Tagged: Zach Randolph

DrayBlatche

Should Your Team Trade For Andray Blatche?

Having seen Andray Blatche play on a number of occasions over the past few years I feel confident in saying that he’s a good basketball player.  He can score from either the blocks or the perimeter.  He rebounds well.  And if he gets hot, he can easily go for 20 and carry a team to victory.

Now should Andray Blatche be the best player on a team? Definitely not.  And even if he were the second or third best player on your team there’d be no guarantee of success.  But that does not mean that he wouldn’t be an asset to most teams in this league.

Blatche’s biggest weakness as a professional basketball player is, well, it’s, Andray Blatche. 

His contract is not too onerous.

He is capable of averaging 13pts and 7 rebounds a game.

And did I mention he’s 6’10”?

If you called into any front office and you told them that you have a 26year old 6’10 player who’d give them 13 & 7 a night they’d likely jump at the opportunity to sign this person.

However, if you happened to lead with that you have Andray Blatche, the conversation is likely to instantly go cold.

The fear of Blatche precedes the realities of the actual player.  Blatche is not the first player in this regard, and nor will he be the last.  What makes escaping his own reputation more difficult for Blatche than it is for other players who’ve had to deal with this issue is that in truth Blatche is a pretty average player.  He’s not like Rasheed Wallace or Vince Carter, players who arguably could have accomplished significantly more with their talents.  It’s been so long since Blatche was considered a prodigy that the general public has long since forgotten any talk of him having an unsurpassable ceiling.  Seven years into his career, Andray Blatche is simply Andray Blatche, and the cold hard truth is that Andray Blatche is someone most teams would rather do without.

But Blatche does not have a bad enough attitude or even perception, like say what plagued Zach Randolph and his “Jail Blazers” teammates early in his career.  With Randolph you could at least talk yourself into trading for him because there was an edge to go along with the talent. There’s no such overriding edge with Blatche.

He’s essentially Joe Smith with a bad attitude.

However, if you see him play, you can’t help but wonder how Blatche would perform if he weren’t playing alongside a point guard who can make a good pass, and teammates who seem to forget one another once the ball finds its way into their hands.

How would Blatche do playing alongside Steve Nash or Chris Paul for example?  How would he do as the sixth man for the Heat, Spurs, or even the Lakers?

I’m willing to bet there’s a second act in the career of Andray Blatche.  And for his and The Wizards sake, that second act kicks off on March 15th.

G- Dwyane Wade

NBA All-Star Inury Team

With NBA All-Star balloting in full swing and given that the NBA is slowly but surely turning into a league where “injuries happen,” I thought I should come up with an injured/questionable/doubtful/probable (hurt but will likely play) All-Star Team.  Since fans are unlikely to see these players, even as the league justifies its quick return through appealing to fan desires to see the game back on the court, I thought we could celebrate the greatness of the league by reflecting on their absence:

Click through the slide show below to see the starters on this NBA All-Star Injury Team.  However, a quick glance at this team’s bench gives you some insight into how potent an injury lineup has emerged a quarter of the way into this season.  Bench players: Forwards: Charlie Villanueva; Michael Beasley; Andrea Bargnani. Centers: Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett.  Guards: Jason Kidd; Jose Juan Barea, Baron Davis; Eric Maynor.  While being flippant here, it is imperative to think about how the 2011-2012 season is one where injuries happen.

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G- Stephen Curry

Curry is starting to look like his generation’s Steve Nash, another guard whose early career was plagued by nagging injuries. Nash eventually righted himself when he began playing with big men like Dirk Nowitzki and Amar’e Stoudemire who excelled in the pick and roll game. Time will tell if Curry finds his big man counterpart.

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G- Dwyane Wade

If there’s one bright spot to Wade’s recent stints on the injured list is that it will enable LeBron James and Chris Bosh to come into their own in Miami. Once Miami fans see that James and Bosh can carry this team then this trio’s “Big Three” persona might actually be chrystallized.

Melo

F- Carmelo Anthony

Either Knick forward could have gone here. This team’s abhorrent backcourt play has put a lot of pressure on Anthony and Stoudemire. Now that he’s getting spot duty at “point forward” it will be interesting to see if Anthony has enough left come playoff time for the Knicks to make a run.

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F- Al Horford

Casual fans underestimate the pounding that low post players take. Battling the Udonis Haslem’s and Reggie Evans’ of this world is hard enough, but when you’re having to play out of position and compete against bigger players like Horford has had to for much of his career in Atlanta, injuries are inevitable.

