Age: 29 (turning 30 tomorrow)
Contract: Signed 4 year/71 million dollar extension through 2014-2015 season
Before this season, Zach Randolph’s career seemed borderline dried up if looked at from an unbiased perspective. There were areas in which Randolph did well, and areas in which he suffered. Some of the labels surrounding Randolph (unfairly?) were a head case, a chemistry killer, and someone who brings it everyday.. on and off the court. Randolph had been through a roller-coaster ride from being traded from the Blazers to the Knicks, from the Knicks to the Clippers, and then finally finding himself in Memphis. Keep in mind, all of this happened in roughly 2 years, and that’s a lot to go through for any player. In the past, Randolph had been considered a poor low-post passer, a ballhog, and at times a chucker. After arriving in Memphis, possibly benefitting from playing in a smaller market than say New York or LA, Randolph began to find success and was later selected to his first All-Star team in 2010 despite falling just short of the postseason. This began Randolph’s ascent to finally realizing his potential and establishing himself as an upper-echelon power forward in this leage, whether people where ready to declare him so or not.
The 2010-2011 was one to remember for many: the Grizzlies’ coaching staff and all the men upstairs that played a huge role in putting the team together, each and every member of the sqaud, and last but not least Grizzlies nation. The playoff run that saw our Memphis Grizzlies go all the way to Game 7 in the Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder was heavily driven by….. you guessed it, Zach Randolph. One cannot say enough about the postseason ZBo had, and that isn’t even mentioning his regular season in which he averaged 20.1 ppg and 12.2 rpg, marking the 6th time in his career that Randolph has averaged a double-double. In addition to this, Randolph shot marginally above 50% from the field, the first time he accomplished that feat in his career. Randolph, in my opinion, was robbed a spot on the All-Star squad. However, the best part of Randolph’s season was that time and time again when the situation rose and stakes heightened, Randolph elevated his level of play. Rudy Gay’s season ending injury in February left Randolph as the undisputed “go-to guy” on the team. During the playoff run, Randolph delivered from the role when called upon. Who could forget his three-pointer in Game 3 against San Antionio to ice the game. Or the soft hands he displayed seemingly getting every roll if he got the ball onto the room. Or the stepback after stepback he hit to send the Spurs home in Game 6 with the FedEx Forum on their feet. Being as agile as Randolph as well as a tenacity on the boards combined with the heart of winner served well for Randolph and the Grizzlies in a season that will not be forgotten in the forseeable future.
Before we make any previews the main hope is that labor disputes resolve so that we can actually have a season, but I expect no less from Randolph than we saw this past season. He is now the leader of this team and one of the true veteran presences in the locker room. He has really grown up and embraced his current role. As we keep our fingers crossed that there is a 2011-2012 season, Randolph will look to make more people around the league raise their eyebrows.
Long Term Plans:
During the postseason, Zach signed a 4 year/71 million dollar deal that includes 66 million dollars in guaranteed money. I think it’s safe to say the he’ll be in Memphis for a long time to come and that he can help some of the younger guys on the roster learn a thing or two from him. ZBo has acted almost as a big brother in the locker room to Marc Gasol, and Randolph’s ability around the basket is definitely something Gasol can learn from. Should Gasol improve his game around the basket those two big men could become a force to be reckoned with down low. It’s tough to say how long Randolph will be able to play at the level he did during the postseason, but I predict that because of his style of play Zach Randolph will continue to play at a high level in Memphis for the duration of his newly-inked contract and hopefully longer.