Last night I got a good look at Warriors draft pick Anthony Randolph up close. To cut to the chase, pop quiz: make a list of people 6'10" or with 7-foot wingspans who can handle the rock coast-to-coast, including between the legs and behind-the-back? And I mean under duress and looking like he can naturally do it. Like truly take someone to the hole off the dribble.
Makes me sort of recall last year's big Yi Jianlian pre-draft workout report and video by ESPN's Chad Ford. In it, you can see Yi smoothly handling the ball and taking some jump shots.
Well, based on what I've seen, for near-7-footers, Randolph's skills are orders of magnitude better than Yi's, although each player is being used for different roles (Yi's still a post-up player and there's no way you let him bring up the rock).
So how many guys did you come up with on your list? I have to be honest, I'm sitting here and I can only think of two other guys besides Yi, who doesn't really count. One of them is Toni Kukoc and he's retired. The other one is... Brandan Wright!
And I gotta tell ya based on what I saw in person last night, Randolph is better than all of the above. Yep, that includes Kukoc as long as Randolph keeps working on his outside shot, which looks pretty good thus far. Based on bringing-to-the-table skills coming into the Association, I have to say that Chris Mullin has pulled off another potential steal-of-the-draft with Randolph at #14. But as we learned from Marco Belinelli's rookie year, what you bring to the table isn't necessarily what you put on the table. That obviously remains to be seen.
I'm not sure we're maximizing our discussion time dissecting Randolph's ability to do this or that, as in my usual scouting reports. And you'll get the full game recap from Fantasy Junkie, I'm sure. The bottom line is, Randolph can lead a break or do a hesitate-and-break towards the hoop off the dribble, maybe even between the legs, no problem. Trust me, he can do it. I don't think he has a spin move yet, but oh my, if he did.
I think the more interesting discussion is as follows: when you see Randolph (or Wright, for that matter) get a defensive board and, with the guards such as Belinelli and CJ Watson realizing this and not hanging back for the traditional "Oh here I am, pass me the ball so we can bring it up safely" outlet routine, it makes you wonder.
So perhaps in the context of a real NBA basketball game, envision (a few years from now?) Randolph leading a break with Monta Ellis on one wing, Belinelli on the other, and Stephen Jackson trailing for a possible dish-out trey? Hmmm...
Are we witnessing the dawn of a new era of basketball?
Now, with Run TMC and the Baron Davis era, one of the things we Warriors fans can be proud of is the uniqueness of Nellie-ball. Nobody except Phoenix can come close to our style of play. Has it led us to boatloads of victories or even being remotely considered as championship-caliber? Well, we don't and didn't necessarily have a beast named Amare Stoudamire, so let the arguing with Suns fans begin. That's not the point.
I COULD BE WRONG (*wink* *wink*, Kawakami!), but we may just be seeing a glimpse of a new style of basketball with Randolph (who just turned 19 in July!) and Wright (who will turn 21 in October). Granted, we still have to figure out how Wright and Randolph, whose combined ages do not even surpass Mullin's, fit into the bigger context of the Warriors' starting five, but this is getting mighty interesting.
Mully-ball, where your two tallest 7-foot-wingspan players lead the break.
Folks, I don't think we've ever seen this before in the history of basketball.
Of course, it's not what you bring to the table, it's what you put on the table, but I'm just saying...
P.S. I do have some game notes from last night which I will share in a future post, along with notes from other games.