The Lakers selected Julius Randle with the seventh pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. Here’s a look at Randle and how he fits with Los Angeles:
Bio: Kentucky | Freshman | Power forward
Vitals: 6-9, 250 pounds
2013-14 stats: 15.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 blocks, 50.0 FG%
Strengths: Randle is one of the most NBA-ready players in this draft, with a pro body to go with a diverse skill set for his size. His ability to handle the ball, face up and take defenders off the dribble or back them down lets him exploit mismatches. When his jumper is on (which wasn't terribly frequently), he can pull big men away from the paint. He’s a bruiser who plays hard, and it’s easy to see his productivity on the interior translating to the NBA based on his motor. Players with Randle’s array of moves and mix of power and finesse are rare.
Weaknesses: Randle denied a Yahoo Sports report that he would need surgery on his right foot. Because of his size and strength, he’s made a living off bullying defenders to the basket, a strategy that will be much tougher to execute as a professional. He’s left-hand dominant and rarely counters back to his right effectively, a tendency taller, more athletic defenders in the NBA will sit on unless he improves. His jumper was inconsistent at Kentucky. Randle is not a great shot-blocker and won’t provide a ton on the defensive end. His upside might not be quite as high as other players in his draft range.
Team Fit: Randle isn't a bad fit for the Lakers, who stand to benefit from his bullish rebounding and knack for interior scoring. There are some caveats, though, in his big-picture indicators: Randle's relative lack of length, his trouble against NBA-caliber big men in college and the spatial limitations of his offensive game, among others. Those drawbacks may not preclude Randle from growing into a star, but he's not exactly a safe selection for a team facing pressure to make good on this pick immediately. Kobe Bryant is waiting, but can Randle -- in his first taste of action against bigger, stronger NBA athletes -- deliver?