When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Julius Randle, they were drafting a player with the potential to be a future All-Star in the league. Randle was one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft, and should compete for Rookie of the Year. He played well during the Summer League, displaying an impressive skill set along with his bruising style down in the paint. As the team’s young prospect, the Lakers need to give him as many minutes as possible against the better players in the league, and should give him the start at power forward.
The Lakers clearly do not have the strongest roster in the league, but they surprisingly have a lot of depth at the power forward position. Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill and Ed Davis can all line up at the four and have plenty of talent between the three of them. Both Hill and Davis will likely see a lot of minutes at center due to their versatility, but Boozer is strictly a power forward. With his past accomplishments and scoring ability, he seems like the likely player to start over Randle.
However, the Lakers would be better off bringing Boozer off the bench and letting Randle play with the first unit. While Randle is not a defense stalwart or the rim protector that the team needs, he has more athleticism than Boozer and is capable of providing more efficient help defense. The team needs more quickness to pair with Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin, especially against opposing teams’ starting lineups. Randle will also get easier opportunities as teams focus on Bryant, giving him more confidence with a boost in numbers. Boozer will give the second unit more scoring, and his defensive weaknesses won’t be as obvious against bench players.
The Lakers need to make developing Randle a priority this season, and they would be wise to give him the starting role. He can gain experience playing heavy minutes against the top power forwards in the league, and learn how to score against players that are stronger and more athletic than he is. He is a player with a ton of potential, and would benefit from the extra playing time. He has proven that he can get his shot off against lesser talent, but if the team wants him to be their next star, he needs to be able to produce against the best the league has to offer.