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NBA Draft Preview: Anthony Randolph



Rush The Court asked me to give a draft preview of former LSU forward Anthony Randolph.  I agreed to do it, but warned him that I wasn't really a big fan of Randolph. An older version of this article is posted here.  I made a couple of small edits since submitting it to him, but it's substantially the same. He said that was fine, so here's my preview.  Keep in mind, I know next to nothing about the NBA (I don't even, honestly, know when the Draft is), and while I am somewhat knowledgeable about college basketball, I don't consider myself an expert.  But I have watched Randolph quite a bit while watching LSU, and here's what I see:



  1. Very good basketball skill.  He looks as fluid on the court as anyone you will see.  For a tall man, he is quite confident with the ball in his hands.  He is agile on the court and good around the rim.  I don't think he's Magic Johnson or anything, but he clearly has the skill to be an NBA player.  He is decent with the dribble, pretty good out in space unless you want him to shoot it from beyond 15 feet, and generally looks like he can really play basketball.
  2. Very good length.  He's a tall, long-armed kid who can easily play above the rim and make it very difficult to shoot over him.
  3. Solid Athleticism.  While he's not a "jump out the gym" type like former Tiger Tyrus Thomas, he's got good athleticism.  He can run and jump a bit.
  1. Lack of Passion.  A lot of commentators probably will list "lack of physical strength" as his biggest drawback, but having watched him quite a lot, it's plain to me that even more serious of a concern is his lack of passion.  He's a guy who rarely seems concerned about winning or losing or how things are going on the court.  If you've ever been out to a club and seen a guy just staring at himself while dancing, that's Randolph.  As long as he's doing OK, that's fine with him.  He doesn't seem to care very much about the team aspect of basketball.  I really don't think it's a coincidence that his last two teams (the 2007-2008 LSU basketball team and his senior-year high school team) were both rather bad teams despite having a talent like him on it.  If you think about it, of all the one-and-done players in college this year (Eric Gordon, OJ Mayo, Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, etc.), which one played on the worst team?  Answer: Anthony Randolph.  Randolph was the only player talented enough to enter the NBA after high school who failed to elevate his college team to a national stage.  LSU, with Randolph, was not even an NIT team despite being a fairly solid program historically, and despite having players on the team who were actually solid contributors to a Final Four team two years ago.  The cast around Randolph wasn't great, but it wasn't that bad either.  Randolph did not make that team significantly better than it would have been without him, in my opinion. I think that says something about Randolph.  And yes, I know he had teammates, but so did Michael Beasley, and Beasley's teammates weren't very good either, but K-State had its best season in recent memory because of Beasley.  LSU had Randolph and was still mediocre.
  2. Lack of Physical Strength.  Now we get to the one that everyone mentions, and they mention it because it's true.  Randolph is just physically immature, even for his age, and he'll be one of the youngest players in the draft.  While Randolph is comfortable away from the basket, he isn't good enough outside the paint to make a living there in the NBA.  Randolph will have to earn his NBA money by competing in the paint, and he isn't strong enough (yet) to really compete with the bulked up NBA players.  He's a guy who makes his living with a quick first step near the goal and a slick move.  He was frequently out-muscled by SEC competition, and the SEC isn't even the best COLLEGE competition.  Until he bulks up a little, the NBA post players will eat him alive.  This means that whoever drafts him will have to wait a while to see him productive.
  3. Not a lot of basketball experience.  This is self-explanatory.  He's young, and he's only had one year of college coaching, and it was John Brady-coaching at that.  He's going to be a little behind the learning curve compared to the sophomores and juniors that make up the bulk of the draft, not to mention the experienced players who make up the bulk of the NBA.
  4. Doesn't have star upside.  He wasn't even great in college.  He was good.  But he wasn't great.  He didn't dominate the college competition.  He's neither a great shooter nor a great penetrator nor a great defender nor a great passer or playmaker.  He's decent at a lot of things, great at none.  He can be a solid NBA player if he develops, but I don't see All-Stars in his future.
My consensus, in reading mock drafts that have him going in the top 10, is that he must be way overrated.  I don't think he has superstar potential, plus I think he has a substantial understudy period before he becomes a really useful player.  Plus, because of his lack of passion, I question the chances that he'll reach whatever upside he has.  He seems like a player who is a substantial risk to flounder and fail to reach his potential.

I think whoever drafts him that high is going to end up disappointed.  Now, if the NBA teams gather some sense and drop him down into the 20s where they're just looking for guys who can play some basketball, Randolph will be a much better pick.  I don't think he's bad, but his top 10 status is, frankly, bewildering to people who watched him at LSU.  He just never showed that kind of ability or competitive drive.