Guys like Noah Vonleh, Elfrid Payton, Dario Saric and Zach LaVine were all still on the board at No. 7, and the Lakers could have gone many different directions. The right move was Randle, however, and thankfully for the franchise, that's the pick that was made.
The Lakers announced the selection via their official Twitter account:
Randle was upset he dropped to No. 7 in the draft, as CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello noted on Twitter:
Julius Randle: "The teams that pass on me will regret it."— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) June 27, 2014
That said, the Lakers also noted that he is excited to play for such a storied NBA franchise:
.@J30_RANDLE: "I get to go play in a great city that expects championships. I couldn't be more excited."— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 27, 2014
There isn't enough that can be said about this pick. Matt Moore of CBS Sports gives it an A-plus:
Lakers: Julius Randle: A+: The guy Kobe would want in terms of attitude. A bull inside with great character and touch at the rim.— Matt Moore CBS (@MattMooreCBS) June 27, 2014
The Lakers are in the first step of rebuilding. Kobe Bryant is still under contract, but Pau Gasol might not be back next season, and Steve Nash has just one year left on his deal. Randle is a great piece to build around, as he's a bull under the basket who can provide a safety net for the team's perimeter players.
At 6'9", 250 pounds, he is a remarkably strong player who doesn't always look to outmuscle defenders. He has a very nice touch around the rim, which allows him to use a variety of hook shots and short jumpers to score a few feet away from the basket.
Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times compares his game to Zach Randolph's:
Julius Randle is the Lakers' new power forward. Double-double machine at Kentucky reminiscent of Zach Randolph.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) June 27, 2014
Randolph, of course, has had a very successful NBA career. He has averaged a double-double eight different times in his career, including a season of 20.1 points and 12.2 rebounds per game in 2010-11.
Randle might not have a Randolph-like impact in his rookie campaign, but that's what the Black Mamba is there for. Bryant will teach the rookie everything he needs to know about wearing the purple and gold, including helping him acclimate to life in the NBA.
Do you like the pick?
For Randle, there's possibly no better teammate to have than Bryant.
Randle also fits the mold of the Lakers in terms of his mentality. They are known for their winning ways. While they've gotten away from them recently, the expectations of success still resonate.
At Kentucky, Randle was a winner. His Wildcats went 29-11 and lost in the NCAA Championship Game this past season to the UConn Huskies. His mindset will bring a grittiness to next year's Lakers.
He averaged 15 points and 10.4 rebounds per game last season with the Wildcats, and he'll look to put up similar numbers throughout his NBA career. The Lakers will enjoy many double-doubles from Randle over the next decade-plus.
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