The mid-range jumpers do not always fall for Lakers forward Julius Randle, leading Lakers coach Byron Scott to offer some fairly pragmatic feedback.
“I still want him to attack the rim,” Scott said. “But you have to keep the defense honest by looking to take that shot two or three times a game.
The mid-range jumpers surprisingly have gone in for Lakers rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. leading Scott to ask for more and more.
“I talk to him during the game, ‘Shoot the ball, son,'” Scott said. “You have wide open shots.”
Randle may have averaged 10.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. He may also rank eighth in the NBA and first in his sophomore class in cleaning the glass. But Randle has shot only 40.3 percent from the field, including a 13 percent clip in a recent four-game stretch before going 41.7 percent from the field in Sunday’s loss to Utah.
His teammates have publicly encouraged Randle to shoot more. So has Scott to a degree, recalling he has told Randle “to keep shooting when he has opportunities to shoot it.” But Scott sounded pessimistic how much his numbers will actually improve because of improper mechanics.
“Probably not much. We don’t have that much time to work on it like we want to,” Scott said. “We can’t change it until the summer time when we can spend tons and tons of hours working on the mechanical part of it and then obviously when you do that, it’ll take him some time to get confidence in it. So we’re not going to change it right now at this particular time. That would be useless.”
Meanwhile, Nance Jr. has kept his starting spot over Randle partly because he has become useful with his mid-range game. He has shot 54% from the field. Over the last nine games, Nance Jr. has made 61.8 percent of his shots. If he had attempted enough field goals to qualify for the league leaders, Nance Jr. would rank as the NBA’s most accurate power forward ahead of Denver’s Kenneth Faried (53.4 percent).
That explains why Scott and Nance Jr.’s teammates have pleaded for him to become more selfish on a team filled with high-volume shooters.
“When you’re passing it back out, two things happen,” Scott said of Nance Jr.’s reluctance to shoot. “He’s starting to lose confidence. We’re running out of time. You have to take that first available shot that he has. It’s getting him to remember that and having confidence in himself.”
Nance Jr. maintained he has confidence in himself. But he admitted he needs to reboot his offensive mindset.
“I’m programmed for extra pass so I catch it and think immediately, ‘Who’s got the best shot?'” Nance Jr. said. “It’s taking me a little while to realize it’s me. That’s what you’re seeing when I hesitate.”
Randle hardly hesitates when he shoots. But as he has carved a niche a bruising power forward that can assume ball-handling duties, Randle acknowledged he needs to add more software to his system. Scott predicted, “he’ll definitely put the work in.”
“You have to keep the work ethic and the rest will take care of itself,” Randle said earlier this season. “I have to keep getting better at it. Those are areas that I’m working on. I’m trying to get better at them. If I key in on those, I’ll create a lot of problems.”