Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 at 1:00 pm  |  62 responses

Top 50: Zach Randolph, no. 36

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Maurice Bobb / @reesereport

You almost need to be a history buff to find Zach Randolph’s name on SLAMonline’s Top 50 Players list. Give up? It was September 15, 2006. He came in at No. 44 and then Debo’d his way to 23.6 ppg and 10.1 rpg that next year for the Blazers. Who says SLAMonline doesn’t know how to preZach Randolphdict a player’s impact?

But as Verbal Kint would say, “And like that, poof. He’s gone.”

Z-Bo was like Keyser Soze in ’08 and ’09—nowhere to be found in our rankings. Ah, but oh what a difference a change of scenery can make. Traded to the Memphis Grizzlies prior to last season, the crafty southpaw from Marion, IN experienced a rebirth, drop-steppin’, jab-steppin’ and pump faking his way to a beasty stat line of 20.8 points and a career-high 11.7 rebounds per contest, his first ever All-Star nod and a cozy No. 36 spot in our definitive rankings.

Sure, Randolph gets into trouble off the court as often as DMX, but on the court, the 6-9, 255-pound forward flat out produces. Check his vitae: Won the ’03-04 NBA Most Improved Player Award after bumping up his scoring and rebounding averages from 8.4 and 4.5 to 20.1 and 10.5, respectively; averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in three of his eight seasons in the League; ranks eighth among all NBA players in double-doubles since the start of his breakout ‘03-04 season with 191; has three career 40-point games and two where he went off for 20 points and 20 rebounds.

Most bball aficionados forget this, but Randolph had microfracture surgery in the summer of ’05 and didn’t miss a beat. He’s been destroying cats down low with little or no athletic ability. Why? Zach. Randolph. Is. A. Workhorse.

Despite operating in real estate clogged with taller and more athletically gifted big men, Randolph is the “ground bound mound of rebound,” somehow coming up with 4.1 offensive rebounds per without ever leaving his feet. Then there’s his vast arsenal of post moves that keep defenders guessing.

Z-Bo is also very deceptive in the way he pads the stat sheet. Even if you’re watching him play, you end up surprised by how many points and boards he has when the final buzzer sounds. Prior to landing in the host city of The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the largest pork barbecue cooking contest in the world, Randolph detractors banked on the Michigan State standout bringing a “black hole” mentality to the team’s offensive scheme.

But then a funny thing happened. The Grizz started ballin’. For real. Paired with the promising Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, Z-Bo found purchase in Lionel Hollins’ system and gave his squad the jolt in the arm it needed to win 16 more games than the previous year.

With the steady improvement of all parts involved and the addition of sharpshooter Xavier Henry, Z-Bo & Co. will definitely wreck enough havoc to challenge for a playoff berth next summer. And though there is a dark legal cloud circling above Randolph’s noggin (to date, he has not yet been charged with any crime after he was accused of being a “major marijuana supplier”), he reportedly will hit training camp 30 pounds lighter. If that’s true, the man whose feet stick to the hardwood like chewing gum may actually start going aerial on the opposing D and they ain’t ready for that.

Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 11 10
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 10 9
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 9 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12
David West Hornets PF 41 31 12 8
Monta Ellis Warriors SG 40 NR 8 NR
Andrew Bogut Bucks C 39 NR 4 NR
Yao Ming Rockets C 38 NR 3 NR
Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 37 NR 11 NR
Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 36 NR 11 NR

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Legal woes and a contract year….
    Hmmm, can’t tell which one will win.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    good write up maurice

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    Z-Bo is a good dude. Always in trouble, but he’s a great guy. Always nice and personable. Not that that has anything to do with basketball, but on that tip, dude can flat out ball. He can’t jump over a phone book either, but he don’t need to.

  • http://slamonline.com Maurice Bobb

    @nbk Thanks!

  • JTaylor21

    One of the best post scorer in the game and the BEST offensive rebounder also. It just goes to show that a guy with limited athleticism like ZBo can be better around the basket than a guy like DHow with unlimited athletic ability. ZBo can get 20/10 in his sleep.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    Possibly the most underrated of this era, that can be blamed on spending most of his career on losing teams. He can score on anyone. Okur still owes him an allstar spot. We got zach randolph yall!!!

  • lowblow

    best pf in the League!!

  • http://www.shawnkemp.com Masr

    From that pic Zach looked like Chalie Boy….

  • omack

    beautiful rainbow jumpshots, too. was my MVP with the Knicks when I won the finals on EA’s NBA live.

  • zyth

    and yet… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh2fn01cngg
    i will always have a place in my heart for this

  • http://slamonline.com Kap


  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    LMAO!!!!! @ Zyth’s video.

  • The Lord of Nsam (formerly known as Fresh Prince)

    Another good stuff Maurice.

  • Martey

    Very underrated. Also although he does get in trouble, his altercations are inflated. He Was on his BEST behavior in New York, a perfect town to get in trouble in, and carried the Knicks many a nights on his back, when they paired him with Eddie Curry. He never complained, played hard. The dude is a double double monster. I put him higher, in the late 20s

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    good spot for Z-Bo, ahh that play in Toronto is legendary!!

  • The Lord of Nsam (formerly known as Fresh Prince)

    @Zyth, C.R.A.Z.Y!!! Whao!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Maurice Bobb

    @The Lord of Nsam Thanks!

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    @Marley, on offense top 20 but his defense is atroucious aside from the awsome rebounding

  • fizzrocket

    What the hell is this? Guy has one decent year and suddenly he’s #36 on your Top 50?


    naw dog for the person above me. Zach was ill on his other teams as well. but this was juss his best season by FAR!

