Zach Randolph entered the NBA at 19, drafted by the Portland Trailblazers, who at that time was the power forward factory. They had Rasheed Wallace, in his prime, as well as Dale Davis, who was a true old school enforcer type power forward. Behind them was two teenagers, Zach and Jermaine ONeal before he got a chance to start and find stardom with the Indiana Pacers.
After the Blazers began to dismantle their team due to character issues, Zach finally got a chance to play more and soon became a beast in the paint. At least on the offensive end. Soon he became a legitimate power forward. A twenty and ten player. Not blessed with the best athletic talent, but with a great offensive game and great rebounding skills. One thing was missing....the winning
After a few off the court problems including 1. sucker punching his then teammate Ruben Patterson. 2. A marijuana charge. 3. Skipping out a strip club tab while on bereavement leave. Not too smart. He eventually was shipped out when Portland traded talent for character. Obviously the right decision for Portland.
He ended up in New York, where he kept his nose clean. Unfortunately for him, he came to a franchise that was a total mess from top to bottom. Isiah, Stephon, and boos galore from the fans.
Zach got his numbers with the Knicks. I used to say he would get so many offensive rebounds because he wanted to shoot again. And when he didn't get his touches on the offensive, he pouted on the defensive end. However, people are willing to deal with problems like those instead of the off the court nonsense from his past.
In comes Donnie Walsh. Zach is one of the first to go. Where to, the Clippers, which definitely wasn't an improvement. Next thing you know, he's off to Memphis, another franchise that was going nowhere this season. At least thats what most of us thought.
I thought to myself why would the bring in guys like Allen Iverson and Zach who have had chemistry issues in the past. And combine them with a young core that seemed to be going in the right direction. Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, and O.J. Mayo would be led by Zach and A.I. Oh boy!
When Iverson left, the team started off 1-8. Then once they started rolling, Zach took off. Putting up the best numbers in his career, for once not only in the flow of the offense, but more importantly, on a winning team. Every player on that team improves from his presence.
Ironically, his contract is up soon, and if he could continue to stay out of trouble, and show that he's grown up, he could earn himself a hefty contract. Except this time, he'll deserve it. He's only 30. His past coaches for the most part dont have too many negative things to say about him. His off court stuff and on court selfishness is why he was bounced around.
The next team that gets him is going to want to keep him. Zach is seasoned veteran who endured losing, found recognition (of importance), and his first All Star appearance, by winning. Lets hope he realizes whats important and takes his game to the next level. Not just by individual statistics.