When you type in "Zach Randolph" in google with "black hole" and "cancer," titles like Trading for Zach Randolph is Basketball Suicide, Back Hole Sun: Do the Grizzlies Really Not pass? ...etc. Looking through some of the discussion boards, you see things like "Zach is a retarded SOB who thinks he is god, is a black hole, doesn't defend, is overweight, has a terrible attitude, and did I mention he's a cancer?"
Let me begin this article by saying that I have never been a Zach Randolph fan. In fact, I hate his attitude on and off the court. Why am I even writing this article? Because I believe ESPN has overblown Z-bo's negatives. Too many of today's internet writers just copy whatever ESPN churns out. These writers in turn quotes ESPN like its the bible.
Statistics. Now, I know before I even bring up his stats, you are going to think - "Oh, sure Z-bo is a statsheet stuffer, but he doesn't pass the ball." In return, I am going to show you stats that show you he is a very good low post scoring threat who's deficiencies have been condemned unjustly.
First of all, I want to dispute the notion that Zach Randolph is lazy. Yes, he is a piece of fat lard but that doesn't mean he is lazy. Lets use rebounding as a measure of effort. To get rebounds, you have to do either - (1) be really tall, (2) jump really high, (3) get in a good position and box out your man. Randolph is 6'9" and he really doesn't jump very high for NBA standards. So that means he works and gets in position for rebounds. Discounting his first 2 years, Randolph averaged more than 10 rebounds for 5 of the last 7 seasons.
Lets compare that to Rasheed Wallace who is a 4-time all-star and plays just a tad more minutes per game than Randolph. How many seasons have he gotten over 10 rebounds per game? 0. In face, he has only averaged 8 or more in 2 seasons out of his entire career.
If the rebounding averages didn't convince you, lets go into advanced statistics. Career defensive rebound pct: 'Sheed is at 18.7%, Z-bo is at 22.9% and over 25% for the past 3 seasons. Just for the heck of it, I will throw in KG's godly rebounding numbers. KG is at 25.6% career and had 4 seasons of 29.7% or higher during his prime. Oh, and Z-bo doubles Rasheed's offensive rebounds averages, so don't even go there. Here is a top 10 rebounders list on Yahoo!'s Ball Don't Lie. (hint: Z-bo is on it)
OKay... so he is really not that lazy.. but he is a big black hole on offense. The simplest but inaccurate stats too look at is assists averages. RW: 1.9, ZB: 1.7. Both numbers are well within the norm for primary inside scoring options. Z-bo has actually averaged 1.9 and getting higher if his 2 seasons of riding the pine in Portland gets taken out. Dwelling further into passing, Randolph's career assist percentage is actually higher than Rasheed's. 10.6 to 9.8.
Alright. so he passes the ball just like other power forwards, but he jacks up shots and turn the ball over. Looking at turnover averages for number one inside scoring option, Randolph is again right smack down the middle. He does not turn the ball over particularly more than others. His average is the same as Bosh. Rasheed only gets 1.6 TO per game but I would argue that he really isn't an inside force anymore and haven't been for a very long time. Here are the shooting statistics for Rasheed and Zach respectively: FG% .471, TS% .539, eFG% .510 | FG% .466 TS% .520 eFG% .472. So the shooting percentage favors Rasheed but only slightly. I said slightly because Rasheed's 3pt shooting skews the true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentage for him. In the past 2 seasons since Randolph started shooting some 3s, the numbers have been almost identical. You also have to take into consideration that Wallace has always been on good teams with better teammates. Also Rasheed takes less shots and scores way less points. That should help his shooting % in theory.
In my humble opinion, Z-bo would be a really good fit with in Cleveland with Lebron being the undisputed leader and first option. I really believed that had Cleveland courted Randolph and offered the Clippers a similar 2nd round pick, the Cavs would be the consensus NBA champ from day 1. Lebron's dominance on the offense end coupled with Mike Brown's emphasis on defense(with the support of Lebron) already has the Cavs as perennial contender. Add in Randolph's inside scoring and rebounding, they will be unstoappable. There would be no argument on getting more shots as long as Lebron is in charge. Now that he is in Memphis will ballhogs Gay, Mayo and AI, Z-bo will probably nullify everything I just wrote and be a malcontent player.
