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It’s come to my attention that Anthony Randolph has been an under-discussed topic here on Howlin’ T-Wolf. I guess this is why I crossed paths with Jonah and Tom. I mean, during my time at 612 Sports, I wrote several (The over/under is at 10.5) pieces on Randoloph, and thousands upon thousands of words on him. And that’s all topped off by a couple hundred tweets on the subject, too. Why? Fans were always interested him, and I found him quite fascinating, personally.
Now that Randolph is likely gone, and it’s time to reflect on the experiment, we realize that it cannot be summed up in one or two paragraphs properly. Nope, I’m going to add 1k to my Randolph word count and there is nothing you or anyone can do about it. Anyway, there have been many stages we have all gone through before and after we have acquired him.
Stage 1: Intrigue and Desire
“OMG, look at how athletic he is!” “Wow! He can dunk!” “I can’t believe he doesn’t play more than he does!” Does any of this sound familiar? Be honest. I’ll admit it; I went through stage one myself at one point. After all, watch this video and tell me that you wouldn’t have had your interest piqued a couple of years ago.
Obviously, this was before he was first traded from Golden State to New York and had yet to realize there was a reason he could barely crack the rotation of several lottery teams, and it wasn’t all Don Nelson’s fault. This was our first taste of the Anthony Randolph Kool-Aid, and quickly guzzled down the first glass while flagging down our waitress for a refill.
Stage 2: Rationalization and Justification
At this point we began seeking out Warriors games just to get a glimpse of Randolph in action, and dreaming in above the rim highlight videos. However, we first realized that he’s not a strong shooter, he might be undersized, his ball handling is overrated, makes poor decisions, and couldn’t be trusted to guard your lawn chairs at a music festival, nevertheless NBA centers. Oh yeah, and Anthony Randolph face.
Did that put us off? No! Did that diminish our interest? Never! Did we stop for one second to wonder if we were valuing physical traits over actual skill? Of course not!
Instead of thinking logically we said things like, “He doesn’t play enough!”, “Look at his PER and Per 36 minutes numbers!”, and “He just needs the right coach!”. At this point, we were asking the waitress to just leave the pitcher of Anthony Randolph Kool-Aid at the table so she didn’t have to keep returning every 5-minutes.
Stage 3: Anger and Just a Hint of Delusion
This is a fun time to look back on, after Randolph was a throw-in in the David Lee sign-and-trade, and we thought that the Knicks just got away with murder by stealing all of that untapped potential. And we were mad! It was Kahn’s fault for not doing enough, and even some fans would’ve been willing to give up Love and mid-1st to get him.
Now, we were gonna watch Randolph thrive in Mike D’Antoni’s system, and have to lament what could’ve been. I mean, had they had AR at the start of the season there is no way the Wolves finish with the league’s worst record.
At this point, we had all ordered our own pitchers, and binging on the Randolph Kool-Aid as the waitress chides us that we’ve had enough. Still, as long as Kahn was interested, we were gonna sit at that table and drink away.
Stage 4: Jubilation and More Delusion
“Wow, Corey Brewer was all it took to acquire Anthony Randolph! What a steal!” At the time, this wasn’t so ridiculous, because the Wolves had just declined his option for the next season, and would not be back. Now, Anthony Randolph – a player who we had suspicions of having a low basketball I.Q. – was going to learn a very intricate offense in less than half of a season, and reveal Kahn and Rambis as geniuses.
Finally, Randolph was about to blossom as he saw his first consistent minutes since leaving LSU, and we were all going to be witnesses. Well, we were witnesses; nobody told us that would be to a grisly murder or a horrific car wreck and not the second-coming of Hakeem Olajuwon.
In all of our excitement, we tipped over our Anthony Randolph Kool-Aid and the waitress has now begun to mutter profanities under her breath while giving us a dirty look. Everything is just peachy at this point.
Stage 5: Realization of the Dream
Randolph started of rusty, but posted a couple of double-doubles in garbage time, and even had one exceptional game late in the season. We thought he was finally getting it, and I even wondered aloud at the time if the Wolves should just start Darko for the last dozen meaningless games of that season. In this stage, we were hoping all of the warts on his game would magically disappear and the consistency would come. After all, he hadn’t played that much.
After cleaning up our mess, our waitress returns with new pitchers of Kool-Aid with an unexpected and surprising grin on her face…
Stage 6: Dreaming is Stupid
Fast forward to the beginning of the 2011-’12 season and many of us begun to get sick from all of the Kool-Aid we had been drinking for three straight years. We realized that he wasn’t just raw, but that he wasn’t actually very good, and there was a reason that three previous coaches and now Rick Adelman couldn’t find a use for him.
When he wasn’t getting ragdolled on the defensive end by bigger players, he was aborting basic pick-and-roll sets with his poor screen setting skills, making questionable turnovers, and showcasing a very poor shot selection. You might think that a 3 year veteran would have developed some post moves, but his moves were still very basic, and had no counter moves to go with. And most times, he appeared to be guessing what to do and hoping for the best on both ends. Worse yet, he appeared disengaged, and generally out of it more times than not. Here’s the fascinating thing: His confidence changed almost by the quarter.
Maybe this is why he’s frustrated coaches, GM’s and scouts for years.
By now, we realized that we had not only drank way too much Kool-Aid, but that the waitress had sneezed in our drinks, and weren’t feeling the greatest. You know what? We deserved it.
Stage 7: Ready to Move On
A year and a half of watching Randolph has been plenty for most of us. By now, we get the idea of who he is, and isn’t; there are a lot more things in the “isn’t” category, let me tell you. Mercifully, this is the last year of his deal and the Timberwolves did not pick up his option for next season! That’s the good news.
The Randolph experience was good for us, though. We learned that it’s foolish to ignore actual basketball skill in favor of elite physical tools, and that stats, even the advanced ones, can be deceiving if you don’t watch the games, too. Maybe we’ve even learned that if four professional coaches in three years can’t make anything out of a player who was taken in the mid-1st round, that maybe it’s just not meant to be. Yes, there are exceptions, but more times than not, these cases end up as rules.
And no more Kool-Aid, please.