at Kentucky, but he made the best of it. Randle averaged 15 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game while shooting over 50 percent from the field. In his first preseason game against the Denver Nuggets, Randle made five of nine shots, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Randle is just 19 years old, and most likely will come off the bench for the Lakers. Throughout the preseason, Randle had his ups and downs, as most rookies do in this league. Byron Scott recently said, "He's really starting to learn. He's understanding what we need to do on both ends of the floor." The Lakers will need Randle for his offensive and defensive skills this upcoming season.
Although Bryant is far past his prime, Randle can learn a lot from the five-time NBA Champion.
Randle isn't the second coming of Karl Malone or Tim Duncan, but he does have an underrated jump shot. Randle is also a good free throw shooter for a power forward. Most signs point to Jordan Hill and Boozer leading the front-court, but the Lakers may want to consider using Randle in the starting lineup if changes are needed.
Randle still has to work on his defense and post-game scoring. The Lakers are facing an uphill battle this season after losing a franchise-record 55 games last year. Obviously most eyes will be on Bryant and Lin, but don't lose sight of Julius Randle.
The Lakers begin their NBA season at home against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 10:30 p.m. EST. That game will be shown on TNT.