Warriors Spurs BasketballDo you read Bill Simmons?

If you don’t, you definitely should. The Sports Guy (that’s his nickname) writes for ESPN.com. Well, he does more than write. He blogs, he tweets, he podcasts, he has a weekly radio show. He does it all.

And he’s really funny. Wildly entertaining. If you don’t read his stuff or listen to his podcast or follow him on Twitter, you should. It will brighten your day.

Anyway, his 2009-10 NBA preview came out Friday on ESPN.com, and instead of writing a generic “here’s a look at which teams and players will succeed, surprise or sink this season” preview, he broke it down by listing the 33 most intriguing people of the 2009-10 NBA season.

It starts with Spurs guard Manu Ginobili at 33 and ends with (uh oh … spoiler alert) LeBron at No. 1 But somewhere between those two is everybody’s favorite Warrior, the one Golden State fans pin their hopes on dreams on, Anthony Randolph.

Simmons ranked Randolph No. 27, right between No. 28 Dirk Nowitzki and No. 26 Michael Beasley. He didn’t quite crack the Top 25, but 27 isn’t bad. Here’s what Simmons wrote about Randolph (comments in parentheses are mine):

“So, I split up Clippers season tickets (yes, Bill Simmons has season tickets to the Clippers. That’s how funny/crazy/awesome/clinically insane this guy is) with my buddy Tollin last week. Made sure I kept at least one Golden State game – not just because I want to sit seven rows behind what promises to be the most dysfunctional NBA bench of this decade, but because I can’t fathom missing (Anthony) Randolph in person right now; he’s like ’92 Shawn Kemp in that the experience of seeing him try to harness his freakish talents is almost more fun than watching him once he figures everything out. Anyway, the Celtics (Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, etc.), Spurs (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili), LeBrons, Kobes, Wades, Roses, CP3s, Nashes, Durants and Randolphs were my nine “I can’t miss those teams under any circumstances this season” teams. Thought that was interesting.”

NBA  Playoffs                  Sonics     Warriors    '92It is interesting. First, Simmons compares Anthony Randolph to Shawn Kemp of 1992. I remember that Shawn Kemp. He was one of my favorite players in the game. I loved watching him. You never knew what he was going to do. He was incredible. Here’s a look at Shawn Kemp’s stats from 1992: 64 games (only 23 starts!), 15.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.9 blocks.

That’s spooky. Look at Anthony Randolph’s per-36 minute averages from last season: 15.9 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.34 steals, 2.4 blocks. I never thought of Anthony Randolph as the next Shawn Kemp (the awesome, athletic, young Kemp). But the comparison works. And it’s an exciting comparison to think about.

Back to Simmons. After drawing the Kemp comparison, he proceeds to compare Randolph and the level of excitement surrounding this young man’s potential to the level of excitement surrounding the following NBA stars: Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, and Kevin Durant. Is Randolph really that good? No. But is his potential that high? Maybe.

So why is Don Nelson saying he’s going to start Corey Maggette at power forward again?

Can anybody explain this to me?

I guess Randolph’s back is giving him some trouble. And he’ll need to fix that. And we know that Nelson had Randolph in his doghouse last season more than any other Warrior. But if these two can just get along, if Nelson can swallow his pride and give Randolph the 35-40 minutes per game he deserves, the sky is the limit with this kid.

Think about it. As a 19-year-old rookie clueless to the realities of the NBA last season, Randolph averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds, with 1.3 steals and 2.4 blocks in starter’s minutes. He has another year of experience and he worked really hard this summer. What could he do this season if Nelson unleashed him on the NBA?

Here’s my prediction. If Nelson checks his ego and plays Randolph 35-40 minutes per game consistently this season, Randolph will blow up the NBA to the tune of 18 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks per game. Like a young Garnett, but without the five assists.

He just needs the trust of his coach and the minutes on the court. Let’s hope he gets it.

Here’s a link to Bill Simmon’s NBA previews (worth a read): Part 1: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmonsnflpicks/part1/091023&sportCat=nba

Part 2: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/part2/091023&sportCat=nba