REAL HOOPERS: Zach Randolph

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  • PF/C
  • 6’9, 250 lbs
  • 19th Overall Pick, 2001 NBA Draft (Portland)
  • College: Michigan State
  • Hometown: Marion, Indiana
  • Career Stats: 16.6 ppg, 9.1 reb
  • 2x NBA All Star
  • All-NBA Team (2011)
  • NBA Most Improved Player (2004)

Standout Seasons: 2003-04, 2006-07, 2009-10

  • 2003-04: 81 GP/ 80 GS, 37.9 MPG, 20.1 PPG, 10.5 REB, 2 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK, 76.1 FT%, 48.5 FG%
  • 2006-07: 68 GP/ 67 GS, 35.7 MPG, 23.6 PPG, 10.1 REB, 2.2 AST, 0.8 STL, 81.9 FT%, 47.3 FG%,
  • 2009-10: 81 GP/ 81 GS, 37.7 MPG, 20.8 PPG, 11.7 REB, 1.8 AST, 1 STL, 75.8 FT%, 48.8 FG%,

The below the rim legend, the 20-10 regular, Zach Randolph is a certified legend in the new-age NBA community. Whether he was turning heads with his unconventional style of play, reppin’ the GD’s on a episode of MTV Cribs, punking out Blake Griffin or using a flip phone in the locker room, Z-Bo was a loveable player, fearsome competitor and unlikely legend all wrapped into one. Before he asserted himself as a franchise changer in Memphis, Randolph had a lengthy NBA journey full of peaks and valleys.

Randolph entered the NBA as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, who selected him with the 19th pick of the 2001 NBA Draft. Whilst with the Blazers Z-Bo developed into a walking 20-10. In 6 seasons with Portland, Z-Bo averaged 16 PPG and 7.7 RPG. He also captured the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award in 2004 after averaging 20.1 PPG and 10.5 RPG over 81 games. In order to awash themselves from the Jail Blazers era, Randolph was shipped to the Knicks.

The only thing that stayed consistent for the Knicks during his stay was his near 20-10 production. After one season (and some change) in New York, Z-Bo was traded yet again. This time to the Los Angeles Clippers. His short 39 game stay in Staples is best remembered for his punching of Lou Ammundson in the jaw. Z-Bo was still productive for the Clips, as he continued his 20-10 binge. With the Clippers winning the Draft Lottery and in turn, being blessed with the opportunity to select consensus No.1 pick Blake Griffin, Randolph’s services were surplus to requirements. Randolph was shipped to Memphis in exchange for Quentin Richardson.

It seemed like Z-Bo was destined to waste his best years putting up gaudy numbers on losing teams. This move to Mephis would change this narrative forever. Becoming a Grizzly transformed Zach Randolph’s career. During his first sojourn in Memphis, Z-Bo put up averages of 20.8 PPG and 11.7 RPG. This outstanding production earned him a trip to his first All-Star game. The Grizzlies drastically improved under Z-Bo’s leadership and they would sneak into the Playoffs as an eighth-seed in Zach’s second year as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. Piggybacked by Z-Bo’s constant 20-10 production, Memphis’ 2011 Playoff run was unprecedented for the bottom-dwelling franchise. Memphis would eliminate the top-seeded Spurs in a dramatic 7 game first-round series. The Grizzlies would fall to the Thunder in the second round, in an equally scintillating 7 game series. After the historic playoff run, Z-Bo inked an extension to stay in M-Town. Zach Randolph was officially a franchise player.

In the space of two seasons, Z-Bo had completely flipped the narrative on his career. He went from team-killer to the face of a rising franchise. Z-Bo’s transformation ushered in the Grit n’ Grind era of Grizzlies Basketball. As a member of the Grizzlies, Z-Bo would continue to star in deep playoff runs. Their best performance was a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2013. Unfortunately they were swept by the Spurs. The city of Memphis embraced Z-Bo and Z-Bo embraced the city of Memphis.

As the face of the Grizzlies, Z-Bo transformed the franchise and left a legacy within the greater Memphis community. His signature face-up jumper, relentless pursuit of rebounds and bully-ball, made Mac-Bo a legend in the city of Memphis. Z-Bo played with an unmatched passion as a Grizzly. Zach Randolph’s unconventional game, and Memphis’ unconventional franchise history were the perfect fit for each other. Together they learnt how to be great. Together they created history. When Memphis decided to move on from their Grit n Grind philosophy, they decided to move on from franchise icon Zach Randolph as well. Z-Bo ended his career with the Kings, eventually retiring in 2019.

Z-Bo is living proof that sometimes you just need the right fit to fulfil your potential. Once he found the right fit, Randolph took the Grizzlies franchise to heights it had never reached before. For reasons both on and off the court, Z-Bo is a ‘Real Hooper’.     

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