Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 at 3:49 pm  |  72 responses

Top 50: Zach Randolph, no. 19

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Vincent Thomas / @vincecathomas

Outside of basketball junkies and the media, Zach was a fairly unknown commodity, unless you lived in Oregon. Unfortunately, for most of Zach’s career, he was a basketball pariah to the hoops junkies and scribes—a lazy, trouble-making cancer. Then the 2011 Playoffs happened, where he averaged 22 and 9 in a first round upset of the Spurs and then 23 and 12 in a seven-game semifinals against the Thunder, often abusing the imposing Perkins/Ibaka tandem that OKC hoped would tame the beast. This capped off his most complete and substantially productive season as a pro. Belated accolades followed.

Now, he’s routinely mentioned among the elite of the NBA’s elite and celebrated as a legitimate franchise player. Commentators and fans actually glowed about the dude this past spring. And, if that weren’t enough, he went from being cast as a criminal in Portland and a money-drinking disappointment during his brief stint in New York, to, as Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley described him, “a city hero.”

But, he’s still underappreciated.

There aren’t 18 players better than Zach Randolph. The one who really makes absolutely no sense is backseat-riding Kevin Love. KLove puts up meaningless stats for a meaningless team in a meaningless way. Zach changes games and game plans. Zach scares teams. Zach tells Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka that they can get the bozack as he wheels and deals on ‘em so nasty that their teammate, Kevin Durant, is left with the clear idea that Zach’s the best power forward in the League (KD’s words, not mine…well, my words, too).

Zach is one of maybe 10 NBA players who can go into Unstoppable Mode. He’s got more moves down low than any player in the game and the featheriest touch at the cup, to boot. Plus he can J you from 18 to 22 feet. Yeah, that’s unfair. He renders squads helpless. AND he’s getting those huge mitts on a slew balls that clang off the rim.

KLove? Please. KLove couldn’t wash Zach’s jock strap. In fact, while we’re at it, Chris Bosh and LaMarcus Aldridge can hop in the backseat, too. Zach’s more unstoppable and he’s not soft. Blake Griffin? That’s a joke, right? One day, sure. Right now, the young fella’s game is Similac and you know Zach’s is straight Remy. Check his head-to-heads with Love, Aldridge, Griffin and Bosh. They don’t want it with Zach. They know that. He knows that. Do you know that?

SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2011
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Luol Deng Bulls SF 8
49 Andrew Bogut Bucks C 7
48 Ray Allen Celtics SG 9
47 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
46 David West Hornets PF 15
45 Kevin Martin Rockets SG 8
44 Andrew Bynum Lakers C 5
43 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 11
42 Lamar Odom Lakers PF 14
41 Gerald Wallace Blazers SF 7
40 Brook Lopez Nets C 4
39 Joakim Noah Bulls C 3
38 Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 13
37 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 12
36 Eric Gordon Clippers SG 7
35 Tony Parker Spurs PG 10
34 Andre Iguodala 76ers SG 6
33 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 11
32 Al Horford Hawks C 2
31 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 9
30 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 10
29 Josh Smith Hawks PF 9
28 Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 5
27 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 8
26 Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 6
25 John Wall Wizards PG 7
24 Danny Granger Pacers SF 5
23 Monta Ellis Warriors SG 4
22 Joe Johnson Hawks SG 3
21 Paul Pierce Celtics SF 4
20 Steve Nash Suns PG 6
19 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 8

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’11-12 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Maurice Bobb, Shannon Booher, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Jon Jaques, Eldon Khorshidi, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Quinn Peterson, Dave Schnur, Abe Schwadron, Dan Shapiro, Irv Soonachan, Todd Spehr, Tzvi Twersky, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Ben York.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://Slamonline.coM nbk

    Oooo man, all these Chris Bosh fans are gonna flip.

  • Shem

    I didn’t have a major problem with this list up until now. No way is Kevin Love better then Zach Randolph. No way is Chris Bosh better then Zach Randolph. Lamarcus Aldridge is close but I’d still take Zach Randolph. I think the ranking is good, 15 highest. I’m not ready to name this guy one of the top players in the L as this is strictly based off one season. Let’s see if he can duplicate his successful season… hopefully sooner rather then later!

