It wasn’t that the Grizzlies hung with a team they had no business hanging with.
It wasn’t that the lights went out.
It wasn’t that Matt Barnes and Vince Carter stayed on the floor until the end of the game.
It wasn’t even HCDJ’s emotional press conference after the game
In the second quarter, Zbo comes down with a rebound and there is a stoppage in play. Randolph walks to the bench with and obvious limp. Hubie Brown, one of the best commentators out there, notes that with all injuries the Grizzlies have faced this season, that now it looks like they might be without ZBo.
But those of us who had been watching knew that he has had that limp for weeks. Cause it is hard carrying a team like this on your back for as long as he did the season.
The Season in Numbers
Zach Randolph played in 63 games this season, starting 53 of the games. Only Matt Barnes played in more games in this ridiculous season. The Grizzlies were 37-31 with Randolph in the lineup. It seems like a long time ago, but there was a long stretch in December in which ZBo took a backseat and came off the bench behind the "Jeff Green/Matt Barnes at the four experiment."
Let’s face it…Zach’s numbers were down this year. 15.3 points per game was his lowest output since 2011-2012, where he only played in 28 games and started in eight in a strike shortened season. His 7.8 rebounds per game were his lowest since 2002, when he was playing 17 minutes a night coming off the bench for Portland. As a matter of fact, the most concerning numbers was his drop off in rebounding. Last season ZBo averaged a double-double (16 and 10), but had 32 games in which he had bet 10-14 rebounds (45% of his games). This season, Zach only had 16 games in which he had between 10-14 rebounds (25%). Now, there are a myriad of explanations for this downturn in rebounding, namely injuries in the second half of the season to Marc Gasol. But this drop off is a little disconcerting.
Compared to last season, his shooting percentage was similar, but there was one essential difference.
Note the drop in percentage around the basket. This too can be explained by the fact that with Marc either not performing well or out of the lineup; Zach was facing the opposing team’s best defender. But for ZBo to be at his peak, he has to hit those bunnies.
Best Game of the Year
Zach Randolph has had 460 double-doubles in his illustrious and bordering on Hall-of-Fame worthy career. This season he had 17 double doubles in 63 games, his lowest output since 2011-2012. But he did get his first career triple double, March 19th against the hated Clippers.
If you missed that one, it was vintage ZBo. He just abused DeAndre Jordan’s overrated ass all night long, and in the process became the third oldest player to record his first career triple double, behind teammate Matt Barnes and Dennis Rodman.
November 2nd, 2015 against the Golden State Warriors. Four points and three rebounds in a fifty point loss. Let’s not think anymore about this one, shall we.
The grade would have been lower due to his numbers being down and the way the Spurs have owned him ever since 2011. But ZBo fought hard all season long, took on any role that was given to him, and kept pushing all season. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the playoff series that the series wasn't a fair fight but the Grizzlies never played like it wasn’t. And I’d like to think he was talking right to Zach Randolph.
Zach Randolph has one year left on his extended deal with a cap hit of 10.7 million dollars. With the salary cap going up, this looks like a bargain for a guy who can and should still be starting in the NBA. Hell, he was the only starting caliber player in the Grizzlies starting lineup for the playoffs. However, with the Mike Conley rumors, the late season emergence of JaMychal Green and Jarell Martin and the so-called demise of Grit-n-Grind basketball, it will be interesting to see what ZBo’s role will be going forward.
Maybe the days of Mr. 20 and 10 are behind us.
Maybe #feedfifty and throw it to the hand just isn't a viable option anymore.
Or maybe this is just the part of the Zach Randolph story in which the gang gets back together again for one more shot, and we see some of that old magic again.