Player by Player: Zach Randolph

Today's discussion involves Zach Randolph.  To provide a little perspective we have the following guest commentator...errr...commentators?

                                            

Yessssss!  We wantsss it.  We wantsss it!  Yes, precious.  Twenty-four pointses.  Gollum.  Tasty, crunchy pointses.  Gollum.

But what abouts the culture, precious?  Smeagol likes the nice, nice culture.

Achhhh!  Hsssssssss!  It burns us!  It burns us!  Nassssssty, nassssssty culture.

But we must be kinds. Make friends!  Not so selfish.

We are kinds!  We are nice!  Evil, tricksy, false reporters write bad thingsssss!  Gollum.  They lie on us!  They lie!  Gollum.

But we will be nice?

Oh yessssss.  Always nice.  Gollum.  Gollum.

Shares the ball?

Achhhhh! Nooooo!  The pointses!  They belong to us!  Gollum.  We neeeeds them!  Gollum.  Gollum.

But we will plays the defense?

Tries we will.  Gollum.

Yes, tries.  Smeagol always tries hard.  Makes new friends happy.  And runs back down?

We don't like to runs.  Gollum.  Silly people, always running.

But when Smeagol runs maybe Smeagol gets more points?

Lies!  Lies!  We musssst have the ball.  Gollum.  No running!  No passing!  Only pointses!  Gollum.  Gollum.

What about the reboundses, my precious?

Yessss.  Gets the reboundses.  More reboundses, more pointses.  Gollum.  Gollum.  One day we will have all the pointses to ourselves!

Is that what we want, precious?

Oh yessss.  Gollum.  More reboundses, more pointses.  Then they makes us an all-ssstar.

Yessss.  All-ssstar.  All-ssstar Smeagol.  No, Lord Smeagol!

Kings, my precious.  Yessss.  Gollum.  Gollum.

Yes, King Smeagol!  King Smeagol the Great!  Then all the pointses will be ours!

Yessss, precious.

But we will be nice?

Oh yessss...very nice.  Nice to ourselves, precious.

Yes, nice to ourselves.  Smeagol's culture.

Gollum.  Gollum.

Gollum.

Hmmmmmm...that was a little weird.  But they do bring up some vital questions about trustworthiness and motivation.  It's never really been a matter of whether Zach is good at what he does.  It's more a question of what his ultimate goals are and whether those fit with the long-term goals of this team.  It's hardly been a vital issue for the last four years but it will hopefully start to become one as we get better and can start thinking more about the long-term plan.

I may be all wet about this, but to me, Zach seems like a "roadblock" player.  He's dominating enough in certain aspects of the game that you have to give him a major spot but he's not complete enough to use that spot to carry you where you need to be.  You cannot ignore him out on the floor.  If he's not playing his best game we usually lose.  As I've said before, some of our worst games of the year came when he played but we weren't relying on him.  On the other hand he's not the kind of player who helps other players except in the most obtuse ways...i.e. drawing a double team and freeing up somebody else a little (if we can get the ball out of his hands and to them).  He's going to take a large amount of shots.  He needs to hold the ball a large amount of the time to be effective.  His defense is going to be adequate on his best nights and somewhat less on his normal ones so you have to cover for him on that end.  All those resources have to be poured into him to get that production and to keep him motivated.  This is an inescapable part of his game.  Are those resources being spent wisely?  

If you don't play the way that suits him you totally waste him and all that money you're paying him.  But if you do play his kind of game how soon are you going to hit the ceiling and are you wasting other players in the meantime?  It's not a great situation to find yourself in.

I have gone on record saying if we make a trade I don't want a player who helps in the short term but won't get us where we need to go.  I need to amend that perhaps.  I don't want another player who helps us in the short term but won't get us where we need to go.  Most of the proposed deals for major talent involve Zach, but it would be a complete waste of time to move Zach for another Zach with different strengths and the same liabilities.  At least Z-Bo has some low post and rebounding skills which are usually good things to bank on.  But it would be nice not to have the problem in the first place.

Obviously we aren't the only ones asking these questions.  You can't read a column about Zach anywhere without coming up against some of them. And this comes after what is inarguably the best season of his career.  That doesn't bode well.  Here are his stats.  How do you think his year went and how does that affect his value and his long-term prospects with this team?

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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