  • zach

    His best seasons are the ones surrounding contract years.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    I’m big on K-Love. I like LA. I don’t like Bosh, but recognize his talent. With that said. Z-Bo is better than all 3 next season imo.

  • http://dimemag.com Royal

    Z-Bo has been essentially a 20-10 player since 2004. He’s been a beast for a while…

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Ha, this might be my favorite write-up thus far.
    Either this or Aggrey Sam’s piece on Boozer.
    I agree though, Kevin Love over Z-Bo?
    Never that. Same with LA.
    Bosh you could make a case for.
    Griffin will be better than all of them, right now one on one he couldn’t dream about stopping Randolph though.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I don’t think CB’s better than ZBo. Sure, he’s a better defender, slightly better passer and a better mid-range shooter but ZBo’s the better rebounder, low-post scorer, commands a double-team and is a very-good mid-range shooter. Would Mia be that much better with ZBo instead of Bosh? No but ZBo’s the better overall player.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    yeah, Zach should be ranked higher.

  • http://www.michaelcho.com M Cho

    Hilarious write-up. Z-Bo proved himself during the last playoffs and went from a dope to a dope player. I can’t hate on him now — well, except when I watch that clip of him as a Knick dribbling the ball off his foot against the Raptors.

  • Ctkennedy

    As the MAN hes done more than EVERY powerforward left on the list expect Dirk Nowitzki…thats enuff to be top 15 at worst

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    I don’t like how the write up makes Bosh, Love, Griffin and LA a bunch of scrubs next to Z-Bo. That isn’t the case. He is slightly better than all 4. That’s it. Theres no jock strap holding, or stroking or whatever the f*ck dude was writing about the other PF’s. Griffin isn’t really “soft” imo. Doesn’t make sense to me. I do like the passion and overall a good read I just don’t agree that Zach is Superman compared to other PF’s like the writer does.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Yeah, Dirk is the only PF i’d take over Z-Bo.

  • http://www.Jcolemusic.com Showtime

    Yea i have zac top 3 pf… hes def better Amare, k-love, Gasol,..Now LA & blake that kinda a hard to swallow

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    I can’t decide how I feel about Pau these days… Honestly don’t know if I want him at 2 (where his skill set should have him) or if I want to put him behind Z-Bo and maybe Griffin also. Both those guys aren’t soft and won’t crumble during the big games.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    @LakeShow – “the writer”. No, The Commish!
    Also, 8 PFs better than Randolph?
    Who the hell are they? Cause I’d say there’s only two – Dirk and Pau.
    Maybe 3 cause for me it’s too close to call between him and Bosh.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    He’s better than Griffin right now. Griffin will be better in 2 – 3 years. LA is a close call though, I think I’d got with Z-Bo still though. No way Amare, and K-Love are better though…that’s just silly. Love is very overrated imo.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Forgot about Pau, I’d probably take Pau over Z-Bo too.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    ZBo is a better go-to guy. Bosh is a better player. Aldridge is better then Randolph on both ends, just isn’t the rebounder. Way way better defender not even close.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    I don’t know how much you can over rate K-Loves stats. If they are inflated and he isn’t good then why is he putting up numbers that no one has since Moses Malone and D-Rod. Remember that last year was K-Loves first year to get allot of mins. I see him improving as a player and improving the Wolves next year. I can’t say if Love is better then any PF that one would place in front of him, but to me he is as good a young prospect as any body right now. He is going to help a team win allot of games someday. It’s just not today with that Wolves team. The Clippers aren’t much better than the Wolves and Griffin didn’t quite put up as impressive of numbers as K-Love. Just observations though.

    Enig, What?

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Kevin Love ain’t built for the front seat.
    Kevin Love be tryna play wit the knobs on the stereo nahmeans.
    Kevin Love can’t adjust the heat controls.
    Kevin Love aint built for windshield views.
    Kevin Love in the back with the child locks.
    Kevin Love needs permission to crack the window open.
    Zach Randolph pushes back his seat and takes Kevin Love’s legroom nahmeans.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I’d take Blake Griffin over Zbo too. Not the ball stopper, much much much much much better passer. They are both terrible defensively. Griffin is even a better scorer. More points on a higher %, as a rookie. And I just doubt he hits that 2nd year wall.

