Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle has a fan in Draymond Green.
The Golden State Warriors All-Star forward has developed a respect for Randle's game and his approach to basketball.
“From the first time I saw him play, I just loved the intensity that he played with, the fire, the dog, the passion and fire that he played the game with,” Green told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News. “You see a young guy like that, coming into the league at 19 years old, No. 1 you respect it. But you want to do what you can to help him be successful. At the end of the day, we are competitors. We’ll play against each other four times a year and possibly in the playoffs. But it’s not about that.”
Green has been the engine that revs the Warriors' play. From tenacious play on defense to fiery displays during and-one opportunities on offense, the 6-foot-7 power forward is often characterized as the emotional leader of the team and one of the best competitors around the league.
“I know every time, maybe not anymore, but before I made my name, everyone would see me as, ‘Oh he’s too little’ and think they’ll destroy me,” said Green. “They think they’re going to take advantage of me because of my size. But for me, that was always a challenge.
“How do you overcome that? What can I do to overcome that and prove everybody wrong? The odds were against me and everyone was doubting me. So what can I do to prove everybody wrong? What can I do to show that doesn’t matter? Size doesn’t matter. That was my motivation.”
Randle has been in the league for two years, but has only played one full-season's worth of 82 games in his career after his season was cut short during his NBA debut, where he suffered a broken leg and was declared out for the season.
“I think he can be real special,” Green said of Randle. “With the skillset he has and the body, he’s long and athletic. The way he handled the ball at his size and the way he can move at his size, it’s special. He has one thing you can’t teach. That’s that dog and that heart. You can’t teach that. If he continues to work, which I know he will, Julius, the way I view Julius the first time I came into the league, he seemed like a guy who had always been bigger and stronger and more athletic than everybody. So nobody really taught him how to play the game. He was playing off of God-given talent.”
“It was funny. I used to always tell Luke [Walton], ‘Man if somebody teaches him how to play the game, he’s going to be special.’ You see the passes he makes and how he sees the floor. It’s God-given. I’ve watched him over the course of the last 2 ½ years, you continue to see his game grow and grow. He’s starting to figure out the NBA game. He’s continued to work on his game and figure stuff out. If he continues to do that like I know he will, I think he can be special.”
Walton, now the head coach of the Lakers, will have the chance to work with Randle and make him an asset for the team. The 21-year-old averaged 11.3 points and 10.2 rebounds in his second year with the Lakers.