The Los Angeles Lakers’ slim postseason chances may be over before the 2014-15 NBA season is even a week old. As we discussed last weekend, Steve Nash will miss the entire season with a chronic back injury. And just last night, rookie Julius Randle broke his leg in the Lakers’ season debut against Houston.
Randle, the 2014 NBA Draft’s seventh-overall pick, was driving to the basket midway through the fourth quarter of a 108-90 loss to the Houston Rockets. His right foot buckled and he went down to the floor. He had to be carried off the court and the diagnosis was a broken tibula. The 6’9″ power forward will likely miss the rest of the season with his broken leg.
“It is heartbreaking, because I saw him all summer,” said Lakers coach Byron Scott. “I saw the work that he was putting in. I saw the progression that he was making, the steps that he was taking to get better. And his first game, he goes down. I don’t think anybody in that locker room is happy about the way we played, but we’re even more saddened about the fact that we lost one of our young guys.”
The scene inside the Staples Center was very quiet as Randle lay on the floor for several minutes. Teammates said they heard a “pop,” and the worst was confirmed by team officials. The 19-year-old rookie had to be carried off the court on a stretcher after scoring 2 points on 1-of-3 shooting.
Nobody took the loss harder than long-time Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who shook his head in disbelief after seeing his teammate carried away. Bryant had the following to say about Randle’s devastating injury:
Even for myself, being a veteran and dealing with something like this, it’s tough. For him being a 19-year-old kid, it’s tough. That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to pick him up and take it day by day. It’s a fluke injury. There’s nothing you can do about that. He worked extremely hard, he trained extremely hard. Then something like this happens, so you’ve kind of got to give yourself up to that and control what you can control, and what happens, happens. And now it’s on him to control how he handles this.
I think what this franchise has always been good about doing is surrounding young players with players who have come before,” he said. “He has a great cast around him — myself and James (Worthy) and AC Green and Magic [Johnson]. We’re all here. We’ll help him through this. He’ll come back a basketball player. That’s the goal, is to try to find a silver lining within anything.
James Worthy is an interesting mention here because he also broke his leg in his rookie season. But Worthy rebounded by becoming a 7-time NBA All-Star, 3-time NBA champion and 1988 NBA Finals MVP. At just 19 years old, Randle still has a long career ahead of him. So he can look towards Worthy’s story as motivation to come back strong.
But this injury leaves Los Angeles without their promising rookie for an entire season. Carlos Boozer is the starting power forward while starting center Jordan Hill and backup Ed Davis can also man the position. However, Randle had the potential to develop into very good player, even in his first year. LA also lost some backcourt depth as well with the previously mentioned Nash injury.
This leaves Bryant, Boozer, Hill and PG Jeremy Hill having to carry more of the load. And in what figures to be another grueling season in the Western Conference, depth is key. So if you’re into Los Angeles Lakers betting, keep in mind that injuries are really piling up for this LA team.