Zach Randolph just had his worst season of basketball since Eminem and Dr. Dre used to actually rap and J-Lo was just Jenny from the block. Z-Bo’s minutes, points, and rebounds all took big hits and he only started eight of the 28 games he played in. The main culprit of his lost season was a partial MCL tear he suffered early in the season. While tearing anything on your body sounds excruciatingly painful, Z-Bo came back and played well off the bench for the Grizzles. Yet the reason why coach Lionel Hollins continued to start Marreesse Speights (whose parents must have been cross-eyed when naming him) over Randolph is beyond me. Maybe Randolph hit on Collins’ daughter on Facebook. Maybe Randolph poked fun (pun point!) at Hollins’ jacked up fingers. Whatever the case, Randolph wasn’t playing nearly as much as he should have been last season.
So what makes Z-Bo a sleeper for this upcoming season? Simply put, he is going to be undervalued on draft day due to his craptastic season last year (see also: Saberhagenmetrics). Anyone who believes that Marreesse Speights will be the starter next year is greatly miisstaakken; Randolph is clearly the superior balla. Despite the reduction in playing time last season, Z-Bo’s per-36 averages were in line with his career marks. The scoring was down a bit, but that was likely a result of the Grizzles having more scoring options than previous years. While it seems as though Randolph has been playing in the NBA forever, he is still just 30 years old. There is no reason to think that last year was the beginning of the end for the dub-dub machine. People are quick to forget what a fantasy asset Z-Bo was as recent as 2010-2011. As for next season, with a return to the starting lineup, I could see Randolph having a line of .480/.750/16.5/11.0. That’s not too much of a drop-off from top-tier forwards like Blake Griffin orDavid Lee, and Z-Bo won’t cost you mo’ mo’.