By: Zachariah Blott
Imagine your team has a 20-year-old 7-footer who’s every bit as exciting on offense as Kevin Durant is inside the arc, rebounds like Garnett in his prime, and has shown the athleticism to guard all five positions like… Garnett. What do you do? Market him as the future of your franchise? Make sure he’s getting a ton of court experience? Build your team around his skills?
Well if you’re the Golden State Warriors, you trade him. Second-year forward Anthony Randolph is so obviously a superstar in the making, articles praising his upward trajectory and potential flooded the Internet before the season started. No matter: the youngster is in Don Nelson’s doghouse, barely playing 20 minutes a game, not starting, and is now just another piece waiting to be shipped out of Oakland.
Looking back on what’s turning out to have been a pretty decent 2008 NBA Draft (here’s some of the “no-names” from that draft: Danilo Gallinari, D.J. Augustin, Jason Thompson, Marreese Speights, Roy Hibbert, Ryan Anderson, Mario Chalmers, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and the undrafted Anthony Morrow), Randolph currently ranks behind only Brook Lopez and Derrick Rose as a worthy, potential cornerstone for a developing franchise. When it’s all said and done, it’s not hard to imagine Randolph as the top player from the class of ’08.
He put his Garnett-esque skillset on full display when he became a starter in the last month of the 2008-09 season, chalking up pers of 15 and 11, along with 1.6 blocks and 1.5 steals. He was active and exciting and made Golden State’s future look palatable. Randolph followed it up by working his tail off in the offseason and blowing up the Summer League. He was poised to have a true breakout season… then the Warriors happened.
Don Nelson’s bizarre mix-and-match system for selecting starting lineups has resulted in 12 different Golden State players starting at least one game, with Randolph starting a single contest. Anonymous sources cite maturity issues with the youngster, but this is the franchise that made Stephen Jackson its captain, and has Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette holding things down.
If the Warriors want to trade a player who can do almost everything, and who earns less than $2 million per year, I’m sure they can find at least 29 teams willing to talk.