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Why Brandon Bass Can Help Julius Randle's Ascension with the Los Angeles Lakers

Ehran Khan@@ekhansworldContributor IIIJuly 17, 2015

With a little veteran guidance, Julius Randle can become an All-Star-caliber player. Brandon Bass can help.
With a little veteran guidance, Julius Randle can become an All-Star-caliber player. Brandon Bass can help.Associated Press

With the future of the Los Angeles Lakers looking like it will be in the hands of their recent draft picks, it's on the team's veterans to shepherd the young guys to get the most out of their abilities.

D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson couldn't dream of a better mentor in Kobe Bryant, who can show them how an all-time great guard and team leader should go about his business.

Julius Randle, while he could still learn a thing or two from Bryant, needs someone else to show him the ropes of how to handle his own position in the pros.

That is why the signing of journeyman forward Brandon Bass could be more significant than expected.

Though Bass doesn't possess the raw ability of Randle, he's a seasoned vet who has been in many battles throughout his career and played in some meaningful games along the way. He started all 20 contests in the postseason for the Boston Celtics team that pushed the Miami Heat to the brink in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.

Here are a couple of specific ways Bass can help Randle grow in his first real NBA season.

The Art of the Jumper

Randle's strength offensively is his face-up game.

He's extremely comfortable handling the ball for someone his size and can beat just about anybody at his position off the dribble. He can either go one-on-one in isolation settings and use his jab step and lightning-quick initial burst to blow by his man or catch the ball in space off the pick-and-roll and penetrate a scrambling defense all the way to the rim.

Randle put on a show in Wednesday's summer league contest against the Dallas Mavericks, repeatedly getting to the basket and finishing with aplomb. He even found a nice crease to the hoop with his right hand, another spot that needs work.

What drove Randle's success in attacking the paint was the couple of outside shots he knocked down to keep the defense from sitting on his dribble-drive game.

After the game, Randle admitted that finding consistency on his jumper will be crucial to opening up opportunities for his slashing.

"It has to be a consistent part of my game. For me to reach my potential and be as effective as I want to be, it has to be a consistent part of my game," Julius said when asked about the necessity to improve his mid-range jumper, per Drew Garrison of SB Nation.

Randle struggled with his jumper during his one season at Kentucky. According to DraftExpress, Randle connected on just 17.3 percent of his jump shots in college, while his points per possession on jumpers was the worst in his class at his position.

That's where Bass comes in.

A terrific jump-shooter, Bass will work with Randle on the young big's mid-range game.
A terrific jump-shooter, Bass will work with Randle on the young big's mid-range game.Elise Amendola/Associated Press/Associated Press

The 10-year vet has made a living off the mid-range jump shot, particularly over the past five seasons when he has really increased the frequency of those attempts.

In 2015, Bass canned 45.7 percent of his shots between 16 and 24 feet. That figure ranked ninth in the entire league among players with at least 175 tries from that range, per NBA.com, just ahead of another big man lauded for his jump shooting—Chris Bosh.

Improving his shooting stroke will also get Randle more free points at the line. He was among the leaders of power forwards in his draft class at generating free throws, but his 70.6 percent conversion rate was less than stellar.

Bass is a career 83 percent foul shooter. If he can pass on some of his touch to Randle, the young man's offensive game will blossom next year.

Defending the Pick-and-Roll

As a fellow undersized power forward, Bass can relate to Randle's deficiencies on defense and advise him on how best to work around them.

Randle doesn't have the length or timing to be a great rim protector, but he does have the lateral quickness and speed to guard on the perimeter. That will be key to defending the NBA's bread-and-butter play—the screen-and-roll.

Bass has turned a similar physical profile into a strength when guarding pick-and-roll situations. He's quick enough and can get down low enough to slide step-for-step with guards for a brief spell and speedy enough to still recover back to his man rolling down the lane.

Randle has the speed and quickness to develop into a plus defender in pick-and-roll situations.
Randle has the speed and quickness to develop into a plus defender in pick-and-roll situations.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The Lakers' bigs last season ranged from mediocre to abysmal at defending roll men. Of the three who recorded 50 such defensive plays, none finished higher than the 56th percentile in the league, per NBA.com.

Bass, on the other hand, was a strong screen-and-roll defender. According to NBA.com, he ranked in the 74th percentile overall and allowed his man to shoot just 35 percent on those plays.

Randle can learn to have similar success. He's a better athlete than Bass, especially moving side to side, and with an elite rim protector like Roy Hibbert behind him he can afford to be more aggressive in cutting off angles and trapping ball-handlers.

He had a defensive gem in his aforementioned summer league outing against Dallas, shutting off a driving point guard, ripping the ball away and going coast-to-coast for an easy slam.

Randle has the tools to become an effective defender for his size. Bass can help critique his fundamentals and groom him to reach his potential on that end of the floor.

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