The comparisons just won’t leave Julius Randle alone.
Some say he’s a trimmer Zach Randolph, others a stronger Lamar Odom, and there was another association Friday from James Worthy.
“The next time you watch Julius Randle start the break, you’ll see some old Charles Barkley stuff. Nobody wants to get in their way,” said Worthy, recently hired as a Lakers’ coaching consultant.
The fascination with the second-year player is growing in the Lakers’ organization. In four days of training camp, he’s looked much better than the player who rushed everything in four NBA summer-league games in July, where his accuracy cratered at 39.5%.
Randle has worked on his outside touch and become more confident when he gets an open look. He’s also rediscovered a quick first step from the post.
“He’s just so much more explosive now,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. “I think he can be a star. His first step is about as quick as any power forward in this league right now. It’s just about developing the rest of his game.”
This is something Worthy would know.
“My first step was a good spin move but his is from the triple-threat position. He does a good jab step,” he said. “He almost always gets the edge on his first step and that’s all you want to do.”
Randle has been given the green light by Scott to push the ball after taking a defensive rebound, a responsibility he gladly dives into whenever possible.
“He has a chip on his shoulder,” said a person observing his game at closed Lakers practices this week. It’s not because Randle’s angry at anyone in particular. He feels cheated because he played only 14 minutes as a rookie before sustaining a broken leg.
The main criticism of Randle is the need to slow down. He’s continually in fifth gear when he dribbles the ball after a rebound, Worthy said.
“Somewhere after you pass half court, you should be able to tell if there’s an opening or if you can go all the way to the cup. He always thinks he should get to the cup,” Worthy said. “But meanwhile, he’s coming so fast he can’t see that the defense is collapsed. If he can get to the half-court line, maybe drop to third [gear] for a bit, let the defense clear up, he can go back to fifth at any time.”
D’Angelo Russell stopped practicing Friday about one-fourth the way through it because of pain in his right foot. He sustained a bone bruise on the bottom of the foot Thursday and was also bothered by a blister, Scott said.
Any reason to fret about the second pick in the draft?
“No, not right now. It’s just something that’s bothering him,” Scott said. “It’s just a little sore. I could see that he was kind of limping and favoring it so I just told him to go sit down.”
Russell had some orthotics added to his shoes earlier Friday to try to prevent further soreness. It was unclear if he would play in the Lakers’ exhibition opener Sunday against Utah.
It was also not known whether Kobe Bryant would play Sunday.
“We’ll see,” Scott said coyly. Bryant did not practice Friday.
Metta World Peace also sat out because of a sore calf and Nick Young was sidelined toward the end of practice because of a sore back.
The days are going by slowly for World Peace, who was signed to a non-guaranteed contract and wants to show the Lakers what he can give them.
He looked fine in unofficial scrimmages over the summer at the team’s training facility but did not play in the NBA last season after logging only 29 games for New York in 2013-14.
He hasn’t scrimmaged yet at training camp.
“Obviously, it’s not the way we planned and I’m sure it’s not the way he planned it to be,” Scott said. “Hopefully, another day or so of rest, he can be back on the floor and participating in practice.”
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