The Los Angeles Lakers are in a transition period and thanks to a disappointing 2013-14 season, the Lakers found themselves with the no. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. It was an unusual position for the Lakers to be in, but in the end, they turned their misfortune into a blessing as they came away with an All-Star in the making, selecting Julius Randle from Kentucky.
Randle, who was talked about as one of the best players in college basketball all season long and was even mentioned as possible No. 1 overall pick when the season started, is a perfect fit for the Lakers. At 6-foot-9, 250 pounds, the former Wildcat is an old-school power forward who is a dominant scorer in the low-post and an outstanding rebounder.
Last season for the Wildcats, Randle averaged 15.1 PPG, while shooting better than 50 percent from the field. He also averaged 10.4 RPG as he helped guide Kentucky to the national championship game.
With the likely departure of Pau Gasol this offseason, the Lakers were in desperate need of some help in the low post, and the addition of Randle is exactly what the doctor ordered. He is an extremely skilled big man who has a tremendous left hand, is a good ball handler, and has a better perimeter jump shot than he is given credit for.
Randle also gives the Lakers a talented prospect to build around, which could possibly help the team recruit free agents this summer or next with the idea that Kobe Bryant and Randle can be key parts to a championship-caliber team.
With this in mind, when assigning the Lakers a letter grade for the 2014 draft, it has to be an A. No team got better value in the draft than the Lakers, who in my opinion got the third-best player in the draft with the seventh pick. Every draft has a handful of true difference-makers, and Los Angeles got one in Randle.
The Lakers don’t end up in the draft lottery very often, and that’s because when they do find themselves in that position, they take advantage of it — just like they did on Thursday night.