  • http://www.thehoopscene.com lawlow

    bah. Z-bo should definitely be top 5 PFs.

    - dirk
    - pau
    - zbo
    - la
    - amare

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Look Minnesota played the highest pace in the league, and shot the 27th best %. And Meaning their opponents were also playing at a faster pace (more rebounds on both sides of the curt to go around). ANd if you watched Kevin Love at all, like even just for 1 quarter last season you could clearly see he was not interested in anything but rebounding. He didn’t help protect the basket on defense, he didn’t even care who he took his rebounds from. Check his 31 & 31 game against the Knicks, he probably stole 8-10 rebounds from Anthony Tolliver and Darko.

  • http://bedotwater.bandcamp.com BE.water

    LOL @ Enig! Been reading up on the ghostfase chronicles huh? lol

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Your right nbk. So maybe that’s all he will ever be is a offensive threat and a rebounding force. But isn’t that enough to get from your PF if you have an enforcer style Center. Even toss Tyson Chandler on the Wolves and they win allot more games I would think. K-Love does very valuable things on the court. He is flawed, but i’d take him as my starting PF any day. He is a really talented shooter and rebounder those two things usually aren’t shared with in the same person. Not saying he is better than any PF listed in the top 8, but if he learns to take charges and help on D allot more. Then I wouldn’t have a problem with him as a top 5 PF.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    BTW everyone should steal every stat wasted on Tolliver and Darko when possible. LOL

  • TruthHurts

    This dude makes Zbo sound like the best PF in the game.
    Which isnt true at all. Whats he ever done in his career?
    1x all star. That’s it.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    HAHA, I have no issues with Love. Just think his “record breaking season” has him overrated, slightly. He is more in the “would you rather have Kevin Love or Andrew Bogut (when healthy)” conversation. Not the, is he a top 5 PF conversation. I could be wrong though. (I don’t like calling someone top 5 at their position if they don’t help the team win, it just doesn’t sit well with me. And Love (through what probably is no fault of his own) hasn’t proven that yet, so until then, top 10 is a better debate imo)

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Damn, this write up went HARD. Gotta give Vince his props for this one.
    And, I totally understand why he wrote it.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Actually, JTaylor I think Miami would be a LOT better with ZBo in his current form. Can you imagine the havoc ZBo would cause if he got a the double team and then passed to a cutting LeBron or Wade like he did with Tony Allen and O.J?
    Plus he can hit the jumper and owns the boards? Nah, Bosh is very good, but what ZBo brings to the table is what Miami desperately needs. Nobody would be demanding that LeBron post up if ZBo was on the squad.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Fair enough. I’m not proclaiming anything about Love because f*ck if I know if he’ll be pretty good or great, but I like dudes who can rebound at an incredible rate and score you buckets from everywhere. I don’t like that they have him ahead of Z-Bo who has now proven that he can be the guy and take a team somewhere. His season shows him as being better than he actually is that is for sure.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Agree with Allen, Z-Bo makes the Heat allot more scary, but Bosh is probably better for their overall future. Z-Bo can’t have a ton of years left doing what he does I don’t think.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Allen, Zbo has never proven to be a willing passer, let alone a competent one idk if his post game would automatically make the Heat better. And Bosh is a way way better defender, especially for that defensive system. They’re offense would probably be improved because of Zbo’s effectiveness on the glass, but he would also take a lot away from their defense. How would he affect the pick and pop (spacing game) that LeBron and Wade thrive off of on offense would be my only real concern on that end.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    @BE.water – Ha ha no doubt!
    Only you (and I’m sure AllenP too) caught on to what I was doing, though.

  • ChipS

    The numbers are there and been there @TruthHurts, he just played on bad teams, he’s on a good team now puttin up the same numbers. If u want to bring all star games into it, people get snubbed (ask Melo about the year in Denver). All Zach Randolph has done in his career is destroy defenses (sometimes team chemistry, but that happens on bad teams, more than not bad teams that are suppose to be better than what they are). Zach Randolph is Top 5 at his position, no questions, ask San Antonio!


    chrisboah is gonna b def top 10! hes to sick and im from toronto :O the dude can ball dont hate !

