With the Los Angeles Lakers selecting Julius Randle as their first round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, it seems the only question now for the franchise is if Randle will have an effect on their free-agency appeal, with big free-agents lingering like Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and next-season free-agents Klay Thompson and Kevin Love. Lakerland has conjured some intense rumors knowing the history of the franchise on NBA draft days. With the Lakers famously drafting Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, and number-one overall picks James Worthy and Michael Thompson, it hard wether to tell if the name Julius Randle will measure up to this group of Laker legends. With the bittersweet departure of Dwight Howard, it has become a debate on wether the Los Angeles Lakers franchise is lucrative to free agents. Laker fans seem, for the most part, optimistic with the pick of Julius Randle after a long spout of four disappointing seasons.
According to the 2014 NBA Draft combine, Julius Randle measures in at 6’7″, weighing 250 pounds. Randle’s massive seven foot wingspan grants him a standing reach of 8 feet, 10 inches, a 29-inch no step vertical and a 35.5 max vertical, anchored by a 9.4 body fat percentage. The young Kentucky power forward played 40 games, averaging 30.8 minutes, 15 points and 50% field goals from the field. Randle also brings in a 70.6 free throw percentage to the court. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Randle is not a shot blocker, averaging only .8 blocks a game at Kentucky. While it is clear that Randle’s physical attributes will make him a force on the court, does the Lakers’ 2014 NBA Draft pick have a forceful effect on their free-agency appeal?
Registered as a power forward, Randle conceivably poses no minutes threat to free agents in the point guard, shooting guard, small forward and center positions. This reality theoretically leaves James, Anthony, and Thompson conflict free of Randle, spare only Kevin Love who conflicts with Randle, as he is also a power forward. It has also been rumored that the Lakers want to go after a point guard. Eric Bledsoe’s name is mentioned here, with the Laker’s possible trading Steve Nash’s contract freeing up financial binds and cap space. Given the above blue print, it seems at least plausible Julius can play with these guys, or, at minimum, not conflict with their minutes. It also becomes apparent for Laker fans, with Randle’s impressive size and numbers, the Lakers may be looking to trade Randle and pick up another player to help Kobe Byrant, a player at the end of this career. Randle may be a player who takes too long to develop to starter status alongside Kobe’s short window, weighing against Randle and his chances on staying with the legendary Lakers in sunny Los Angeles. As a power forward, the Timberwolves may be looking to replace Kevin Love with a young player like Randle.
The legacy of the NBA Draft may very well be its ability to be inaccurate. Players like Michael Jordan and Kevin Durrant going second, or Lakers’ bust players Adam Morison and Kwame Brown prove to NBA fans that the NBA Draft does not always set destinies in stone. For the Lakers and their 7th overall 2014 NBA Draft pick Julius Randle, it now is a matter of weighing decisions best for their franchise. The decision made may have an effect on their 2014 free agency appeal, negative or positive. Laker fans overall are happy with the pick, perhaps only hoping otherwise for Embiid or a trade.
Commentary by Zane Foley