  • http://slamonline.com Maurice Bobb

    @fizzrocket As mentioned in the write up, Z-Bo also had a ridiculous year in ’06-’07. Plus, he won NBA Most Improved Player, too. That’s just the issue with Randolph, he’s been doing this for years. He just doesn’t get the attention or shine that other players do…

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    If you think this was Zach first decent year, you haven’t been paying attention.
    His biggest flaws have been ball hogging, dogging it and not playing defense. He corrected two of the three last year and worked on the other.
    But, he has been a legit 20-10 guy for a while, to the point where KG once said Randolph was the toughest player in the league to guard.

  • onlyclipsfanonslam

    Oh how I miss him dearly. I went berzerk when I found out the clips traded him for a reacharound. Who says it’s a bad thing to have Zbo, Blake Griffin, Marcus Camby, and Chris Kaman on the same team. Dunleavy still haunts Clipper fans’ dreams every night with a dumb move like this.

  • MikeC.

    Z-Bo! Defender of women! Face-breaker of registered sex offenders! All-Star! Z-Bo!

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Allenp +1

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Co-sign nbk. One of the best write-ups so far.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jtrain73 Jono

    Would I sound stupid if I said I’m pretty sure the Grizzlies will make the playoffs this year? ZBo (minus 30 lbs) plus an improved Gayo combo will surely be enough for 8th in a much weaker western conference? 1Lakers 2Jazz 3Mavs 4Thunder 5Spurs 6Rockets 7Hornets 8Grizz???? My Thuggets are out this year w/o Melo :(

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Idk about saying your sure they are making it but they are definately in the conversation IMO. LA OKC HOU DAL SA UT PHO NOH is how I have the west rounding out

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Utah and Phoenix are actually flip floppy. Phoenix will absolutely feast on sub .500 teams while Utah will start very slow. Jerry Sloan’s offense and the new mixture of players and roles is gonna handicap them until like mid/late december. IMO

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    @nbk, Jono…you 2 be dreamin dudes, THERES NOT ONE TEAM ASIDE FROM LA BETTER THAN PORTLAND, yet you guys be sleepin on my Blazers, lol…50 WINS WITH JUWAN HOWARD AT CENTER, WITHOUT ROY, BATUM, ODEN, ETC FOR MUCH OF THE SEASON, lol…some fools round here!!

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    oh lol i knew i forgot someone

    revised list


  • Ghost

    Allenp +1…+1.

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    thats more like it nbk, Blazers are allways overlooked, no superstar even though Roy´s really good, small market, all that sh1t…feel the need to defend their honor…I think it´ll be a dog fight between PHX,NOH,MEM, even SacTown´s looking promissing, and Utah will struglle for the first few months for sure…more than half the starting 5 is new and Okur is out for some time

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Oh I just threw that list up, I really like the Blazers and their style is/will be successfull in the playoffs can’t believe I overlooked them. I however think UT is the team that can fall off the playoff picture for the same reasons i think will give them trouble. I agree with your ‘darkhorse’ teams though

  • bdub

    30 Ponds lighter…………..

  • http://www.twitter.com/jtrain73 Jono

    Nah its gonna bea dog fight for the last few spots, I’ve got the Hornets, Blazers, Griz and Suns contending for them. They’re all junk but the upstart Grizz and CP3′s team will sneak in. I’m surprised people think the Suns would do well. They’ve got like….1 old man? Whatever it is, you can’t argue against LA OKC HOU DAL SA UT as almost guaranteed playoff teams.

  • Shan

    How in the hell is Utah even comparable to a team like PHX?? Utah will be in the running for the number one seed out west, 3rd seed is the worst case scenario and Phoenix wont make the cut, Houston takes their place. The Jazz trades this year have seriously upped the defense. Last year we were a top ten defensive team and we have improved immensely. Deron williams and Earl Watson at the 1 and Ronnie Price at times are excellent defensive options for the point guard position, and all very different looks. Then we got Raja Bell at the two, a known vet defender in the league; throw in the rookie(s) Hayward and Jason Thompson, who we will have to let develop but with Raja showing themn the ropes the transition should be smooth sailing. CJ Miles and AK at the three; AK is one of the best weakside defenders and I have witnessed a near 100% better improvement in just one year from Miles, oh yeah he is 22 years old. Millsap/AK and Jefferson make up the 4 position. Millsap is one of the most underrated defenders/players in the game with him getting starter minutes this will no longer be a secret; besides all of those players, even Jefferson, are extreme upgrades over Boozer at the 4 position. The center position will be handled for the first part of the season by Jefferson/Elson and Fes. Two seven footers who both kinda suck but Jefferson again is a huge upgrade over Boozer, who played center at times for us. And astonishingly they won lots of regular season games with that lineup. Defense will characterize the Jazz this year, no lip service like what comes from other overrated teamo. We are on a mission tp meet and finally beat LA in the WCF and no silly team is getting in our way.

  • http://grizzvan.blogspot.com grizzedbyOJ

    ZBO so Memphis

  • http://slamonline.com Maurice Bobb

    You guys all make good points. One things for sure, we all can’t wait for NBA action to kick off again. There are so many storylines to watch: Arenas and John Wall, the Heat trilogy, Shaq in Boston, the Cavs aftermath, and on and on. I can’t freakin’ wait…

  • http://google c_cantrell

    everyone has always hated on the dude but no one can argue against the fact that he does produce and he is consistent

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    One of Utah’s two best players, Jefferson, is going to be learning one of the best but most complicated systems in the league.
    And they still don’t have a backup for Deron Williams. I don’t think you’re being realistic.

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    Jono youre a fool

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  • onlyclipsfanonslam

    @allenp talking out your arse, the flex offense is simple, that is why players can be plugged in and out for years without missing a beat.

  • Shan

    Allen P…we just signed Earl Watson, a ten year vet to back up DWill, i dont think you are informed.

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