I run a charity church basketball program for underprivileged kids and anytime I need to motivate them, get them to shape up, or give a little more effort – there’s a common refrain I shout that always gets their attention:
“Don’t be Anthony Randolph!”
The kids laugh and know exactly what I’m getting at. They know that every year since 2009 I’ve waste my Last Round pick on Randolph – hoping to see him earn some regular burn and stat stuff PPG, REB, BLK, STL, and even some 3PTs. But every year I’m left disappointed.
This is the year I’ve run out of patience and at only 23 years old, Randolph might have run out of chances to be a rotation player in the NBA.
I’m still puzzled why Randolph hasn’t been able to get more minutes. If you look back at his career, he’s been blessed with some of the most offensive-minded and laid-back coaches in the NBA.
His rookie season saw him show flashes of brilliance with 7.9 PPG / 5.8 RPG / 1.2 BLK in just over 17 MPG under the mad-scientist Don Nelson. Fantasy GMs like me were salivating at picking Randolph as high as the 3rd Round the next season.
He actually improved to 11.6 PPG / 6.5 RPG / 1.5 BLK in his 2009/10 sophomore season, but still couldn’t find consistent minutes (22:41 MPG). Still, there was hope.
Then he got traded to the Knicks and Fantasy GMs once again were licking their chops at the thought of Randolph hooking up with the offensive genius and player’s coach stylings of Mike D’Antoni. Instead, Randolph was frustratingly glued to the bench – but still produced whenever he got a chance to play.
By the time he got traded to Minnesota, he became a stubborn obsession of mine. I continued to draft him, drop him, then pick him up on waivers again – hoping for him to get some minutes. I even got NBA League Pass to watch Minnesota games to see what exactly was this guy’s problem that even a laid-back, skill loving coach such as Rick Adelman didn’t want anything to do with him. From what I saw in his limited minutes in Minny – Randolph was very active on defense. Maybe it was because he was selfish on offense and shot out of turn? Nope. He shared the ball and took shots within the offense. Anthony Randolph remains a puzzle to me, just like how running the Raptors remains a puzzle to Brian Colangelo.
Here are three other NBA talents that have tempted, tantalized, and will continue to test the patience of Fantasy GMs this year:
Macin Gortat – Phoenix Suns:
Remember when this guy spent four years backing up Dwight Howard in Orlando and everyone was saying he was Starting Centre material? Then he goes to Phoenix where he teams up with today’s greatest passing point guard in Steve Nash – and everyone was expecting the second coming of Tom Chambers. Well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way – as Gortat only put up a modest 13.0 PPG in his first year as a Sun. He followed that up last year with 15.4 PPG, but I think he’s reached his peak – especially with Nash off to L.A. Don’t tell that to Gortat though, who recently said he thinks he can do even do better without Nash this year. (Fantasy Value: Buy low)
Gerald Green – Indiana Pacers
I can’t believe Green is 27 years old now. That’s a lot more candles to blow out on a cupcake at the next dunk contest. Seems just like yesterday he was wowing people so much in his Summer League debut that some folks were even buying bootleg DVDs of his games. Green wasn’t just a dunker though. He had a sweet stroke and could hit treys. At worst, he could have been a bigger, even more athletic version of J.R. Smith (we’ll get to him later). But just like Anthony Randolph – something happened behind the scenes in Boston and subsequent stops in Minny, Houston, and Dallas. I remember Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle giving some insight on Green’s troubles when he cited practice habits and a lack of desire. But Green made a comeback last season in New Jersey and seems to finally have found a home in Indiana this year. I’m willing to take a chance on him as high as the 5th round in a tight 15 team league – a type of league where Ramon Sessions has Fantasy GMs bugging out if he’s still available in the 6th round. (Fantasy Value: Buy high, worth the gamble)
J.R. Smith – New York Knicks
I feel like George Karl because I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Smith over the years. I’ve drafted and traded for Smith more times than I can remember – hoping he’ll breakout one season. Heck, I even left a roster spot for him for a whole month while he tried to choke (literally and figuratively) his way out of China last year. And I’ve been rewarded – in spurts. Smith has helped me win playoff series thanks to 40 point outbursts, a sudden thunderstorm of raining threes in one game, and even some multi-steal games. But he could never put it all together for a consistent stretch. Now that he’s older and seemingly very comfortable in NYC, there’s no reason to believe he can’t finally breakout this year. (Fantasy Value: Buy high. Career year?)
As for my man Anthony Randolph – he’s landed in Denver this season, playing behind the likes of JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried, and Timofey Mozgov. I think there might actually be some opportunity for Randolph to find some minutes in that rotation. I swear that this is the last year that I’ll put my faith in Randolph to breakout. They say good things come to those who wait. And I’ve been waiting since 2009.