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F- Zach Randolph

Randolph, one of the anchors to the Grizzlies' surprising playoff run last year is likely out until early March. Grizzlies fans are hoping the team can stay in contention until Z-Bo returns.

For the most-part the media has failed to reflect on the injuries, on how these injuries are the result of the money grab.  Yet, it is crucial to not only highlight the cluster of injuries, and the types of injuries that seem to point to the impact of a non-existent training camp and the wear and tear of a compressed season, but what this reveals about the NBA and the sports-industrial complex (not to mention global capitalism).  It is emblematic of the ways in which profits are put in front of people.  It is emblematic of the logic of Neoliberalism capitalism, which identifies markets, consumer needs, and profit margins as the primary compass for economic relations.  The fact that players are suffering injuries in alarming rates is a testament to the ways in which bodies, particularly bodies of color and women, are exploited and abused for sake of money within the sports industry and beyond.  As a tenet of capitalism, and reflective of cultural obsession with wealth, it is no wonder that the ideology of profits ahead of people is so visible on NBA benches.  So, if you get tired of the NBA’s new motto, “where injuries happen,” maybe we should start calling it “The NBA: profits before people”

-grizz

Grizzlies Step Closer to Ousting Spurs

When Spurs coach Greg Popovich looks at the Memphis Grizzlies it must bring back memories of his old Spurs teams.  Like the Spurs early part of this decade, Memphis features a lane clogging seven-footer with great passing skills alongside a guaranteed 20-10 a night power forward.  On the perimeter is a gnat named Tony Allen reminiscent of Bruce Bowen, and Shane Battier, a spot up 3-point shooter in the vein of a later-stage Sean Elliot.  Neophyte guards Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo are not unlike their Spurs counterparts Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili when they first entered the league.  Given all these similarities it shouldn’t be a surprise that this Grizzlies team is giving their forerunners a tougher challenge than most expected.

One reason that the Grizzlies were dismissed was because of the lingering misconception that they’re a young/in-experienced team.  That may have very well been the case last year when they made a push and eventually lost out to OKC for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot, but this is far from the truth.  Even before the mid-season trade that added Battier, Memphis had already acquired 6-year veteran Allen, who was also a member of the 2008 championship Celtics teams.  Zach Randolph, the patriarch of this squad is a 10-year NBA veteran who had playoff experience with the Trailblazers early on in his career.  Even Marc Gasol played professionally in Spain prior to joining the NBA.  When paired with the youthful energy of Conley, Mayo, Sam Young and Darrell Arthur, the Grizzlies wield a potent blend of veteran savvy and young legs.

Moreover, Memphis also falls under the radar because other than the injured Rudy Gay, they lack the high-wire stars who are perennially featured on Sports Center.  The Spurs are probably the only other team who plays below the rim more than the Grizzlies.  What Memphis lacks in showstopping dunks they make up ten-fold in fundamentally sound play.  Randolph and Gasol are not going to be confused with Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard  anytime soon (if you’ll allow a bit of sacrilege they remind me of Mchale and Parrish), but they rebound effectively and both pass well out of the post, especially Gasol.  In fact it’s Memphis’ high IQ post play that led to the banishment of 2009 first-round pick Hasheem Thabeet who was capable of jumping out of the gym, but incapable of making an entry pass from the high post or hitting a cutter.

Striking out on the Thabeet pick is a crucial distinction between Memphis and San Antonio. Whereas San Antonio was able to build a dynasty around their lottery big man, Tim Duncan, Memphis had to cut their losses by adding veterans who can help them win now.  However, given how stocked the west is, it’s hard to imagine Memphis being able to move beyond the middle of the pack with this current roster.  Grizzlies fans should enjoy this spring’s magical playoff run because future playoff triumphs will likely be few and far in between.

 

F-Zach Randolph

Z-Bo Gets Paid. GRIZZLIES WIN (Sort of)

If it could only be so easy for the rest of us, but as Chris Broussard reports Zach Randolph was handsomely rewarded with a 4-year 71million dollar contract extension for leading the Memphis Grizzlies to their first playoff victory on Sunday.

Ok, so maybe the new contract wasn’t just for Sunday’s victory.  Zach Randolph has been an all-star caliber player for Memphis these past two years.  In fact, it’s inexcusable that both Randolph and LaMarcus Aldridge were passed over in favor of Kevin Love this year. Randolph and  Marc Gasol to form one of the more skilled 4-5 duos in the league.  Now, does this mean I would give him 71million over four years?

