After three solid weeks of laziness, I’m finally going to continue my “(Grizzlies Player) Vs. The World” series, this time, focusing on power forward Zach Randolph. I was happy to see such a positive response to first piece, and that gave me the strength to go ahead with more of these despite how long it takes to write them.
Anyway, Z-Bo is going to be the most difficult case of this series, due to his injury last year. 2010-11 Z-Bo would crush just about every power forward in the league (especially since Love hadn’t quite made the leap yet), but last year Z-Bo took a huge hit, missing the majority of the season, and struggling to get back in shape for the second half. As a result of this divide between the last two incarnations of Randolph, there will be more inconclusives than there were last time. Still, I’m pretty sure we can come to a few conclusions about the Grizzlies’ starting power forward when this is all through.
San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan/Boris Diaw
Our first entry, and already it’s a tricky one. Duncan’s accepted position is the 4, and he may go down as the greatest power forward of all-time. Lately, however, he’s been playing center more and more, with Boris Diaw (an excellent acquisition) playing the 4. As good as Diaw is, I’d rather have Z-Bo, but I still wouldn’t take him over a legend like Duncan, no matter how old he’s getting.
The Verdict: Better than Diaw, not quite as good as Duncan. Although if he returns to form, that could change.
Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk struggled in the first half of the 2011-12 season, but came on strong towards the end. It’s easy to peg him as being past his prime, but it’s important to remember that Dirk relies on skill more than athleticism, boasting one of the best jump shots in the league. he can likely produce at a high level even after some of his athletic ability deteriorates.
The Verdict: Even with Dirk’s age, he’s still one of the best. For now, I’d give him the edge over Z-Bo.
Houston Rockets: Luis Scola
The Rockets are in a lot of rumors lately, so we’ll see how long this one is even accurate for. Scola is a quality scorer who is capable of putting up points in bunches. Unfortunately, he’s a terrible rebounder, which is a major hindrance to his value. The addition of rebounding beast Marcus Camby helped to take away from that issue, but in a different situation, it could be a huge problem.
The Verdict: No rebounding, no thanks.
New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis/Carl Landry/Jason Smith
Man, this is a confusing one. I’m guessing Landry will be out of town soon. Davis could potentially play the 4 or the 5, and thrive in either role. I could see a Smith/Davis front court doing well. Davis seems like he will thrive in any position because he’s just that good, but he may struggle in his rookie year, especially on a team that had so many problems last season.
The Verdict: If Davis lives up to the hype, he’ll have a better career than Z-Bo. For the time being, however, I’d rather make a playoff run with #50.
Los Angeles Lakers: Pau Gasol
Hey, we knew this one was coming. Let’s just get it out of the way quickly. Pau is one of the top power forwards in the game, and his skills have not deteriorated much lately. His incredible finesse makes him one of the best power forwards in the league, and an amazing scorer.
The Verdict: yeah…I’d take him over Z-Bo. Man, it hurts to say that. On the plus side, Z-Bo was better in 2010-11. Maybe he will be next year, too.
Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin
As much as he got on my nerves in the Grizzlies-Clippers series, Griffin’s insane athleticism cannot be denied. He’s put up a 20-10 for two straight seasons and he has all the potential in the world to do even more in the future. With that said, his lack of actual skill is a problem. His athleticism can’t always do all the work.
The Verdict: Blake’s the better guy to build a dynasty around, but if I wanted to a win a title next year, I’d take Z-Bo, because he’s a better leader.
Golden State Warriors: David Lee
An extremely talented offensive player who puts up great numbers, but can’t play defense. in other words: a quintessential Golden State Warrior! On a team like Memphis, which has so many great defenders, Lee’s lack of D wouldn’t be a problem. On the Warriors, he’s one of many reasons why they give up so many points per game.
The Verdict: Is it too cliche too call him Avid? Yeah, I’m going with Z-Bo here.
Phoenix Suns: Channing Frye
A great 3-point shooter, and in general, one of the more underrated power forwards in the league. He’s not an elite player, but if you put him in the right situation, he could contribute significantly to a title contender. Imagine if he was part of say, Oklahoma City’s bench. That would be scary.
The Verdict: Sneaky good, but not Z-Bo good.
