Thursday, July 2, 2009

Randolph: A Clipper Assessment

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 8:10 PM

The sharp Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog offers a parting assessment of Zach Randolph:

I’ve been rough on Zach Randolph, so I’d like to take this opportunity to offer a more rational critique of him as a player. Is Randolph is a bad guy? I’ve had several conversations with him, but I generally hold the position that a series of locker room encounters tells us precious little about the inner life of athletes. There’s enough evidence to suggest that Randolph has applied lousy judgment throughout his professional life. On the court, he’s a statistical beast, but there’s a body of work that reveals tendencies which aren’t conducive to the formula the NBA demands at this moment for a successful franchise. Randolph was born about a decade too late, and would’ve been a much more helpful pre-2001, before the revisions of the hand-checking rules produced a more perimeter-oriented game more hospitable to face-up 4s. His defense would’ve been less of a liability in an era when “taking up space” was a more essentially defensive quality, and Zach certainly does that. But today’s game presents insurmountable problems for Zach. Defensively, he simply can’t defend the collection of athletic 4s who dominate the league. When his man works his way down low, Zach has a horrible habit of bailing out, leaving a basket defender like Marcus Camby as the last line of defense. That’s an excusable tactic for a perimeter defender who’s gotten beat, but power forwards have certain responsibilities down low and, unlike front line defenders, they can’t hide from those.

Offensively, Randolph is a black hole down low. If we’ve seen nothing else since April 18, the ability of bigs to move the ball can’t be overstated. It’s no longer merely a luxury; it’s a prerequisite for longterm success. On Monday, John Krolik of Cavs the Blog composed this pithy axiom: “Simply put, some guys create shots and plays offensively while other guys finish them.” Randolph is undoubtedly a one-on-one finisher — and a pretty good one. But that’s not what the Clippers needed in 2008-09, or or necessitate going forward. They need guys who can create for others. Even Dwight Howard, he of the so-called (and mischaracterized) one-dimensional game, became an effective post-and-kick man for Orlando. Yet, Clippers fans went days without seeing Randolph make a smart pass to set up a shooter.

That’s our final word here on Randolph. Maybe he’s capable of giving the Grizz a jolt in a frontcourt that needs a productive one-on-one scorer. Who knows?

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