Although he continues to largely slip underneath the radar screen as far as national attention goes, few freshman have shown more glimpses of potential than LSU power forward Anthony Randolph
It all starts with his physical tools
6-10 or 6-11, incredibly long, left-handed, fluid, quick, explosive off his feet, with great open-court speed
Randolph fits the bill and then some. He does have an extremely lanky frame, though (think Brandan Wright
), one that might struggle to put on significant weight even down the road.
Skinny or not, Randolph wows you at times with the versatility he displays offensively. Hes a very good ball-handler for his size, able to grab a rebound and take the ball all the way down the floor (weaving through traffic impressively) and finish the play himself, or even create shots for himself in the half-court. His first step is excellent, and he has some basic jab-steps or wiggle moves that keeps his matchup guessing constantly as to what his next move will be. Although hes left-handed, he seems to be just as dangerous going right, which is quite intriguing considering his size, youth, and the fact that hes seemingly living purely off his instincts at this point. This ability to face up and attack his man off the dribble makes him a huge mismatch threat at the next level, especially as he continues to polish up his ball-skills, learns how to minimize his turnovers, and becomes a better finisher around the basket. He also has some basic (mostly finesse) moves he can execute with his back to the basket, but his lack of strength hinders him from being as much of a presence here as he could.
Randolphs jump-shot needs lots of work, even if there are definitely some things to work with as hell show from time to time by knocking down a smooth mid-range jumper, sometimes coming off a pick and pop play. His mechanics are strange, though, like many left-handed shooters (especially from 3-point range), releasing the ball while almost standing sideways, not quite squaring his shoulders or elevating off the floor, and getting extremely poor resultsjust 2/16 from behind the arc on the year.
That wouldnt be so bad if Randolph didnt have as much of a tendency as he does to settle for bad shots and force out of control drives. His whole team seems to play incredibly selfish basketball, and Randolph is at times just as much a culprit as his shot-happy guards. He doesnt seem to quite know his limitations at this point, settling for weak, off-balance, turn-around jumpers from mid-range, fading away from contact in the post, and generally showing poor shot-selection and a limited feel for the game. Its not hard to tell that Randolph still has plenty of room to improve with everything that has to do with his fundamentals.
Where Randolph seems to need the most work, especially when considering how hell have to be used at the next level, in his defense. He gets pushed around in the post mercilessly; being unable to hold his spot on the block, and thus letting most big men just have their way with him as they please.
The problem here is that Randolph doesnt seem to put up much resistance, giving up too much space in the post, not showing a great deal of fire fighting back against stronger players, and displaying a laid-back demeanor that is somewhat concerning at times. He gambles for steals, shows poor awareness on the perimeter, and isnt always quite as active as you might hope. He clearly has the quickness and length to hedge screens and stay in front of his man, as well as the instincts to get after the ball and make his presence felt, but he doesnt seem to quite know how at this point. With that said, its hard not to be impressed by the physical tools, reactivity and nose for the ball he shows coming up with blocks, getting in the passing lanes, grabbing offensive rebounds and moreyoud just like to see it happen more often. There seems to have been some improvement in his effort (particularly as a rebounder) since LSU switched coaches a few weeks ago, so well have to see how this continues in the near future.
All in all, Randolph might be viewed as one of the more intriguing long-term prospects in this draft once you get past the top 5-6 names on most teams boards. Hell probably be viewed as the type of hybrid face the basket 4/3 that is becoming very much en vogue in the NBA these days (see: Shawn Marion
, Travis Outlaw
, Tyrus Thomas
, etc) as a mismatch threat playing on a very up-tempo team. There are still a lot of kinks he needs to work out in his game before he gets there--both physically and mentally--but considering the fact that he wont turn 19 until July, time is obviously on his side. From what weve been hearing for quite some time, there is a very good chance that hell be in the draft.