Resume: 11.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 26.3 minutes, 46% FG, and 66% FT… Team record in games played: 17-11 (24-14 without)… Playoffs: 13.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 42% FG, 63% FT, 3-4 record
Since I’ve already ranked a few players who had injury problems last season (Curry, Gordon, Rubio) you have to give me a little bit of leeway with Zach Randolph. I know that statistically Randolph was underwhelming, and it’ll have people like my friend Corey Edwards in a rage because Randolph made the top 50 and Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t. Well, I never said you’d agree with everything I said. Just remember that we’re talking about a guy who 16 months ago was in the midst of a postseason run that launched him into “national phenomenon” status for about a month’s time. Seriously, who didn’t eat that Z-Bo hype up just as fast as Z-Bo would eat up free McDonalds? Randolph was so good in the opening round that after the Grizzlies upset the Spurs (only the 4th time ever that an 8 seed had defeated a 1 seed), there was legitimate talk that Memphis could make it all the way to the NBA Finals.
Well, the Grizzlies didn’t make it to the NBA Finals, but Z-Bo and the Grizzlies did enough to gain some serious and definitely warranted buzz as the potential Western Conference champion coming into the 2011-12 season. I bought into that buzz, and I stayed with it even after Randolph went down 4 games into the season with a torn MCL. Two months of Zach Randolph’s first regular season post Z-Bo break being robbed is a bigger crime than… well, any of the crimes Randolph actually ever committed.
Let me go off on a tangent for a minute: Remember two days ago when I had ranked DeMarcus Cousins 40th on the list, even though he has the skill level to potentially be in the top 20? I couldn’t do that because he has too much baggage, or as I explained it, he is like a great movie that you go see in theatres but you have a bunch of idiots sitting around you screaming the whole time. It’s still a great movie, you just don’t enjoy it as much. Once upon a time, Zach Randolph was the same guy DeMarcus Cousins is now. You wouldn’t be totally shocked to hear that DeMarcus Cousins was arrested DUI, just like there wasn’t anybody that was too surprised when Randolph was arrested for it… twice. I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if Cousins got into a fist fight with one of his teammates. Zach Randolph has been there and done that. Just ask Ruben Patterson’s face about the altercation. Up until Zach Randolph broke out in the 2011 playoffs he was just another guy putting up 20 points and 10 rebounds a night that was being overshadowed by things that force people to look past how talented you are. Maybe all Cousins needs is a change of scenery and time to grow up. It took Randolph ten seasons and four teams to get to where he is at now. I guess we can only hope.
Alright, tangent over, and all of the talk about DeMarcus Cousins is also over, because there will be no mention of any Sacramento Kings player from here on out. Not even Jimmer Fredette. Anyway, Randolph remains a top 40 player even though he dropped statistically and didn’t come close to duplicating the magic he created last postseason. The reason I couldn’t drop him further than Monroe or Cousins is because Randolph is at a point in his career where he may have finally figured it out. Cousins is just entering his crazy peak. Monroe isn’t nearly as assertive as he needs to be at this point. Randolph has found a healthy balance between the two. I still believe he can be the player he was in the summer of 2011. Let me go even further. I think he will be. I’m expecting a bounce back season from Zach Randolph and the Grizzlies as well. With so much love going to the Lakers, Thunder, Clippers, Spurs and Nuggets, the Grizzlies are once again the sleeping giant ready to be awoken from hibernation and shock some people in the playoffs. Even if Zach Randolph can’t jump over a cinder block or still doesn’t know how many minutes are in an NBA game, I expect some Z-Bo flashbacks in about 8 months.