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.
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
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.
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.