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Lakers news: Luke Walton believes Julius Randle is playing ‘pissed off’

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Heading into his fourth year in the league, Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle is coming off an offseason where he spent the last few months refocusing his efforts toward 

This comes after spending the offseason getting in the best shape in his professional career and working on his craft. However, the 22-year-old in head coach Luke Walton‘s perspective is playing with a different edge on the court so far through the first five games of the preseason, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN

“He’s pissed off,” said Walton, who started Nance for the second straight preseason game on Tuesday night against Utah. “He seems to be pissed off. But he’s using it to play with an edge. And he’s been great in practice the past two or three days. I thought he had a phenomenal game in Vegas. That’s what competition’s supposed to bring, the best out of you and I think he’s really stepping his game up with that happening.”

Randle has put that on display with his play in preseason action where he’s averaging 13.0 points on 48.1 percent shooting from the field with a team-best 7.6 rebounds in five games. This includes scoring in double figures four times while notching a pair of double-doubles. 

What may also be drawing more personal motivation for Randle is that fact that he’s playing in the final year of his four-year, $13.5 million deal that will pay him $4.1 million for the 2017-18 campaign. Despite that being the case, the 22-year-old downplayed that situation by stating that is the frame of mind that he has always played with, according to Ryan Ward of ClutchPoints.

Although Randle has been a notable bright spot in the preseason, Walton voiced following Tuesday’s 105-99 loss to the Utah Jazz that he was still unsure of who will be the starting power forward to begin the year as third-year forward Larry Nance Jr. has been the starter in the last couple of games meanwhile rookie Kyle Kuzma has continued to stand out with his play averaging a team-best 19.2 points. 

With one more game left in the preseason, it could provide Randle another chance to make a strong impression to earn the starting job to begin the regular season. 

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He's currently the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West. He was previously the beat writer for LA Rams Report for Scout.com, which is a website dedicated to covering the Rams. Lastly, he was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.
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