Zach Randolph: Evaluating the Memphis Grizzlies Big Man's First 7 Games Back

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIMarch 28, 2012

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 13:  Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies waits for the ball to be inbounded by the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 13, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Zach Randolph is easing his way back into the Memphis Grizzlies rotation. Lionel Hollins has been patient with Randolph, not giving him too many minutes.

Anyone who expected the Grizzlies star to be back in the groove after a few games may be disappointed. Those who thought he’d hit the ground running, regaining his role in the lineup are surely more disappointed.

Randolph hasn’t played a ton of minutes in his time since returning to the Grizzlies rotation. He averaged 27.7 minutes per game in his first seven games since returning from injury. Only in the blowout loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday did Randolph play 30 minutes.

Grizzlies fans would have been right to question Hollins for playing Randolph 38 minutes in a noncompetitive game, his fifth since missing 37 games with a partially torn MCL.

Hollins was much smarter in utilizing Randolph on Tuesday’s 93-86 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He only played Randolph 23 minutes, playing him in important moments, such as when he installed Randolph in the third quarter with the Grizzlies trailing by five and struggling to close the gap.

Soon thereafter, the Grizzlies went on their decisive run. Randolph scored only two points during that run, but his presence alone was valuable in helping the Grizzlies rally.

Randolph put up eight points and five rebounds against the T’Wolves, which shows that he’s doing alright, but still acclimating to game speed after missing three months.

His shooting figures in his seven games since returning have been pedestrian. He’s shooting 48.1 percent from the field, which is a bit less than the last two seasons in Memphis.

He’s averaging 13.6 points per game since returning to play, which isn’t too bad, considering that he’s only playing 27.7 minutes per game.

In his return against the Toronto Raptors, Randolph posted a mean 25 points in 25 minutes. Since then, he hasn’t scored 15 in a game.

Since returning, Randolph has put up satisfactory rebounding figures. He’s averaging eight rebounds per game in the recent stretch, which is solid for his minute load. His offensive rebounding is as good as ever, as he's pulled down 3.4 per game on the offensive glass in the last seven games.

Thus far, Randolph has done alright in his return from injury. His dominance on the offensive boards is the same as always. He can score and make an impact on offense, although he’s had a couple of games where he didn’t hit shots like he should. If I had to grade his output in coming back, I’d give him a “B-.”

Randolph will get better as he gets more comfortable. He’ll have to get up to speed soon, since the Grizzlies will need big games from him in crucial upcoming road matches against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.