Should the Los Angeles Lakers Start Brandon Bass or Julius Randle at Power Forward?

Does it make sense for the Lakers to give the veteran the nod over their former first-round pick?

The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Julius Randle seventh overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, with high hopes for his rookie season, as the team went into a rebuilding mode. 

Unfortunately, just 14 minutes into his NBA career, Randle went down with a season-ending leg injury.

This offseason, the Lakers brought in veteran power forward Brandon Bass for depth and to compete with Randle for playing time at the power forward position.

Which player should the Lakers start this season?

The Case for Bass

Bass is a 10-year veteran and has averaged 5.2 Win Shares per year over the last five seasons. He appeared in all 82 games last season for the Celtics, playing around 23 minutes per game.

Over the course of the 2014-15 season, Bass registered a solid 2.8 nERD, meaning he would add around three wins to a team full of league average players over the course of the season if he started for them.

Also, Bass’ per-36 numbers were impressive -- 16.2 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game -- while shooting 50% from the field. 

The Lakers struck out on a few big-name free agents this offseason, but signing Brandon Bass was a solid, underrated acquisition.

He can certainly play meaningful, effective minutes for this Los Angeles team.

The Case for Randle

After missing all of last season with an injury, Julius Randle joins guards D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson as three of the Lakers’ young players that the team will build around.

This preseason, Randle has appeared in 7 games for about 21 minutes per game. He’s averaged 11.4 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists while shooting 50% from the field.

Randle has also posted an impressive 22.9% assist percentage, which is high for a power forward, and a solid 14.7% rebound percentage this preseason. However, he has a Net Rating of -2.0 when accounting for his Offensive Rating (104.4) and his Defensive Rating (106.4). 

One thing to also consider is that the Lakers aren't expected to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference this season. Our algorithms give the Lakers just a 14.5% chance to make the postseason and expect them to finish roughly 33-49.

For that reason, it may be wise to throw Randle in the fire and let him get acclimated in the NBA.

The Verdict

Right now, Bass is the better option to start for the Los Angeles Lakers from an on-court perspective.

However, in the long run, Julius Randle’s ceiling is much higher, and if he realizes his potential, he will be a big piece of the Lakers’ future.

Bass has been a solid contributor his last five seasons in the league and has started 275 games over that span. Randle is just 20 years old and learning to play in the NBA.

In the unlikely event that the Lakers are serious contenders, then Bass as a start makes sense. But if things go as anticipated, Randle should see extended run later in the season.