Mike D'Antoni Explains Anthony Randolph's Role with the Knicks
Monday, July 19, 2010
Posted By Eric Freeman 2:15 PM
For two seasons, Anthony Randolph has been more of a mad scientist's experiment than a basketball player. In his first Summer League, he burst onto the Vegas scene with a wildly versatile game with scoring, rebounding, passing, shotblocking, and virtually everything else you can do on the basketball court.

That included occasionally startling inconsistency along with the usual mistakes of on-court youth. Unfortunately for Randolph, he had the worst coach for a player with these issues. Don Nelson never seemed to know what to do with him and yanked his minutes around with no rhyme or reason. In short, Randolph didn't have the chance to grow into a role.

Thankfully for Randolph, he's no longer under the control of the nefarious Nelson. But there's still some question as to exactly how Mike D'Antoni will choose to use him in New York.


Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk spoke with D'Antoni over the weekend at Summer League, and it appears that the architect of Seven Seconds or Less intends to embrace the reality of his new player:
"He's a multi-position player that has a world of talent whose athleticism is off the charts. He's only played two years in the league and just turned 21. There's a lot of positives and we'll figure out where we fit him in, and figure out what the best position is for him, but he can play a lot of places."
In other words, Randolph's role will be that he has no fixed role. In the past, D'Antoni used Boris Diaw in a similar way to great effect with Phoenix, and it's easy to see Randolph doing much the same. When you have a player like Randolph, the best thing to do is to let him create his own position, not fit him into one of basketball's established roles.

It's often said that young players succeed when they know what is expected of them. But for Randolph, it makes little sense to give them a set of expectations when he is a confusing player even for the coaches who know him best. What he needs is regular playing time, not a prescribed role. Over time, Randolph's strengths will become clear, and his role will create itself. But he's a player who needs that kind of searching period where his mistakes will be tolerated and his game can find itself organically.

Nellie never gave him that chance with the Warriors. It appears that D'Antoni understands Randolph quite well, though.


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