Early on, there were fewer more critical of Anthony Randolph than myself. Ready to give up on him? Not exactly, but certainly not one to let him get in the way of just about any respectable trade offer that came along. There just did not seem to be enough to warrant so much hype surrounding a rail-thin bigman who was more likely to miss a shot or turn the ball over than to do anything positive.
While indeed his play at the time was terrible, this is the most simple statement I can make about that early evaluation of his potential.
Anthony Randolph caught the attention and fancy of fans in the summer league where the superathletic forward showed skills rare for a man his height. Glowing reports of his handles and the form on his shot had many believing that Randolph would soon be a silky smooth SF able to run an offense and giving the Warriors a weapon that few could contend with. Reality set in sometime in the preseason when it was clear that his "handles" were just good enough to allow him to dribble right into traffic for ever mounting turnovers. His jumper was just good enough to make him think he should take it, but unfortunately, not good enough to find the bottom of the rim. Reality indicated that there was a reason that, despite all the 'potential' in the world, Randolph was selected at the tail end of the draft lottery.
When the regular season started, Randolph rarely played, seeing mostly garbage time minutes where he shot poorly, turned the ball over often and showed no signs that his passing warranted putting him in charge of the ball. Nellie apparently did not like his work ethic and even as the Warriors season went down the tubes, Randolph sat on the bench most of the time. Even when Nellie seemed forced to play Maggette for major minutes as his "4", Anthony sat, and in truth, given what he showed when he had played, it was a wise decision.
None of this should be surprising. Early on, he was the same player he had been in his lone season at LSU: sometimes awe-inspiring, but more generally out of control missing too many shots, turning the ball over too often and not helping his team nearly as much as his all-world athleticism suggests he should. Oh, but he could rebound.
But those early days in Oakland passed, and with them went many of Randolph's bad habits. Eventually, injuries took Andris Biedrins and Brandan Wright out of the action and out of complete need, Randolph started playing. And he started playing much much better. As much of a disaster as he was as a "3" early in the season, he showed tremendous potential as a real big man. His rebounding, the lone bright spot early on, remained stellar. As important, as a 4/5 limiting most of his shots to those in the paint, his FG% approached 50%, and his 2nd half TS% remained right about at the league average. While he has yet to show any sort of passing fancy to warrant further SF consideration, when confined to the paint, the turnovers dropped considerably. Randolph went from a major on court liability to the asset that everyone wanted him to become. Night and day. Rich and Poor. Good and Al Davis. The contrast was that extreme.
Randolph has certainly grown into the hype and hopes surrounding him. His name appears as the only real "untouchable" on the Warriors roster. His summer league performance indicates mostly that he significantly outclassed the competition, and he looks to build on the the success enjoyed at the end of last season in a bigger role this year. While he must continue to refine his shot and shot selection to be able to carry a greater portion of the offensive load and give the Warriors a real threat in the paint. He will need to reduce his fouls and show more defensive discipline as well. But there is every reason to believe this is possible. Nelson now says that Randolph turned his work ethic around and is now perhaps the team's hardest worker. With Wright now sidelined for somewhere between a few months and eternity, Randolph will have every chance to shine full time at PF, though in Nellie's offense that is predicated on versatility, he will have much opportunity to flash those skills that excited many early last year as well. As a 4 able to put the ball on the floor at times who is also a beast on the glass who can swat shots with authority. HOF potential like Lakers' versatile big man Lamar Odom suggests?
Let's not get so far ahead of ourselves. Odom also said that Randolph could shoot the three, of which there's yet no evidence. And while he did seem to find some success with a shot off the right elbow, outside of the paint, AR has a ways to go. His opening performance against the Clippers shows that his willingness to shoot -- 13 shots in 10 minutes -- may precede his ability to knock 'em down. The part of his offensive game that has worked has not been effectively all that different from that of front-court mates Andris Biedrins or the once again injured Wright. Wright, despite appearing to have fewer weapons upon which to draw, managed to both take and make more shots per minute on the floor. Randolph must show that his skills warrant getting him the ball in designed sets. There's still quite a bit of polishing that needs to be done before booking reservations to Springfield. But as long as he can clean the glass with the best of them, he should get opportunities to improve.
Believe the reports of him having grown to 7 feet tall and adding 20lbs of muscle if you want. Pictures still show him to be a bit shorter than Andris and he still isn't going to intimidate anyone as a hulking giant. Regardless of all of that, Randolph should inherit the mantle of our most untouchable asset and shows real (yes, here comes that word) potential to take us far. Despite bad contracts to Maggette and Jackson, questions about the ability and/or attitude of the team's two highest paid players Ellis and Biedrins, the busted wing of fellow forward Brandan Wright, if Randolph develops into a star, it will hide the multitude of sins. It provides the best hope for something better.
Please live up to it, Anthony.
|2008 - Anthony Randolph||63||17.9||3.2||6.8||46.2||0.0||0.1||0.0||1.6||2.2||71.6||2.0||3.7||5.8||0.8||1.3||0.7||1.2||2.2||7.9|
2009-2010 Golden State Warriors Preview
- Anthony Morrow: Ammo + Chocolate Rain
- Stephen Jackson: O Captain, My Captain
- Speedy Claxton/ Devean George, Acie Law: Wouldn't Count on It
- Brandan Wright: Injury Prone
- Stephen Curry: Let There Be Hope
- Monta Ellis: Back in the Saddle
- Corey Maggette: The 6th Wonder of the Oracle
- Andris Biedrins
- Anthony Randolph
- Ronny Turiaf
- C.J. Watson
- Mikki Moore
- Kelenna Azubuike