Below is a recent conversation I had with Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, who talked extensively about Lakers forward Julius Randle and his potential.
What’s your impressions of Julius Randle?
Green: From the first time I saw him play, I just loved the intensity that he played with, the fire, the dog, the passion and fire that he played the game with. You see a young guy like that, coming into the league at 19 years old, No. 1 you respect it. But you want to do what you can to help him be successful. At the end of the day, we are competitors. We’ll play against each other four times a year and possibly in the playoffs. But it’s not about that.
One thing I was always taught by [former Warriors assistant] Pete Myers is he used to always tell me is, ‘You get paid for the next young guy to get paid. That’s your job. You give it back to the next young guy.’ No. 2, you want to continue to help the game grow. The more the game grows, the better a position everyone is in. Obviously if there is something you can help a younger guy with, you want to do that. You see him grow, and that will grow the game to get better. Everyone benefits from it. Obviously a guy like that where you see the way he competes and the skill level that he has, I see something special. You just want to see it come to fruition.”
What was your message to him about embracing being undersized?
Green: “I know every time, maybe not anymore, but before I made my name, everyone would see me as, ‘Oh he’s too little’ and think they’ll destroy me. They think they’re going to take advantage of me because of my size. But for me, that was always a challenge.
How do you overcome that? What can I do to overcome that and prove everybody wrong? The odds were against me and everyone was doubting me. So what can I do to prove everybody wrong? What can I do to show that doesn’t matter? Size doesn’t matter. That was my motivation.”
What did you think of last year’s preseason game when Julius said you couldn’t guard him?
Green: “I didn’t see that he said I couldn’t guard him until after the fact. I saw that my Twitter was blowing up on my phone. I was wondering what this is about. When I saw it, I was like, ‘Oh okay. All right.’ I told him the next game, ‘I appreciate you getting me going for this next preseason game.’ I love to see somebody compete like that. That’s a lost thing in this game. To actually see that, it’s like, ‘All right. I know I can guard you. Now I’m going to show you.’ At the same time, I personally love to see that. That’s how I grew up playing. To see somebody the same way, it’s not all lost. It’s great to see.”
Did you go back at him?
Green: “I definitely wanted to. It’s like, ‘Okay, you think I can’t guard you.’ I went and watched and told [Warriors special assistant to Coach Steve Kerr] Nick U’Ren, ‘Julius has that move where he comes full speed at you.’ I told Nick he killed me with that move a couple times. I didn’t know how to stop it. So I told Nick, ‘I need you to go through every time he does that move going back to Kentucky and last few games he played and preseason. I need you to pull the move [on video]. He pulled up the move and it was probably 50 clips of that move. I watched it over and over and over again. That’s the competitiveness. It’s always good to have that bring that out in you. He did that. I respect that.”
What do you think is Julius’ long-term potential?
Green: “I think he can be real special. With the skillset he has and the body, he’s long and athletic. The way he handled the ball at his size and the way he can move at his size, it’s special. He has one thing you can’t teach. That’s that dog and that heart. You can’t teach that. If he continues to work, which I know he will, Julius, the way I view Julius the first time I came into the league, he seemed like a guy who had always been bigger and stronger and more athletic than everybody. So nobody really taught him how to play the game. He was playing off of God-given talent.
It was funny. I used to always tell Luke [Walton], ‘Man if somebody teaches him how to play the game, he’s going to be special.’ You see the passes he makes and how he sees the floor. It’s God-given. I’ve watched him over the course of the last 2 ½ years, you continue to see his game grow and grow. He’s starting to figure out the NBA game. He’s continued to work on his game and figure stuff out. If he continues to do that like I know he will, I think he can be special.”
What do you think of the talk on whether Julius can be the next Draymond Green?
Green: “I think it’s cool because he can do the stuff that I do. He can handle the ball. He can make plays for other people. He can defend. He’s super strong. He can rebound the basketball. So I think he can [be the next me]. I also think he has the potential to be better. With the God-given gifts he has, he has the potential to be better.”
To be better? But you’re also going to get better, too.
Green: “I’ll continue to grow. I’ll never stop working and I’ll continue to get better. But what is he? 21. That’s a lot of time to continue to grow. The thing about him you can’t teach is his heart. When you have that heart and type of dog, you’re going to work. I think he can be really really really good.”
What advice did you give Julius when you guys trained last summer with Team USA?
Green: “I feel like sometimes he was out there trying to fit in. One thing I told him is, ‘You’re not a ‘fit in’ type of guy. Be you. Get out there and play your game.’ I think if he ever had the opportunity to do something with USA again, that’s something he’ll really have to focus on. It’s about playing his game, and not Coach K’s or Coach Pop’s. They’ll figure out how your game fits in and make it work. But he got to play his game. I don’t think he really played his game. I think that’ll be big for him.”