The Los Angeles Lakers’ second presesason game ended with the same result as the first one, but the team’s 113-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets Monday night still featured a few bright spots.
One positive for the Lakers was the continuing strong play of starting power forward Julius Randle, who famously transformed his body over the offseason through workouts with his personal trainer, Amoila Cesar.
The results of Randle’s workouts have been positive so far, as Randle posted 15 points and seven rebounds in the Lakers’ first preseason games against the Minnesota Timberwolves before dropping a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double to go along with two assists, one steal and one block against the Nuggets.
Randle’s box score-stuffing performance earned him strong praise from Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton following the defeat, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Luke impressed with Julius Randle tonight 'probably had the biggest jump (of the rest of the players) from last game to this game.'
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 3, 2017
Randle looks noticeably lighter on his feet while out on the floor and despite only racking up two assists against the Nuggets, he has looked much improved as a playmaker so far for Los Angeles.
Potentially more importantly for the Lakers given that the team has ranked last in the league in defensive efficiency for the last two seasons, Randle has also improved on the defensive end, with Walton citing Randle’s improved communication defensively as one of the reason’s he felt the forward played so much better against the Nuggets despite his box score numbers looking relatively similar to his game against Minnesota.
The Lakers will need their entire roster to improve defensively if they hope to avoid a spot in the league’s basement on that end for the third-consecutive year, but Randle beginning to show signs of life as a defender could be a huge development for the team’s starting lineup should his progress continue.