The Los Angeles Lakers can look at the recent Brook Lopez injury as a blessing in disguise. While there have been rumors of a Julius Randle trade as noted by ESPN, this is the opportunity the Lakers need to get their ducks in a row.
With the Lakers logjam at the power forward position, Lopez’s injury opens the door for Luke Walton to play small ball and place Randle in at the starting center position. For the season, Lopez has averaged a career-low 12.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game on 44 percent shooting.
While Lopez stands at 7 feet, Randle would be the perfect replacement even at his size (6-9) for Walton to be able to run the offense he saw while with the Golden State Warriors. Randle has averaged 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the floor. The issue with Lopez is his lack of defense, plus he believes he’s a three-point (29 percent, four per game) shooter now.
By playing Randle at center, it will give the Lakers better spacing and the ability to take advantage of fast break opportunities with all five players running the floor. Lopez is agile in the post, but he’s not as athletic as Randle.
With Lopez, he’s receiving the ball in the post and then taking a few seconds to make a move. Randle, however, is quicker on his feet, and better at decision-making when a defender drops down. This will open better passing lanes for Randle to hit teammates like Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Jordan Clarkson on the perimeter.
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This move will also allow Walton to play with a combination of Randle and Larry Nance Jr. or Randle with Kyle Kuzma at the same time. Either one of those pairings will give the Lakers a better chance at cleaning rebounds on both ends of the floor.
If the Lakers have it etched in stone that Randle is gone, then this is the perfect opportunity to showcase his skills even more. By letting him see time in Brook’s absence, it should increase his trade value. While losing Lopez may sting, it still can be viewed as a blessing to the Los Angeles Lakers and Julius Randle.