I never thought I would ever say this but.. please Zach Randolph, show 'the experts' that you are a star and not a black hole.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.
9 Washington Wizards traded Oleksiy Pecherov, Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, 5th pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Randy Foye, Mike Miller
The wizards traded away their lottery pick and a bunch of bit PFs for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. I believe this is a very good move by Washington. There was really no one the Wizards could draft at No. 5 that would contribute immediate or even in 2 years on a playoff roster. This is important because Jamison is already 33 and will start to decline within the next three years. They received Mike Miller, who is a very solid contributor. Personally I believe Miller performs better on a good team which may explain his struggles last season. An amazing article on bulletsforever.com offers statistics/explanations on Miller’s strange season in Minnesota. This deal helps the wizards tremendously as now they can bring Nick Young off the bench. That means no more DeShawn Stevenson and his stupid hand waving taunts. The wizards may not be very deep but Arenas-Jamison-Butler combo is plenty lethal. Blatche and McGee should continue to improve.
Minnesota drafted Johnny Flynn then Ricky Rubio which didn’t make a whole lot of sense. However, if Rubio turns out to be as good as I think he will be then the Wolves made a great trade. That is a big if and it is not even guaranteed that Rubio will play in the NBA within the next 2 seasons. So for now Minnesota is going to receive a big fat F but I reserve the right to change it as David Kahn might get Rubio to come and/or turn Rubio/Flynn into other assets.
Grades: A (Washington Wizards), F (Minnesota Timberwolves)
8 Rasheed Wallace signs with the Boston Celtics (3-yrs, $20m)
Many people might be surprised that Rasheed never averaged more than 20 points nor 9 rebounds in a season. In fact, he has averaged just 12/7 over the past 3 years. Many people believe that he will be able to spread the floor for the Celtics but ‘sheed has not shot over 45% since 2003 season. He is a good 3pt shooter you say. Well, he is a 35% shooter from long range; that is serviceable… for a PF. He does make a decent backup that is if KG is able to come back from his mysterious knee injury. KG/’sheed combo at power forward is lethal but I don’t think it will make the Celtics better than their competitors. Their goal is to win the championship, not be a second round fodder to Cleveland or Orlando. The Celts better hope Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins get even better. All I am trying to say is ‘sheed aint no fab four. Garnett, Wallace and Davis all like to shoot from the outside. What they really need is some inside play to help out Perkins. Of course, getting Rasheed is better than not getting anyone at all.
3 years also seem to be one year too many for the Celtics’s need. Although it would be an attractive expiring contract in 2012.
Grade: C+ (Boston Celtics)
7 Andre Miller signs with the Portland Trailblazers (3-yrs, $21m)
Rumor is that Miller would be coming off the bench behind Steve Blake. However, I am not sure how long that will last. In any case, Miller will be playing the majority of minutes at PG(32min+). Blake will see some action as he is a much more capable long ranger shooter. There is no reason that Brandon Roy won’t mesh with Miller. Everyone was talking about Derrick Rose last season, but in reality Andre Miller had a better regular season than Rose. Miller is a dependable distributor who can direct a young team like this and advance them post season. I believe Miller makes a much better addition than Turkoglu would have been. The Blazers have youth at SF (Batum, Outlaw, and Fernandez) but Blake or Sergio isn’t going to cut it as a starting PG for an elite team.
Grade: A (Portland TrailBlazers)
6 Ron Artest signs with the Los Angeles Lakers (5-yrs, $34m)
I really believe Artest is a better player than Ariza is at this point and will continue to be for the next 2 years. His toughness will definitely improve the Lakers biggest weakness: softness. The deal does seem long especially given Kobe and Artest’s age and mileage. Playing for Phil Jackson will keep Artest in line. Not too sure how well he will mesh with Kobe but it is only fitting for Hollywood if some sort of drama flares up between them. There is not much to say here except Artest is a very good player and his presence will certainly improve the Lakers.
Grade: B (Los Angeles Lakers)
5 Memphis Grizzlies traded for Jerry Stackhouse, 2016 2nd round pick. Orlando Magic traded for cash, $9m trade exception.
Dallas Mavericks traded for Shawn Marion (5-yrs, $38m), Greg Buckner, Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai, cash.
