This is the slow time in the NBA off-season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start looking ahead to the 2010-11 season and which players might surprise us. The Slept-on Files will feature some of the players you might have overlooked or written off — and give you reasons why you shouldn’t.

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Anthony Randolph’s File — Career numbers: 2 seasons, 96 games, 19.6 MPG, 9.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 0.7 SPG; 2009-10 numbers: 33 games, 22.7 MPG, 11.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 0.8 SPG

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Why he’s being slept on: Playing for the Golden State Warriors certainly doesn’t help, but Randolph has flown under the radar of many NBA fans since he was drafted 14th overall in 2008 after one season at LSU. In spite of his athletic gifts, he and mercurial Warriors coach Don Nelson often didn’t see eye-to-eye and his playing time varied wildly in the season-and-a-half before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury on Jan. 8 against the Cavaliers. With all the big names changing teams this past off-season, the sign-and-trade which sent David Lee to the Warriors and Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike and Rony Turiaf back to the Knicks didn’t make much of a splash.

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Why he shouldn’t be slept on: If he can stay healthy, this 21-year-old will most likely emerge as the best player to be a part of that Knicks-Warriors trade. His combination of length, athleticism, ball-handling and passing skills are extremely rare — he’s a longer, more athletic Lamar Odom. You might think that the Knicks will miss David Lee’s rebounding, but Randolph should fill that need nicely if Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni gives him enough playing time.

It remains to be seen how D’Antoni will distribute minutes among their three main frontcourt players — Amare Stoudemire, Turiaf and Randolph — but Randolph’s career averages per 36 minutes (16.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.3 steals) are so impressive and he’s so well-suited to D’Antoni’s fast-paced system that I’ll be shocked if D’Antoni doesn’t make him one of the Knicks’ key players next season. So far, it seems like D’Antoni’s main Randolph-related conundrum is which position he should play:

“He’s a multi-position player that has a world of talent whose athleticism is off the charts. He’s only played two years in the league and just turned 21. There’s a lot of positives and we’ll figure out where we fit him in, and figure out what the best position is for him, but he can play a lot of places.”

Now that he’s ballin’ in The Basketball Mecca, don’t be surprised when fans start asking who this Anthony Randolph kid is and where he came from. When you play under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, nobody’s sleeping on you — for better or worse.

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Comments (10)

  1. Randolph has great potential, but why is everyone so quick to write off David Lee? Randolph will be lucky if he EVER has a year as good as Lee’s 09-10 season (20/12/3.5 on 55% shooting). It’s like everyone immediately writes him off as this unathletic, unskilled hustle guy, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s, in all likelihood, the best passing big man in the NBA right now (although I think Greg Monroe will earn that title in a few seasons), he has a killer midrange game, sneaky athleticism — he beat James White in a high school dunk contest — and has improved every single season.

    Critics say his stats are due to D’Antoni’s system, while advanced statistics (and Kelly Dwyer) say that’s not really the case. And even if it was, he’ll be playing at an even higher pace in Golden State. He’s accused of being a terrible defender, but he posted a substantially lower D-rating than the Knicks’ team average — and that was when he was forced to play WAY out of position at Center with no front court help at all (Al Harrington).

    I like Randolph as much as the next guy — his highlights are unreal — but Lee is an incredibly skilled player who has PROVEN he can play at an elite level and continues to improve. Randolph will be very, very lucky if he ends up as good as David Lee.

  2. Thom: It’s on the defensive side where Randolph’s potential surpasses Lee’s ability. There’s a reason most Knicks aren’t shedding any tears about his departure. According to 82games.com, the Knicks allowed 113.1 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor and 109.8 points per 100 possessions when he was on the bench.

    There’s no question Lee’s good and he’ll surely flourish playing Nellie-ball, but Randolph is a unique talent with the potential to be an impact player on both ends of the court.

  3. In my mind, there are still 4 questions about Randolph:
    1. Can he play the 4 and defend the 4 as well? Or is he too skinny? He’s young, true, but I don’t want to see him get too bulky as that might impact his athleticism. Hopefully, he can fill out like KG, strong enough.
    2. Does he have a good work ethic? There were questions about his work ethic and his relationship with Don Nelson, plus playing on Don Nelson’s GS team probably didn’t help him too much.
    3. Can he improve his shooting mechanic? Cause it’s pretty damn ugly.
    4. Has he officially surpassed Shavlik Randolph as the best Randolph in the NBA? Z-Bo gave it a try, but none can match the awe-inspiring might of Shavlik.

  4. Ah man. David Lee is an excellent proven solid player in the league, but Randolph reminds me of a baby-er Bosh. If he didn’t get injured I definitely think he would have worked his way into a bosh like player. He basically has the same skills as Bosh. The only difference, is that Bosh has been in the league longer. Randolph has the potential to out shine David Lee because of the play on both ends. If Randolph bulks up like Bosh did, and doesn’t get injured and perfects the mid-range jumper, he can be an all-star with his talent.

