Is it possible to understand Anthony Randolph as a basketball player? Is there a way to accurately predict his future? Can we even properly measure his present?
Randolph struggled through two up-and-down seasons in Golden St., and everyone rushed to blame coach Don Nelson for his inconsistency. Nellie yanks Randolph in and out of games so fast his neck probably hurts, was the consensus. Just give Randolph consistent minutes on the court and he’ll produce. He’s as talented as God can create a basketball player. Get him out of Golden St. and everyone will see what he can do.
Yet here we are in New York. Nellie’s no longer Randolph’s coach, and Nellie can no longer be named a scapegoat for Randolph’s failure to reach his potential. But substitute Mike D’Antoni for Don Nelson and there’s hardly any difference. His coaches agree: Randolph isn’t yet ready to shine.
“He doesn’t have a real big name,” D’Antoni said of Randolph to the New York Post. “He’s got big potential, but he hasn’t done a whole lot.
“This is a project,” D’Antoni said. “It’s not something that might happen tomorrow. It might be something that happens in one month, two months, one year, two years. He’s 21 years old. You can’t lose sight of that. I’m sure he wants it to be tomorrow. We want it to be tomorrow.”
D’Antoni’s not the only one who’s negative about Randolph’s present. Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote, “After Wednesday’s terrible outing versus the Celtics, Randolph is invoking memories of Kenny ‘Sky’ Walker, the No. 5 overall draft pick in 1986 who had a disappointing career with the Knicks.”
Randolph has played only three preseason games for the Knicks, and already he holds the burden of being compared to a draft bust. Walker, the kid from Kentucky who sometimes rocked the ”Kid N Play” high-top fade, entered the NBA with an ideal body frame, vicious vertical leap and big-time reputation. Seven years later his forgettable NBA career was finished, with career averages of 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds. This is who Randolph is being compared to.
And then you look at Randolph’s preseason stats, and you wonder why people remain so negative. In only 20 minutes, he’s averaged 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He’s just 21 years old. He has guard skills and a center’s length. He can affect games on both ends of the court. And even though he looked lost at times in the Knicks’ first game against the Celtics, even though he doesn’t always make the smart play, if you average Randolph’s preseason numbers out to 40 minutes, the Knicks would have a 26-point, 8-rebound player. Not bad, right?
This is what Seth from the Knicks blog Posting and Toasting had to say when describing one of Randolph’s preseason games: “Anthony Randolph, as advertised, made some absolutely dazzling plays (a steal and coast-to-coast dunk, a GORGEOUS one-handed pass to a cutting Bill Walker), but also forced threes and committed some silly fouls. Just remember to be patient with Anthony. He means well.”
Just remember to be patient with him, he means well. But at some point, patience runs out. Randolph is entering his third year now. Shouldn’t things be starting to click?
I played basketball yesterday with my friend, who is as big a Knicks fan as you’ll find. I asked him what he thinks about Randolph, and he said, “I don’t know. At times, he has no idea what the hell he’s supposed to do. Other times, he’s mesmerizing. And on certain weird occasions he’s both lost and mesmerizing, all at once.”
That’s exactly how I feel when I ponder Randolph’s potential impact on the New York Knicks, on the NBA. I’m both lost and mesmerized, all at once.
And I can’t stop watching.
- Game Notes
- According to A. Sherrod Blakely, Delonte West will “likely sit out [today's game] and continue to get rest and treatments for his back.” Stephane Lasme, out yesterday due to visa issues, should play.
- Speaking of Lasme, his spot on the team looks tenuous in the shadows of yesterday’s Von Wafer scoring outburst. Lasme will need to impress from now on to hold on to the spot that once looked to be his.
- Just a guess, but I’d bet Shaq will play tonight.
- Amare Stoudemire won’t.