Julius Randle has spent much of this young NBA season frustrated over his role. Wednesday night, he did his best job yet of setting that disappointment aside for the betterment of the team.
His coach gave him props.
“We don’t win the game without (Randle),” Luke Walton said, via @LakersReporter.
He’s absolutely right, and therein lies the reason why Randle’s frustration is probably warranted. Even while acknowledging Randle’s value against the “merciless” Washington Wizards, Walton only played his fourth-year power forward 19 minutes.
Some of this has to do with how well Larry Nance, Jr. looked through three quarters, but a lot of it comes back to role. There’s also this interesting tidbit from Walton, via LakersNation’s Serena Winters:
An important note, Luke planned to get Larry back in the game (he played great thru 3), but Julius was rolling, Luke looks down the bench… pic.twitter.com/UxDwf8zxP9
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 26, 2017
So basically, had Randle not looked as well as he did, his minutes total might’ve been dangerously close to single digits. Good on Luke for recognizing what was working last night, but that it could get to that point is borderline malpractice.
It’s no secret that the Lakers would benefit from moving Randle as they continue their
fool’s errand attempt to sign LeBron James and/or Paul George this summer, but giving Randle so little time to prove himself to other teams is a pretty terrible way to entice those teams to take on the opportunity to pay him at season’s end.
If the goal isn’t to move him and, instead, get the most from arguably the most talented young player on the roster, then his role needs to change. At the very least, Luke should clarify his role so Randle might understand what’s expected of him and what he could do to earn a larger chunk of the minutes.
All that said, good on Randle for making the most of his opportunity last night and good on Luke for recognizing his efforts.