Sacramento Kings: Demarcus Cousins/Thomas Robinson
Another situation where we aren’t sure who’s playing wear, and it all depends on how the rookie fits into the system. Everyone knows about Cousins’ character issues, but the dude is ridiculously talented, and if he gets his act together, he can be a superstar. As for Robinson, he’s a physical specimen rivaled only by Dwight Howard, and he can also develop into a premiere player. Basically, the Kings might be three years away from the best front court in the league.
The Verdict: I’d take Z-Bo over either one right now, but that could certainly change in the next few years.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Serge Ibaka
He blocks ya! Unfortunately, he doesn’t score a great deal, although he certainly has the talent to improve in that area. On a team like the Thunder, with three elite scorers, Ibaka’s lack of finesse in the post isn’t a big deal. But if the Thunder let him go in favor of Harden, he may struggle on a new team.
The Verdict: A very valuable player, but no as complete as Z-Bo.
Denver Nuggets: Kenneth Faried
How do you not love the Manimal?! He’s a quality defender, with riduclous athleticism who creates killer highlights, and gives his team tons of energy. His rookie campaign was just about everything the Nuggets could hope for. If he doesn’t improve, he’s still a very good power forward. If he does, everyone else better look out!
The Verdict: About even with Z-Bo now, with all the opportunity to become better.
Portland Trailblazers: Lamarcus Aldridge
In the past two seasons, Aldridge has broken out in a huge way, and become a Top 5 power forward. He’s not an amazing rebounder, but his ability to score in the post is unbelievable. If the Blazers surround him with a better supporting cast, he could be leading a title run to soon.
The Verdict: Passed Z-Bo last season. Let’s see what happens when they’re both at 100 percent.
Utah Jazz: Paul Millsap
Another player who made a big leap last year. Millsap was a borderline all-star in 2011-12, and played in immeasurable role in guiding the Jazz to playoff berth. Along with Al Jefferson, Millsap is part of one of the best offensive frontcourts in the NBA. If he can match last year’s production, Paul Millsap will be a household name pretty soon.
The verdict: About even. We won’t know until Z-Bo is healthy for a full year.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love
The best in the league right now, and it’s not close. Love was amazing last year, and it won’t be long before he leads the Wolves on a few playoff runs. A player who can score and rebound at such an elite level is extremely hard to find. Maybe the second most complete player in the league, after Lebron James.
The Verdict: Don’t worry Z-Bo. No shame in losing to the best.
Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett
I’m going with KG here, even though he played center most of the year, because this situation is too confusing. Does Brandon Bass stay? Does Jared Sullinger have a shot at starting right away? Will KG play the 4 or the 5 next year? Who knows. What we do know is that KG is still an elite player, regardless of where you put him.
The Verdict: I’d give a slight edge to KG based on his playoff performance. But Bass, Sullinger, and whoever else they might throw out there are nowhere near Z-Bo’s level.
New York Knicks: Amar’e Stoudemire
Man, did this guy take a hit last year. Much like Z-Bo, he struggled with injury. The thing is, Amar’e was healthy for a lot more of the season, and he still never got it together. Maybe we blame it on poor lockout conditioning, or maybe those knees are just shot.
The Verdict: They’re in similar spots, but for heart and soul, I’d prefer Z-Bo.
Philadelphia 76ers: Elton Brand
There’s no easy way to say this: Brand looked old last year. Sure, he was still efficient, but his scoring when way down, and he’s just not the explosive player he once was. he can still be useful on the right team, but it’s abundantly clear that brand is well past his prime.
The Verdict: Z-Bo in a fairly easy decision.
Toronto Raptors: Amir Johnson
Meh. This guy’s been in the league for seven years now, and there’s nothing particularly special about him. Admittedly, he plays solid defense, but he’s not a scorer, and on a mediocre team like the Raptors, he can only help so much. Definitely a guy who wishes he could trade places with Serge Ibaka.
The verdict: Clearly inferior to Z-Bo.
Brooklyn Nets: Kris Humphries
If only we could forget Kim Kardashian, and just focus on what an underrated player Humphries is. An elite rebounder who is slowly but surely becoming a better scorer, Humphries is a huge asset. If the Nets want to make a legitimate run, resigning Humphries would be a wise choice.
The Verdict: I’m calling this a dead heat. Next year will determine it.