Well not exactly.  On the one hand, having already paid Mike Conley and Rudy Gay, and given that he’s undeniably a legitimate 20-10 player, Randolph deserves to get paid like the upper echelon players in the league, especially if you want to keep him happy.  After all, Randolph has as many playoff victories as Joe Johnson in the last two years and Johnson gets paid 30% more.

But here’s the rub, is it really wise for a small market team to max-out a ten year veteran when they’ve already committed so much money to other players, and another one of their key players, Gasol, has yet to cash in on his big payday.  It’s not.  And this is why we might have a lockout.  Too many executives pay their players like point guards treat their teammates–they feed the guy with the hot hand.  By proving that he was capable of stepping up and leading this team to the playoffs even after Gay went down Randolph had one of the hottest hands in the league.

This is a great short-term strategy (and I use that word loosely) for the Grizzlies, but one that’s infinitely dubious in the long term.

 

 

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NBA Western Conference Playoff Predictions

The western conference is in many ways the antithesis of the eastern conference. While the east is loaded with high wattage superstars consolidated on four teams, the west has a deep roster of quality teams. Guys like Zach Randolph, David West and LaMarcus Aldridge are not going to have any national ad campaigns built around them anytime soon, but they help you win games. And as you’ll see in my predictions, Randolph’s Grizzlies are gonna win a lot of games. Now I know that there will be plenty to take issue with in these predictions, but at the end of the day, I just think that the field in the west is a lot more wide open than people are really saying. Plus, if the Lakers are guaranteed to win this conference, why not design as quirky a path as possible to this inevitable conclusion.

Round One
Spurs vs. Grizzlies

Rest is good, and Popovich is a great coach, but at some point players have to play and it remains to be seen whether the Spurs can still play–at least in the playoffs.  Memphis’ Battier, Gasol and Randolph frontline is designed to give a team like the Spurs fits.  In some ways, they even remind of the old Spurs teams with Battier playing Bruce Bowen’s old role to  a tee.  On the other hand Memphis has nothing to lose, which is why they’re my pick to win. Prediction: Grizzlies in Six.

Lakers vs. Hornets

This isn’t the same Hornets team that took the Lakers to the brink a few years back.  Prediction: Lakers in 4.

Mavericks vs. Blazers

San Antonio established the blueprint for ousting the Mavericks years ago and that gameplan hasn’t changed.  Put a smaller defender on Dirk and make him work for his shots.  You can now place Gerald Wallace in the long line of Dirk agitators that includes Bruce Bowen and Stephen Jackson. I’ll also take a moment to predict that the announcers will remind viewers a million times that LaMarcus Aldridge was snubbed from this year’s all-star team.  Prediction: Blazers in Six

Thunder vs. Nuggets

Most teams have at least one playoff hiccup before they can make the leap.  Denver could very well be the team that makes the Thunder take that step back before they take another one forward.  Here’s why I think Denver can upset OKC, they’re the best team to borrow the blueprint for stopping Dirk and apply it to the Kevin Durant.  Afflalo, Chandler and Gallinari are well suited for pestering Durant into a few bad games.  Also, I can’t see Kenyon Martin backing down to Kendrick Perkins anytime soon.  I wouldn’t be surprised if those two got into a fight and both ended up being suspended for a game.  An absent Perkins in game 7 swings this series in Denver’s favor and I predict Denver over Okc

Round Two
Grizzlies vs. Nuggets

This is the WTH series.  Prediction: Memphis in 6.

Lakers vs. Blazers

Paging Greg Oden.  Greg Oden we need you.  Greg where are you!!!  Seriously imagine if Greg Oden were healthy. An Oden-Bynum playoff matchup would be great.  It would allow for another great head to head battle: Aldridge – Gasol. But without Oden, the Blaers are another run of the mill team loaded with wing players. There’s just a better version of the Rockets. Prediction: Lakers in 5.

Conference Finals

Lakers vs. Grizzlies

Kobe Bryant and Tony Allen will get into a scuffle. Lionel Hollins’ agent is going to break his neck to work out a contract extension.  Zach Randolph will slap his agent for not getting his extension done by now.  Lamar Odom will eat a lot of skittles.  Phil Jackson will fall asleep on the sidelines.  Prediction: Lakers in 4.