Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Anthony Randolph To Try The NBA

Yesterday, in a press conference, Anthony Randolph announced he was going to test the NBA draft waters, while leaving himself the option to return if things do not go well.

Projections seem to have him as a lottery pick, which has me perplexed.  Randolph is a very good player, certainly, but I don't see "lottery" in him, because I don't see any star potential there (at the NBA level).  I also don't see a player who elevates the play of those around him.  

Yes, he has the prototypical NBA body style with his good height and lean physique, but he certainly has to gain strength before he hopes to make any kind of an impact in the NBA, where the post game is even more physical than in college.  I don't follow the NBA much, but it is very hard to imagine Randolph going against the likes of Kevin Garnett, Shaq, or Tim Duncan and having any success at all.

It just boggles the mind that LSU could have a lottery pick on its roster and still have a losing season.  He was a good player on a bad team, but he wasn't exactly dominant.  The explanation is that Randolph isn't really a lottery pick.  They say he'll be drafted on potential, but that seems a little odd to me considering Randolph has at least a 1-year apprenticeship ahead of him and probably a 2-year apprenticeship, and then will be eligible for free agency after his third year.  And in what way is his potential higher than, say, Joe Alexander's or Eric Gordon's?

I wonder if those projections are going to start declining before the summer.  Overseas players are starting to really compete with American college players for draft slots, and one can expect 1/4 to 1/2 of all the early draft positions to be taken up by foreign players.  Plus, Randolph will have attended a bunch of camps and workouts by that time, and he will have been put through the paces.

Randolph, as I've said before, should return to LSU.  I know that it's hard to pass up money, but life is about more than money.  LSU is in all likelihood the last basketball team in which Anthony Randolph will be one of the best players.  His future, despite what some projections say, is likely as an NBA role player, watching someone like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, or Steve Nash keep the ball in his hands most of the game while Randolph (if he's on the court) is trying to stay out of his way.  

That's not a knock on Randolph.  It's just a commentary on how the NBA game is played now.  He'll have a lot more fun and win a lot more glory for himself if he stays at LSU a little while longer and leads us to a nice run somewhere.  I know his wallet says leave, but I feel pretty confident in saying that 10 years from now, he will probably wish he had stayed.

What does this mean for LSU?  Well, assuming Randolph actually goes to the NBA, it means that this was truly a wasted year.  We spent a lost season developing Randolph and setting up a future run with him as a primary weapon, and then he leaves.  If he leaves for the NBA, we would have been better off never having him in the first place.  His legacy at LSU will be zero.  He will have come in and played reasonably well on a bad team and will have left before he accomplished anything.

If Randolph wants to come back, great.  I'd love to have him back.  

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