While Kobe Bryant‘s tweets about an interest to be more than willing to tutor the likes of Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins sound eloquently professional, it’s not what the Lakers need. Nick Young has proven himself throughout the season as a gritty, solid player worthy of being the starting wing for the 2014-15 L.A. Lakers. Young is an L.A. kid and seems perfectly sound in his tenure as a Laker. Largely a “utility” kind of player, Swaggy P has found a home for once in his career in a Laker jersey. It can be expected that he will pick up his player option in hopes of performing in a contract year for a long-term deal. By this point in his career Young, it can be assumed that he is looking for stability, and thus, comfortable remaining a Laker. And, so far, he has done his fair share to prove he can start.
While Lakers fans everywhere get excited about the possibility of a Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, may it be reminded to you that during this March Madness, as well as the regular season, we have witnessed inconsistent and spotty play from both future “stars” in crunch time situations, quite possibly showing that another year in the college ranks may be desired. Now that the hype train has been derailed, maybe an introduction can be made of arguably the best college player in the nation.
Say hello to Julius Randle: Future Laker. On a team full of potential first round picks such as James Young, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, and Willie Cauley-Smith, stands a 6’9, 250 pound workhorse who works as the glue of a team full of future NBA 1st round picks.
Have you seen this kid play? His motor would be a NASCAR racer’s DREAM. The leader in the nation in double-doubles in games, most in college basketball by a freshman in six years, Julius Randle is perhaps the most underrated NBA-ready star. And, he’s PERFECT for the Lakers, who by crystal clear observations, have much to be desired in the post.
Despite the fact that Kobe covets Gasol’s return to L.A. for perhaps two more runs at a title, as well as the potential losses of Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman, who will be an unrestricted free agents, the time may be near for the Lakers to ignore requests and build for now as well as the future. Julius Randle IS a win-now caliber player. And, the Lakers likely will not have anyone not named Robert Sacre to protect the glass down low. This goes completely against the rumored idea that the Lakers will trade a lottery pick to Minnesota for Kevin Love, as it should, because the Lakers should hold onto their pick if they want to right the ship immediately. Drafting Randle is not only a cheaper option than shopping their lottery pick, but it also still allows the Lakers financial flexibility to make a free agent splash for a center as well as a point guard. Isaiah Thomas/Darren Collison and/or Greg Monroe come to mind here.
With the Lakers not owning a particularly large amount of cap space due to a huge eye-popping extension to Kobe, they still can afford one max contract (Monroe), and a lucrative deal to a slightly cheaper option at the point. Preferably the Lakers would like a cheaper option who is quicker and not on the decline such as Steve Nash is, thus, Nash can contribute as a role player of sorts considering his trade value is very low. This still can allow the Lakers to make subtle moves to improve from a depth standpoint and possibly retain some of the young talent at guard and small forward who contributed in the 2013-14 season (i.e. Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson). The road is still long, however, the Lakers can choose the right direction in drafting Randle. Not only do you take a stud power forward, but you also financially benefit and allow improvement to the roster by adding starting quality NBA talent at key positions.