With just one preseason game to go before the regular season gets underway, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton still has some big decisions to make. The biggest one is likely over the starting power forward position between Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle.
The two are very different players as Randle is a strong physical presence with good ball-handling for a big. Nance, meanwhile, is an excellent defender who brings intangibles that don’t always show up on the stat sheet.
After Randle started the first three preseason games, Nance has taken his spot for the last two. After Tuesday’s loss to the Utah Jazz, Walton said he is still undecided on who will ultimately be in the starting lineup on opening night according to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell:
Walton said he hasn’t made up his mind yet about whether Nance or Randle will start at PF this season.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 11, 2017
Tuesday’s game likely didn’t provide much clarity to the situation as both players had some good moments on the court.
Nance enjoyed his best game of the preseason, finishing with nine points, three rebounds, and two assists and making a number of plays just through sheer activity. Randle had 13 points, four rebounds, and five steals, once again showing off his unique skillset for someone his size.
While each player has clear positives, they have also enforced their negatives this preseason. Nance isn’t much of a threat offensively and good teams will exploit that. Randle’s defense has improved, but he still struggles especially off the ball. He can also have ‘tunnel vision’ when handling the ball, not looking to make the extra pass that Walton wants.
Regardless of who starts, both will play a big role this season for Walton’s Lakers. It may ultimately come down to who fits better with starting center Brook Lopez. Walton will need to find the answer very soon.