Andris Biedrins

Anthony Randolph: Small Head, Big Game

It’s too bad for Anthony Randolph that BALCO doesn’t exist anymore, cause he could use a few of their fine athletic cocktails. If he went on the Barry Bonds regimen, he would not only get some meat on those long, frail-looking bones, but also increase his head to the size of a normal human’s.

I haven’t been to Oracle yet this season, so maybe Randolph’s head isn’t as small as it looks on television. I mean, the dude is looooonnngggg. Forget Brandan Wright, whose lackadaisical play and sleepy expression recently sparked a “tired or stoned” debate in my fantasy basketball league. Randolph is going to be a star. He passes with flair, which actually led to one of the two mistakes he made last night in the fourth quarter. After throwing a dangerous pass towards the paint that was intercepted, Randolph ran across the length of the court to reject Larry Hughes. Stopping Hughes at the rim is a lot easier these days than back when Hughes was a Warrior, but the play was still enough to get me leap off the couch.

After picking up a key rebound with less than a minute left and down three, Stephen Jackson (in the midst of a 13-for-20, 8 turnover night) passed to Randolph, who took the ball from the three point line to the hole in three easy strides before botching the right-handed layup. Matt Steinmetz said he was more impressed by how pissed off Randolph was that he missed the shot. I was more impressed that he got to the basket so easily in the last minute of the game.

Randolph went 4-for-7 with 10 points, 9 rebounds (!!!), 4 blocked shots (!!!!!) and a steal in 13 minutes. Compare that to the rest of the bench (Wright, Marcus Williams, Ronny Turiaf and Marco Belinelli), who combined to go 5-for-14 with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks and a steal in 37 minutes.

The Warriors seem as deep as they’ve ever been, but devoid of a superstar. Well, a superstar that has reached his potential that is. I’m going to go out on a limb here. Are you ready? Wait for it … Anthony Randolph will be the best player on the Warriors within three years (unless Biedrins keeps on improving, in which case the Warriors might actually become a title contender by 2012), and one of the best players in the NBA within five. I said the same thing to my friends about Kobe Bryant when he broke into the league as an 18-year-old, and I received the same reaction from most people back then that I probably will for calling Randolph a future superstar.

There are a lot of similarities between the two players at this age, however — great handles, nuclear athleticism and an innate ability to get to the hole (when not turning the ball over — a problem for both players at this stage). Randolph has been labeled quiet since his arrival, but he’s got the same aggressive mentality Bryant showed as a youngster from Lower Merion High School who earned the label “Showboat” from Shaq for his antics during Lakers practices. From what Bob Fitzgerald said last night, Randolph has been throwing down windmill dunks in practice that would bring the house down.

Yeah, the Warriors lost last night to the Bulls. So what? They finally have their superstar. And Randolph isn’t going to be a Baron Davis “I won’t always be in shape, and I’m not going to bring it every night, but sometimes I’ll look like the best player in the league” type of superstar. It’s going to take a few years (and a commitment to playing him from Don Nelson), but trust me, the future looks brighter now for the Warriors than it has since midway through Chris Webber’s rookie season. I know it’s difficult for Warriors’ fans to be patient, but the payoff with Randolph is going to be worth it. And when Randolph’s fame skyrockets, it won’t matter if he gets a big head. Confidence is a better head grower than performance enhancing drugs any day.

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