Who Is The NBA’s Next Zach Randolph?
NBA fans (including DrJays.com—exhibit A, exhibit B) have gone Zach Randolph crazy! After destroying Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, he’s the NBA’s current flavor of the month. As recently has three years ago it looked like Zach was headed to the NBA scrapheap, after miserable seasons with the Portland Trailblazers (during their infamous “Jailblazers” era), the New York Knicks (during their infamous “Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury sexual harassment” era) and the Los Angeles Clippers (during their infamous “being the Los Angeles Clippers” era), but after a trade to the Memphis Grizzlies his career has changed for the better.
So we got to thinking, who could be the next Zach Randolph? Here’s a selection of young NBA players with potential, but with something—be it on- or off-court issues—holding them back. Check back on this list in five years to see if they’re NBA All-Stars or Kazakhstan Basketball League All-Stars.
JaVale McGee, Washington Wizards: McGee easily has the most potential of anyone on this list, plus his “headcaseiness” is also quite low. His only real blemishes are participating in Gilbert Arenas’ “finger guns” pre-game dance after Arenas was found to be storing handguns in the Wizards locker room and unashamedly shooting (pun intended) for a triple-double during the final minutes of a blowout game. At the age of 23, he’s already been invited to play with Team USA, so if he adds a skill to his current skill set of “being tall, athletic, and able to dunk three basketballs at once” and he stays away from players who poop in their teammates’ shoes, McGee could be an all-star.
J.R. Smith, Denver Nuggets: This paragraph originally started off with “J.R. Smith might be too old to be on this list”—except he’s only 25. It just feels like he’s been around forever, being drafted in 2004 straight out of high school. Smith is the ultimate NBA 2K11 player, meaning he’s got video game skills, but bonehead decision making. Oh, and there’s the little thing about crashing his car and killing his friend a few years ago. If he can get his off-court life together and ends up on a team who can give him major minutes (he’s currently a free agent) with a coach who’ll keep him on a short leash, this could be the outcome.
Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons: Almost everyone on the 2010/11 Pistons squad will come away with a residual stink from their pathetic season, Stuckey probably more than most. This was meant to be his breakout year, but instead it featured nothing but Stuckey and the Pistons either (a) feuding with their coach, (b) losing, or (c) feuding with the coach while losing. Ending up on another team—much like when Randolph left the toxic environment of the Blazers/Knicks/Clippers—is probably the best way for Stuckey to fast-track his career.
Nate Robinson, Zombie Sonics: Nate is somewhat of an anomaly on this list, because he doesn’t really have any disruptive incidents in his history, besides a minor run-in with Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni and a heat-of-the-moment brawl with J.R. Smith. He’s bounced from New York to the Boston Celtics to the Oklahoma City Thunder, winning three dunk contest titles along the way, but right now has seen zero minutes for the Thunder in the playoffs. In the right system he could be a killer 6th/7th man, but if it doesn’t happen soon it most probably won’t happen at all.
Kwame Brown, Charlotte Bobcats: Nah, just joking. He’s a bum.