  • Armando

    Next season:
    1. Dirk
    2. Griffin
    3. LA
    4. Amar’e
    5. Pau
    6. Zach
    7. (tie) Love/Bosh

    some use stats as an argument when it is convenient and then when someone (Love) puts up good stats, stats are meaningless… be consistent guys… Anyway, I still feel stats are overvalued, and anyway; one mustn’t forget that Bosh put up great (not as great as Love’s) stats on a bad team as well… now David Westesque stats on a good team… I’d still take Love over Bosh… I don’t necessarily think the Wolves would win more with Chandler than Love either. Chandler is a good player but he benefitted as much from playing with Dirk as Dirk benefitted from playing with him.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    AllenP, good points but MIA’s defense and ball-movement would struggle with ZBo. I understand that he brings much needed low-post scoring and rebounding but just imagine how bad MIA’s backline/pnr defense would be with ZBo taking over Bosh’s role. Bosh is not a great defender but he’s a good help-defender, an excellent pnr defender and covers a lot of ground for his size. All those attributes are vital for the kind of defense MIA plays.
    ZBo improves MIA a lot but at what cost to their defense?
    On second thought, forget what I just said. If Chicago is maintained it’s rank as the top defense team with Booooooooozer in the lineup, I’m pretty sure MIA can do the same.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    We use stats to argue details. Not to make outcomes. Love gets stats traditional stats, but he doesn’t win, or play defense. Arguing the stats between LeBron and Kobe (just an example) is quite a bit different then arguing the stats of two players on completely different rosters. Kevin Love is the best player on the worst team in the league. These other guys are the best players on playoff teams.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    @JTaylor – very true about Boozer, but the Bulls had solid defensive bigs Kurt Thomas, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah and Omer Asik (yes, he’s already solid defensively)that could all play either with or behind Boozer.
    Zach Randolph on the Heat would only have Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem. Maybe Ericka too, I guess.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    You know I caught it Enigmatic. Which is why I thought Vince’s shout out was funny.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Sorry, NBK that was me.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    no stress AP

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Yeah, I was about to say….
    Let me find out nbk’s some ol’ Big Ghost readin type o’ dude, nahmean?!

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    naw I don’t have no idea what that even is. I know basketball, lol that’s about it.

  • http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/wizards/a-quick-guide-to-the-issues-of-the-nba-lockout/2011/10/11/gIQAon1ZbL_story.html unf*ckwitable

    Nice write up and i agree, yall dont want it with Zach.


    What’s all this hate on Bosh? This post is about a p0thead named ZBO. remaining PF should be 7 LA 6 Love 5 Gasol 4 Bosh 3 Amar’e 2 Griffin 1 Dirk. And YES BG is number two right behind Dirk

  • DukeFromDeep

    Griffin is number two behind Dirk… and that’s cos Dirk has a ring. BG is already one of the best players in the NBA!….

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I don’t care how badly Gasol played in the playoffs, there’s no way he’s the fifth best PF in the L.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    And I love Blake Griffin, but dude needs to work on his defense.
    For a guy that can jump out of the gym and knows a thing or two about timing considering the amount of boards he gets, 45 blocks on the season is pathetic.
    Derrick Rose, who is 7 inches shorter and also not known for defense, had more blocks than that last year.


    guys the dude is a rook who put up staggering stats like 22.5p 12.1r 3.8a and a steal all while shooting 50% from the field and started all 82 games. What more do you want?

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Some defense would be nice? I’m not comparing BGriff to TD but TD was a great defender from day one, so there’s no excuse for BGriff with all his size/quickness/explosiveness to be such a terrible defender.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    MUBWAR – the kid is NICE.
    But what more do I want? Defense.
    It’s what’s gonna separate the good players from the GREAT ones.


    too much expectations for a rook. He can develop his D(not with the coach his has now but it’ll come)

  • http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/wizards/a-quick-guide-to-the-issues-of-the-nba-lockout/2011/10/11/gIQAon1ZbL_story.html unf*ckwitable

    Its too much expectations for the number 2 PF in the game to play D? come on now.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Well…not when everyone proclaimed his rook season to be the best ever.
    A wise man once said; “to whom much is given, much is expected”.

  • Rainman

    granted, KD called Zach the Best in the L BEFORE plying against and being defeated by Dirk Nowitzki.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    yeah in your top pf lists wayyyyyy too many people have bosh after amare. I could see him(bosh) being after zbo pau, and LA tho.

