Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Where Oh Where Should Randolph Play?

Until Friday the Golden State Warriors’ offseason had been a quiet one. Albeit for drafting Stephen Curry and a couple Amar’e Stoudemire trade rumors, Oakland’s finest have coasted under the radar for most of the summer.

But that was all forgotten when guard/forward Stephen Jackson announced his desire to be traded, seeking greener pastures and another championship opportunity (he nabbed a ring in ’03 with the Spurs). Dispute Jackson’s quality as a basketball player all you want, but in the waning months before the NBA season this is big news.

This big news is precisely the inspiration for the following words, although they stray from Jackson a bit.

With the concept that Jackson wants to be on a contender – and possibly vice versa – Warrior fans have flooded chats, message boards and comment sections with ideas to get Jack out of the Bay. The crux of many trade ideas have the Warriors seeking a low-post presence with some playoff pedigree, while moving star-in-the-making forward Anthony Randolph to small forward.

The nation of Golden State fans have suggested, among others, Udonis Haslem, Jason Maxiell, Kenyon Martin and even Michael Beasley.

I digress, for the sole purpose of this rambling is to solidly dispute that Randolph – on whom Golden State’s hopes and dreams hinge – should ever move out of the paint to start at small forward. At least not any time soon.

First and foremost, he can’t shoot from beyond the arc. One of the tenants of Don Nelson’s small-ball ideology is that every skill player he has on the floor can shoot the 3. Just look at the current roster, featuring 3-point aces Anthony Morrow and Kelenna Azubuike, accompanied by CJ Watson, Devean George, Curry and Jackson (for now). Of course Randolph is all of 20 years old so developing a triple is not out of the question. However, Nellie loves mismatches, and if Randolph was a 3-point threat, it might be best served at power forward to draw out opposing big men. I seem to remember Nelson being quite successful with a power forward named Dirk Nowitzki who lived beyond the arc.

Furthermore, what does Randolph do best? To be exact it is a blend of shot blocking, rebounding and hustle points like put-backs. Now, if that skill set is moved out on the perimeter to guard small forwards, Randolph is now between 15 and 20 feet away from the area of the floor he is most effective. The tenacious defending of the rim? Gone. Flying above the opposition to slam home errant shots? Gone. Moving him outside the paint removes Randolph from the place he is at his best.

Ironically, Randolph’s speed is the final reason he should stay at the four. One of the reasons everyone is wowed by what he does is that the quickness and skills come in a lanky 6’11” package. But that exact package gives him an edge over other power forwards. Let us pretend the Warriors are facing the Houston Rockets. At small forward, Trevor Ariza will have a significantly easier time dealing with Randolph than teammate and power forward Luis Scola. It is Randolph’s perimeter quickness that gives him an advantage against interior players.

For sure, it will be interesting to see where his development takes him – at all of 20 years old the sky is seemingly the limit. But for the foreseeable future, at least, Randolph seems much better suited exploiting the physical advantages he has against the bigger bodies of the NBA.

Dr. Murphy out…

1 comment:

  1. Don't you think the A's are Oakland's finest? I do!