Toronto Raptors traded for Hedo Turkoglu (5-yrs, $53m), Devean George, Antoine Wright.
Orlando receives a $9 million trade exception that they can use any time until next summer. If they are one of the top 2 seeds at the trading deadline, they can use it to acquire a big name start. Or if Vince Carter isn’t working out for them, they can use it the next offseason. This allows them a lot of flexibility and ability to exceed the salary cap. Whatever big move Orlando makes will probably bring them even closer to a championship.
I think Dallas did great in getting Marion. He is super athletic and is great playing transitional offense. He is still signed for 5 years and he is already 30. I actually believe this is okay because Dirk will start to decline in about the same time period so the Mavs will have lots of flexibility when the time comes. Marion will push the Mavs into the playoff but just how far they go is up in the airs. In acquiring Marion, Josh Howard became expandable. Kidd-Terry-Marion-Dirk-(center). So the Mavs has some trading chip in Howard and could significantly upgrade their frontcourt with a trade. Humphries is capable of playing solid minutes as a backup.
A contract for 5 years at more than $10 million per year is pretty ridiculous for a player who has never been an all-star. Toronto reminds a purely jump shooting team without good defense and that is just not going to make them competitive among the top teams. They want to keep Chris Bosh but I am not really sure if this is going to work. I don’t see them being better than Atlanta to even get home court in the first round. At least they are trying.
Grade: A (Orlando Magic), C (Memphis Grizzlies), B+ (Dallas Mavericks), C+ (Toronto Raptors)
4 Phoenix Suns traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, 2010 2nd round pick, cash
Giving up a crippled Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic for Shaq? Hell yes. Adding Shaq really helps the Cavs at the offensive end. They have true point and 2 good outside shooters to go with Lebron. Add Shaq as the inside force and a scrappy player in Varejao. That is a truly solid lineup with everything you need. However much old age has robbed Shaq, he will still be an effective inside presence and a tremendous offensive player. This will only be a good move if Shaq stays motivated and healthy. I doubt motivation will be a problem as he gets to play with Lebron and get a chance to beat Kobe in the finals. One drawback that is coming up in the news is that Lebron did not really give Shaq a welcoming reception. I believe Shaq knows his role and will delight his teammates with his excellent passing ability.
Grade: B+ (Cleveland Cavaliers)
17 Anderson Varejao re-signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers (6-yrs, $50m)
I love the energy and defense that Varejao provide, but I just don’t see worth 50 million dollars. Varejao whined and cried his way into an absurd contract. I do think it is necessary for the Cavs to keep Varejao but I am sure he would have settled for less. Imagine if Lebron leaves Cleveland. Now they are stuck paying a PF who can’t score for another 5 years. I do rather have Varejao than Gortat since he can play more minutes during crunch time.
Grade: D+ (Cleveland Cavaliers)
16 Charlotte Bobcats traded Emeka Okafor to the New Orleans Hornets for Tyson Chandler
Saving money is currently in style in the NBA, so the Hornets and Bobcats want in. On the court, I think Okafor and Chandler are very similar players. Okafor is a little smaller and might have trouble with tradition big centers (Shaq, D.ho, Perkins). I believe Chandler’s stats will never approach that of 2007-08 simply because he will never play with Chris Paul again. Both are good defensive center that can rebound and finish around the basket.
Grade: B- (Charlotte Bobcats), B- (New Orleans Hornets)
15 Trevor Ariza signs with the Houston Rockets (5-yrs, $34m)
Here is Ariza’s number from last season, by far his best: 24 mins, 46% shooting, 32% from 3pt, 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.7 steals, 8.9 points. So over 5 seasons, his highest scoring average is still less than 10. From this, I am having a hard time seeing how Ariza can make much of a difference. This is not to mention that he is a terrible three point shooter. He went on a ridiculous hot streak during last season’s playoff so people forget that he is a career 30% 3pt shooter. I know the Lakers were really high on him and some even designate him as the Kobe successor, but I really don’t see him as much of a scoring threat. Sure he can play defense, but he also plays the same position as Shane Battier. And Battier can shoot the 3. Ariza is nothing more than a complementary player and no where near the level of Ron Artest. He cannot be a franchise player type. I do think the contract is fairly valued, but what are they going to do with Battier’s contract? So now the Rockets are back to where they were 2 seasons ago, but with Yao and Tmac both two years older.