Chicago Bulls: Carlos Boozer
An alleged superstar who’s been decidedly underwhelming in two seasons with the Bulls. Boozer is still effective, but he’s looks like he’s past his prime. If the Bulls want to remain competitive without Rose, Boozer will have to play like he did in Utah. Based on his recent play, that may be a tall order.
The Verdict: Even when Z-Bo was injured and out of shape, he produced about on the same level as Boozer. He wins this one.
Indiana Pacers: David West
A bit underwhelming initially, but pretty good as the season went on. The Pacers are a strong team, but they need a definitive leader. If West can take on that role next year, they may be able to make a title run. One of the best post scorers in the league, and he can solidify any team’s starting lineup.
The Verdict: I’ll give Z-Bo a slight edge due to his rebounding abilities. That’s West’s key weakness.
Milwaukee Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova
Certainly responsible for some memorable stat lines last year, Ilyasova is a very efficient player, who quietly had a breakout season. He’s a great shooter and a great rebounder, but he’s not as consistent as he could be. If he can play at his highest level, we’re looking at a perennial all-star. Even if he can’t, he’s still pretty good.
The Verdict: Z-Bo wins due to the inconsistency, but if Ilyasova evolves again, look out…
Detroit Pistons: Greg Monroe
I’m guessing Andre Drummond will play the 5, moving Monroe to his natural position. Monroe has essentially been the only source of hope in the last two years, and if he gets some help, he could be the leader of a Pistons revival. Still, his current supporting cast is pretty uninspiring, so expect him to be carrying the team himself for awhile, unless Drummond reaches his maximum potential, or Brandon Knight makes a huge leap.
The Verdict: I’d slightly prefer Z-Bo, but Monroe is on the rise.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Antawn Jamison
Old and getting older, Jamison is still capable of being a solid contributor, but he clearly doesn’t ave much time left. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tristan Thompson starting taking more minutes at the power forward spot next season, as Jamison moves closer and closer to retirement.
The Verdict: Inferior to Z-Bo. Same for Thompson.
Miami Heat: Chris Bosh
The littlest of the Big Three, but still pretty good. Bosh has looked a bit weaker since joining Miami, but that may be because he was an alpha dog for 6 years in Toronto, and still isn’t quite used to being a third option. He’d be the best player on a lot of (bad) teams, and the second best player on a lot of (pretty good) teams.
The Verdict: Z-Bo is more aggressive and a better leader, but I’ll wait to see how he plays next year before deciding this one.
Orlando Magic: Ryan Anderson
An astonishingly efficient player, just as long as Dwight Howard is around. The first round series with the Pacers exposed Anderson as not being able to score anywhere near as much without a dominating presence like Howard to distract opponents. Still, a ridiculous three point shooter,who can be very valuable in the right situation.
The Verdict: Not a leader like Z-Bo. But a great follower.
Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith
An extremely electrifying player, and he finally matched that statistically last year. Smith would probably be better of on another team. His ideal situation is to be the second best player on a title contender. Hopefully, he gets traded soon, but being on the always-good-but-never-great Hawks is like being trapped in NBA purgatory.
The Verdict: I’ll go with Z-Bo for his leadership qualities, but if Smith keeps having seasons like last year, I may change my mind.
Washington Wizards: Kevin Seraphin/
Rashard Lewis is finally gone, and I think there’s a price on Andray Blatche’s head at this point, so let’s go with the talented Frenchman. Seraphin emerged as a better player than most expected him to be, and is a key piece of an improving Wizards team. The hype will be on the backcourt of Wall and Beal, but Seraphin could play a major part in getting the Wizards to the playoffs.
The Verdict: Certainly not as good as Z-Bo, but he could take another big leap.
Charlotte Bobcats: Bismack Biyombo
It’s all about the potential with this guy. He struggled on offense and defense last year, but he was a good shot blocker, and he’s far too young to make any judgements about just yet.
The Verdict: Clearly not as good as Z-Bo, but he’s an empty canvas, so who knows how he’ll end up.
So, there you go. In spite of last season’s injury, Zach Randolph is still one of the league’s better power forwards. He’s a great scorer, and he’s capable of taking over games. If he gets his old form back, he maybe able to get back into the top 5, and maybe even make another all-NBA team. We can only hope.