Zach Randolph Needs to Step It Up For Memphis Grizzlies

By Nathan Grubel
Zach Randolph
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies are an anemic offensive team as it is, but without Zach Randolph contributing at a high level, this team cannot hope to contend for an NBA title.

Randolph is a load down low. At 6-foot-9 and 260-pounds, Randolph is not easy to move when he establishes post position. That is a big part of his game that makes him so successful in the NBA today: taking advantage of his size to get himself good looks on the low block.

Randolph uses his size and his tremendous footwork to put his back to a defender and back them down low in the post. After Randolph has his man far enough down low where he wants them, he calls for the ball and takes his man to work. By having post position low enough, there is not much his defender can do because of Randolph’s girth and strength. Most times this position can either lead to an easy shot down low, or if Randolph uses similar technique to box out his opponent it can lead to an offensive rebound and a put back score.

Randolph has made a living off of this strategy, and its effectiveness cannot initially be denied as Randolph averages 17.2 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game for his career.

Where Randolph runs into problems, however, is when a team can throw two bigs at him and double team him in the post.

The San Antonio Spurs are a primary example.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has put his team in a successful position to win more times than not, and when facing the Grizzlies, he has been able to shut down Randolph in many of their biggest showdowns, including the playoffs.

When the Grizzlies upset the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs in 2011, the Spurs were relying solely on an aging Tim Duncan in the post. Aging veteran Antonio McDyess was the other big body down low given the task of guarding Randolph, trying to limit his opportunities to get easy looks and crash the boards. Randolph was able to take advantage of the both of them and create opportunities for himself. This success led to the Grizzlies’ victory over the Spurs in the playoffs.

Nowadays, Popovich does not have to rely on both of his post players being aging veterans. Tiago Splitter has been a difference maker for the Spurs when they go up against the Grizzlies.

Splitter is a long and agile center who is able to double team with Duncan and create problems for Randolph. Both of these big men are taller than 6-foot-11, which creates a problem for Randolph because he focuses on using his size to beat opponents. Randolph is not tall or an explosive athlete. Two big men with length who are able to limit Randolph’s touches in the post can cause problems and lead to him having a bad night.

As for the other contenders in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers all have big men who are long and are able to double team Randolph in the post to cause problems. Where Randolph can improve his game and step it up for the Grizzlies is to become a better passer out of the post.

Instead of trying to go up against both defenders and get his shot blocked, Randolph should look around the court more and pass out of the double team to an open teammate more regularly to hopefully get a better looking shot off. Randolph is a better passer than most give him credit for, and he needs to take advantage of that skill more times than not for the Grizzlies to be more effective.

The more times Randolph can successfully accomplish passing the ball out, the more he can use his footwork to bait opponents into thinking he is going to give the ball up before going up towards the basket for an easy two.

Randolph can also be more effective in using his mid range jump shot to get more scoring opportunities for himself, as well as creating more contact when going up for shots to get to the free throw line where he shoots 76.3 percent for his career.

Randolph is great at boxing out and getting rebounds on the defensive end, but it is on the other end of the court where he needs to be successful in order to give the Grizzlies a fighting chance to contend for a title.

Nathan Grubel is a Memphis Grizzlies writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @The_Only_Grubes, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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