Grade: B- (Houston Rockets)
14 Charlie Villanueva signs with the Detroit Pistons (5-yrs, $35m)
CV31 had a breakout season in 2008-2009, averaging 16 points and 6.7 rebounds in just 27 minutes of play. He should be expected to at least reproduce his stats from last season since he is only 24 and will be a full time starter this season. I think CV31 will get his stats but not sure how well he can help the team. A starting frontline of Kwame and CV would not really excite me if I was a Pistons fan. I think this is an extremely good deal for Detroit in monetary terms. It is a good addition only if you discount the fact that he is replacing Rasheed Wallace.
Grade: B (Detroit Pistons)
13 Ben Gordon signs with the Detroit Pistons (5-yrs, $55m)
Personally, I have always disliked Ben Gordon. Besides being able to score in bunches, he contributes nothing to the team. BG is a terrible defender and a lazy one at that. He not only turns the ball over a ton but also makes terrible decisions with the ball. The pistons are going to live with his terrible shot selections. Gordon can carry a team when he is hot but whatever he contributes in the offensive end, he gives it back on defense. He was a malcontent in Chicago because he had to come off the bench. He never really embraced the role of coming off the bench, but he will have to live with it now that he signed with the Pistons. I am not sure how long BG will be content as a 6th man. The contract is also quite big for BG. For that kind of money, the Pistons could’ve gotten someone who can actually defend. Add to the fact that the Pistons gave up Chauncey for Iverson who now turns into BG. Joe Dumars is really going down the wrong path.
Grade: D (Detroit Pistons)
12 Paul Millsap re-signs with the Utah Jazz (4-yrs, $32m)
Millsap might be a undersized power forward but he certainly can rebound. He is the only player in NCAA history to win the rebounding title three consecutive years. Just that alone shows that he is a very hardworking player and can provide energy to the team. I really like this deal especially the Jazz allegedly was going to give Millsap five years and $50 million. Experts say that Millsap cannot replace Boozer as the starting forward. I disagree. Although Boozer is an all-star and what not, Millsap is a much better two way player. Certainly Millsap doesn’t have Boozer’s offensive repertoire yet, but the Jazz still has plenty of firepower sans Boozer. Guys like AK and Okur will get a few more touches without Boozer. Boozer averaged 21 points 2 seasons ago when he was healthy. Given the same playing time, I am confident Millsap can reach 17ppg. If you count the room for improvement and his defensive hustle, there is really no drop off. I am not just pulling this out of my ass either. The Jazz went 26-19 last season when Boozer was out.
As I have already mentioned, the Jazz got Millsap for a good price and Boozer is still with the team. Now, if they convert Boozer into a decent guard or good backup big, that will really boost the Jazz’s chances this season and in the future. This is not to mention Carlos Boozer has only played 60% of all the possible games he could’ve played in with the Jazz due to injuries.
I also want to add that Paul Millsap went to Louisiana Tech University. Guess who else went there? Karl Malone.
Grade: A (Utah Jazz)
11 Jason Kidd re-signs with the Dallas Mavericks (3-yrs, $25m)
Not much to say here besides the fact that the Mavs had to resign Kidd. Without Kidd, the Mavs would be utterly horrible. They traded their future away (Devin Harris) to get Jason Kidd. They gambled for the title and it didn’t work out. At this age, Kidd cannot stay in front of anyone on defense, but he can certainly still direct a fast break. Unfortunately, they have Mr. NO-WIN and well… they won’t win with him.
Grade: C+ (Dallas Mavericks)
10 Golden State Warriors traded Jamal Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks for Acie Law, Speedy Claxton
I see both sides of the argument on this trade for Atlanta. Surely Crawford will provide enough fire power off the bench. However, I am not sure Crawford will even be as effective as Flip Murray was last season. If it works out, Crawford/Bibby/Johnson is a scary offensive backcourt combination. The Warriors save a lot of money with this trade and gain a possible valuable young PG in Acie. Whether he plays or not, that’s for Don Nelson to decide.
Grade: C+ (Atlanta Hawks), B+ (Golden State Warriors)