  • http://sajkflf.com Jukai

    I’m sure it is because of Z-Bo’s past which I should get over, but I think he’s fairly placed and I’d take every PF over him. He found a great, GREAT spot in Memphis…
    Is he better than K. Love? Probably. Is it ridiculous close? Absolutely. K Love is the superior rebounder. ZBo is a superior offensive force. K Love is a slightly better passer. And uh, I really don’t know who is worse on defense. That’s the way it breaks down. So, why is ZBo so much better?

  • Spadeboy

    Pau saved kobe’s legacy. Idk about you but 2 titles in 3.3 seasons is some amazing consistency. Pau may be “soft” but he’s more of a killer in the playoffs than any of these dudes. Dirk is a fantastic player but he’s going in the gutter with this old team/no preseason/ possibly one whole year lost. 30-somethings don’t have time to spare. If the season is cancelled entirely, LA will take over the best PF mantle

  • Shifty

    All I know is that the dude has been putting up pretty much 20 and 10 for past 6 seasons, and im sure he’ll put up same numbers this coming season which makes me believe he deseves this spot, not great on defense as his highest block average is .5 which was ages ago and his steals have only averaged over 1 twice. He fits in memphis nicely though and its good to see him find a home he can get the true recognition he deserves.

  • BuzzerBeater

    Great write up. Zbo is a great fit in Memphis line-up, with Gasol’s great passing ability, Zbo is going to get a constant share of good looks under the basket. The difference between him and other top PF’s is that he’s probably got the best front court support in the League.

  • http://www.slamonline.com AllBall

    Zach Randolph was absolutely a willing passer last year, nbk you must have picked up on that. In the OKC series he kind of got caught up going at the OKC bigs a lot, but through out the regular season he was a good passer.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    1 Dirk
    2 LA
    3 Z-Bo
    4 Pau
    5 BG
    6 BO$H
    7 KLove
    8 Amaré

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com hoopistani

    Shocking. Can’t believe K-Love and Blake Griffin are ranked above Z-Bo

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER


  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    I’m sure somewhere in the back issues of Slam someone dissed Zach by saying “Z-Bo puts up meaningless stats for a meaningless team in a meaningless way.”
    He still puts up the same stats in the same way he used, just the team has changed.

  • Ivo.L

    top 5 power forwards and i will say why

    1- Dirk- midrange, 3pt and FT, rebound and pass well he have low stats but oh well, he have an unstoppable fadeaway shot… this guy is a complete face up PF

    2- Amar’e- athletic,dunk, midrange shoot, post moves, quickness

    3- Blake- well he is my fav PF- athletic can dunk everyone the way he wants with a beastly strenght, can pass the ball and a great rebounder, he is a weak shooter with a low FT %

    4- ZBO- honestly, he is a double double player with great post moves and midrange shooting

    5- Lamarcus Aldridge- for me in my opinion he is the best PF posting, nice post moves he is an athletic PF, with a cool midrange shoot

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

    Randolph was fine in New York. The season he was traded to LA he was having another 20-10 year and would have taken the Knicks (along with Jamal Crawford) to the playoffs.
    Instead he was traded for Tim.
    Tim Thomas, that is.

  • jer

    I agree that Z-BO and prolly the best
    i dont think Dirk n ZBo be really be compared
    they are so different
    but personally i wud pick Z-Bo over Dirk
    seriously dirk is redirkulous OFFENSIVELY we all know that
    but offensively ONLY
    if it wasnt for brandan haywood tyson chandler and shawn marion
    hes prolly another allen iverson
    talents unstoppable but no ring

    as for blake n klove
    they are really talented but for now
    Z-Bo is bettter than them in many ways
    blake is explosive so what
    its only a matter of time where he breaks his leg or injures himself like T-Mac grant hill etc.
    n klove we already know he neeeds improvement defensively as well
    he has had trouble guarding quicker n stronger PF
    n he doesnt seem to defend finesse type of pf like chris bosh

  • Mike

    His PER is 13th, so he’s good.
    Loves’s PER is way higher at 4th, and unless they play in different leagues Love is much better night in and night out.

  • http://slamonline 3kings

    he did great last season but he wasnt the only grizz player to improve. as a team they got alot better