- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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IT'S ABOUT an hour after the Warriors have wrapped up practice, and the only player still on the court is Anthony Randolph. He's at the top of the key, taking passes from a contraption under the rim that spits out balls like a pitching machine. He catches, drives right or left, and consistently hits his new favorite shot—a 15-foot pull-up jumper near the baseline.
Last year, shortly after practice ended the 6'10", 205-pound Randolph would have been driving back to his home in Walnut Creek. Why the change? His evolution from the youngest player in the NBA, at 19, last season—picked 14th out of LSU, he's still four months younger than Blake Griffin—to the most dedicated player on Golden State didn't come easily. Last November, coach Don Nelson openly chastised Randolph for his poor work ethic and was reportedly shopping him. "We're going to put him on ice for a while," Nelson said at the time. "He's just going to have to grow up."
Randolph finally began applying himself after enduring 18 DNP-CDs, and by March he worked his way into the rotation. Soon his play made it impossible for Nelson to keep him off the court. Showing versatility and athleticism, Randolph averaged 13.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.59 blocks in his final 12 games.
After the season Randolph looked to build on his progress, working out three times a day at the team's' Oakland training center. He continued his development during the NBA summer league in Las Vegas, where he averaged a record 26.9 points, earning him an invitation to USA Basketball's summer camp. His development and commitment, along with the arrival of rookie guard Stephen Curry, give hope to a struggling franchise.
"He wasn't going to grow the way I wanted him to until he started working, and it took awhile," Nelson says. "But now no one works harder. I've never seen anything like it."
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE with 2008--09 statistics
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
KEY BENCH PLAYERS: G-F Corey Maggette, 18.6 PPG; G-F Kelenna Azubuike, 14.4 PPG; F-C Ronny Turiaf, 2.13 BPG; G-F Anthony Morrow, 10.1 PPG • New acquisition • (R) Rookie, college stats
COACH: Don Nelson (fourth season with Warriors) • 2008--09 RECORD: 29--53 (third in Pacific)
POINTS SCORED: 108.6 (second in NBA) • POINTS ALLOWED: 112.3 (30th in NBA)