Does anyone out there know how good Anthony Randolph is? This is not a rhetorical question; I really want to know. #NBARank says he’s the league’s 220th best player, a solid 4.18 out of 10. But Randolph somehow both much more magnificent and more underwhelming than that. Is he the dude who dropped 31 points on the Mavs (on only 14 shots) and who laced the Pistons with a steady stream of melted-butter turnarounds, pivots and spinning jump-hooks? Is he the lost soul with the glazed 12-hours-of-Playstation eyes who narcotically floats through entire quarters, only to come fiercely alive with five minutes left of a 20-point loss? Is he the airborne, rim-attacker that all of his compelling athletic gifts suggest he should be? Or is he the languid jump-shooter, who wanders the perimeter and happily obliges whenever teams beg him to shoot from outside?
Here’s what I do know. I know that after he joined the Wolves late last season, he was second on the team in usage rate, using a rather astonishing 27.1% of the Wolves’ possessions when he was on the floor. That’s some serious volume. (To put this in further perspective, that number would have put him at 10th in the league had he played the entire season). Now a lot of that is due both to the Wolves’ rash of injuries towards the end of the year and to Randolph’s extreme garbage time voyages. But still: his true shooting rate was a below-average 53.7%; his turnover rate was a very high 14.6%; he showed an alarming affinity for grabbing a rebound, wildly, triumphantly dribbling the length of the floor and booting the ball out of bounds. Something is deeply out of balance here. And his defensive shortcomings at center, where he’s likely to spend the majority of his minutes this year, just about cancel out the advantage his quickness gives him at the offensive end.
It’s hard to tell what will become of this strange dude. But here’s my best guess: with his blank, far-away demeanor, Anthony Randolph falls into that vast category of NBA player with overwhelming talent but a temperament that prevents that talent from ever fully flowering. This is a pretty magical group. They’ve blessed us with some of our most meaningful crossovers; they’ve given Summer League performances of real transcendence; they’ve blown out birthday candles resting on the rim. There’s really no shame in calling yourself a member.