    @Scott Carefoot. Who doesn’t watch the Warriors after they upset the Mavericks?! I knew that was going to happen because i watched them before that. They were the revamped L.A. Clippers of the early millennium. Now that title has gone to the Nuggets or Thunder.

    KEEP IT JIGGY!

  5. one regret.. randolph and steph curry for a full season would be delicious. ray felton just ain’t the same. course, nellie would never have played him enough to enjoy it anyway.

  6. @thom:
    quote: | Randolph will be very, very lucky if he ends up as good as David Lee |

    Excuse me but Luck has NOTHING to do with the fact that Randolph will be better than Lee. Randolph can jump and touch a top of backboard, do you understand that? He is sick handles and he is 21 years old. Under a right coach( def not Don Nelson ) he can be a dominant 2 way player.

    Lee is an offensive only player with hustle. And no “good rebounding” on bad fast paced team(including Warriors) can change the fact that Lee SUCKS on defense. So by signing Lee Warriors guaranteed that they will not compete for another 15 years.

    One more important fact that makes the trade of Randolph sickening is that he could have been and wanted to play SF position, but never really given a chance to play there. He certainly has foot speed to play SF on defense which is amazing for a 6’11 player.

    I’m looking forward to watch Knicks this year a lot more and hopefully D’Antoni will play Randolph at point forward 10-12 minutes a game.

    Bottom line: Lee is overachiever and Randolph is not even close to reaching his potential. And his potential is so scary, than even if the glass will be half-full Knicks and their fans will be very pleased with this “sign-and-trade” move.

  7. @Sriracha & Cdr Riker

    Rather than taking the time to refute all of your points, I’ll let Kelly Dwyer cover most of it for you (http://tiny.cc/1zjlx).

    As for your assertions about his defense (as well as Scott’s), I will definitely concede the point that Lee was a below-average defender last year. Here’s the thing, though. Lee is 6’8″, but was forced to play at center, and maybe more importantly, was surrounded by consistently terrible help defenders. Anyone would look bad if they were undersized at their position and had to rely on Al Harrington for defensive help. Lee will be playing Power Forward in Golden State next to Andris Biedrins — who is a good defender — and Ekpe Udoh, whose main focus at Baylor was defense and shot-blocking.

    The main thing I want people to concede is that Randolph only has the POTENTIAL to be better than Lee. There is no guarantee he will ever reach that potential, let alone stay healthy, and there are some serious question marks with him — especially if he doesn’t gain some weight. It’s absolutely unfair to Lee to say that Randolph will conclusively, or even most likely be the best player in this trade. Defensive issues aside, I’d say Pau Gasol is the only big man more skilled offensively than Lee.

  8. Lee is a great player in this league who’s slowly getting the rep he deserves; his “lack of athleticism” and bad defense are entirely over-rated. I don’t know if anyone on this blog has ever gone to a Knicks game and seen how he plays the game, but I’ve seen him pretty often. He moves without the ball, constantly creates space for his teammates, sets hard picks for off-ball players, moves the ball quickly, rarely takes a shot out of offensive flow, and does 1000 things per game that don’t get utilized by teammates or noticed by fans.

    But thanks for this sleeper article. Randolph looks good! I don’t feel so bad about the downgrade from Lee to Stoudemire now.

    And lee’s really not that unathletic, you racists.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78J091slHmQ

  9. Nothing against Randolph, but he is not in the same comparison with Bosh, who just dropped a 20-10 average last year. I would be surprised if Randolph ever does that….

  10. “If he can stay healthy, this 21-year-old will most likely emerge as the best player to be a part of that Knicks-Warriors trade”

    What are you smoking? And more importantly who are you Scotty? And what happened to Skeets?

    Read my text based lips….David….Lee.

    Don Nelson (who should have traded some of his other garbage earlier in the season before the majority of his line up got injured) will most likely produce some of Lee’s better basketball next season. Plus, Lee will be playing with a shooter that’s only going to get better (Curry) and someone who can score most nights in Monta Ellis I think people look past the fact that despite being a 20-10 stud last season he can also pass the ball as well.

    There’s no denying Randolph’s ceiling is high and while Amare, Danilo and him are on the floor at the same time running the knicks seem like much more of an entertaining/promising team than last season, which wouldn’t be difficult, but it leaves the knicks also as team that’s just asking to get overpowered physically especially on defense. If this happens or if one of those three get injured Turiaf will get more minutes than people think in an D’Antoni system which pains me to say will suck as bad as last year.

    Lee could make as big a difference to the league, as much as potentially the other randolph did after he left the knicks and turned into a completely different player. being first option all the time can take a toll of some, so can playing for the knicks I guess as well.

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