Anthony Randolph had his best game of the season Monday night in the Warriors’ 146-105 win against the Timberwolves (check out the incredible photo to the right). I don’t think it was a breakout game, in that I don’t think we’ll suddenly see consistent performances like this from Randolph. He is so young and inexperienced, and I think that we should expect a season full of ups and downs.
I still think Randolph has the highest potential of any player on this roster. Stephen Curry can challenge that claim, but I think because of Randolph’s size and ability to have a serious defensive impact, he still gets the nod. What you want to see from Randolph is overall improvement from the beginning to the end of the season. I expect that’s what we’ll get.
Monday’s performance was definitely in the up category. He played a season-high 30 minutes and had 23 points. He shot 8 for 14 from the field and hit 7 of 8 free throws. He also had three blocks and seven rebounds.
The only number that disappoints me, and this is definitely nitpicking, is the rebounds. I think that anytime Randolph plays 30 minutes or more, he shouldn’t be held below double digits in rebounds. He’s so athletic and has pretty good natural rebounding instincts; he should get to more caroms than seven. Still, it was a great overall performance by the Warriors’ young power forward.
Randolph was very active, which was good to see. I think Randolph is an interesting case, because it seems like if the Warriors work to get him involved in the offense early, and he has some initial success on offense, you’ll see his energy level rise and he starts using that extra energy on defense. It’s supposed to be the other way around, that a player who exerts himself on defense will have the offense open up for him, but with Randolph, it seems like he needs his offense to get going in order for him to get going on defense. It showed Monday. A few minutes after he entered the game, Randolph got a few easy scores, started grabbing some rebounds, and then you started to notice him more, flying around on offense and defense. He was helpful in taking Minnesota’s talented big man, Al Jefferson, out of the game. Jefferson started well, scoring pretty easily against Mikki Moore early on. But when Randolph was in, Jefferson was a non-factor. It was nice to see Randolph use his height and length to intimidate the Timberwolves on more than one occasion.
I think coming into this season, the hype for Randolph was too much. He had a really nice final month last season, blew up in summer league, and suddenly he was supposed to be a young Kevin Garnett for the Warriors. But he’s only 20 years old. He’s very inconsistent, and though he shows some very impressive flashes of his potential at times (and sometimes for entire games, like Monday), there will be a lot of times this season when you won’t be sure exactly what he’s doing out there on the court. Give him the benefit of the doubt, though. There will be growing pains, but it should be fun to watch him learn and progress.