After a knee injury sidelined him last season. Fans around Memphis had legitimate reasons to doubt if Zach Randolph’s days of beautiful post moves and brilliant rebounding were behind him. Randolph roared back strong as ever. He put himself near the top of the league rebounding leader board from the word go and pushed himself to his second all-star selection. After a great first half, Randolph struggled throughout the second half of the regular season, but just as he roared back from a torn ACL he roared back to being Z-Bo in the first two rounds of the playoffs leading the Grizzlies in both scoring and rebounding.
Randolph averaged 15.4 points and 11.2 rebounds in 34 minutes per game this season while also leading the NBA in offensive rebounds.. He shot 46 percent from the field down from his career average. At age 31, Randolph showed signs of decline, especially on the defensive end where he posted a career best defensive rating but that is a function of great team defense by Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Tony Allen. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, Randolph's rating took a significant hit during the playoffs, where point guards like Chris Paul and Tony Parker tried to put Randolph in the pick and roll each time down the court. Next season, Randolph will continue to be liability on the defensive end, and the Grizzlies' schemes must take that into account next season.
That's not the only bad news for the Grizzlies concerning Randolph. They owe him 17.5 million next year and 16.5 million in 2015. A trade could be the right move, but management has already made some decisions that go against the wants of the local fan base. A Randolph trade would be sure to anger local fans, who hold Randolph as almost a folk hero.
Randolph is one of four starters locked up for next season. Most likely, he will put up similar numbers to this year. He could easily get back to being a 20 and 10 guy, but the Grizzlies’ lack of shooters leaves him with little space to operate with in the low post. Luckily, his old-man game should hold up for a while despite his aging. Plus, many of points and boards come by simply outworking the opponent for position on the offensive glass.
Randolph was the lone all-star on the team, but Gasol probably deserved it more. Randolph played terribly in the Western Conference Finals, but he played awesome in the first two rounds. It’s pretty unlikely he will play up to his big contract. However, the front office will likely keep him around. First, other teams won’t want his money. Second, he and the city of Memphis have formed a bond. He went on the record several times throughout the season to say that Memphis is his home, and he wants to retire there. He says he would live there even if he got traded. Randolph is Memphis. He’s the hardworking misfit who has always been underrated and underappreciated. Not to mention, he is arguably the most-loved Grizzly of all time. Grizzlies fans have to hope he can consistently bring the level of play he brought in the 2011 playoffs and the first two round of this years postseason.
Season Grade: B
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