Rookie forward Julius Randle is eager to show the Lakers they made a smart choice by taking him seventh in the NBA Draft in June. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)
The Lakers selected rookie Julius Randle with their seventh overall draft pick, believing he would become a significant piece toward their rebuilding process. But the Lakers never anticipated the impact would happen right away.
Randle instantly gushed about playing for his favorite team (the Lakers) and teaming up with his favorite player (Kobe Bryant). But after starring for one season at the University of Kentucky, Randle hardly expected to receive a starting nod, immediate praise and instant success in the NBA.
So it hardly seems surprising that Randle has encountered some initial struggles. Or that Lakers’ coach Byron Scott has offered some tough love both with Randle’s playing time and public comments about him.
The most vivid example happened in the Lakers’ 119-86 preseason loss on Thursday to the Utah Jazz in Anaheim. Then, Randle posted only four points on 2-5 shooting and one rebound before sitting out in the entire second half.. The Lakers reported Randle had blisters on both of his feet, but Scott said he still sat so he could benefit more from watching the game unfold from the sidelines.
“I still don’t think the last couple of games he could play as hard as he could play,” Scott said of Randle after the game. “It’s a much faster game. He has to learn how to let the game slow down. But the biggest thing is the effort and physical part of it and playing hard every single time he’s out there. I know he’s thinking a lot right now. There’s a lot to think about on both ends of the floor. I know it might take some time, but I expect him to get it.”
After spending the end of Friday’s practice working endlessly on post drills with various Lakers assistants, Randle walked over toward a small group of reporters. A friendly albeit reluctant talker, Randle seemed to anticipate what was coming.
What did he make of Scott’s harsh criticism?
“He should,” Randle said. “Those [veterans] are proven. I shouldn’t be treated the same as those guys. I haven’t done anything. I have to hold myself responsible. I can’t worry about what other guys do. The only thing I can do is hold myself accountable and improve every day.”