Anthony Randolph, who played for four teams in six years after being selected 14th in the 2008 draft, hasn’t given up on his NBA dream, writes Mike Schmitz of ESPN.
The 28-year-old has reworked his game and his body and is serving as a center with 3-point range for a Slovenia team that reached today’s EuroBasket championship. Randolph, who shares an agent with Slovenian star Goran Dragic and 2018 draft prospect Luka Doncic, became a naturalized citizen to join the team. He has averaged 24.7 points per 40 minutes in the tournament while hitting 9-of-11 shots from 3-point range.
“I think he should be in the NBA,” Dragic said. “It’s just life. He said he made some choices that maybe he would do differently, and I still believe he can make it. He is a huge addition to our team. He can play multiple positions — 3, 4, 5. He gives us a different type of game. In the past, we never had a guy you can throw an alley-oop to, can switch everything, can take the big guys out, shoot the mid-range or a 3. He’s a complete player.”
Randolph, who entered the league at age 19, admits he was immature during his time in the NBA, where he was considered a “tweener” who didn’t quite fit traditional size requirements for a small forward or power forward. He is now 6’11” and 230 pounds with a 7’3″ wingspan and has the ability to stretch the floor that teams are seeking in a big man.
Randolph admits being “knocked down from my pedestal” after being waived out of the league on his 25th birthday in 2014. He never quite lived up to expectations with the Warriors, Knicks, Timberwolves and Nuggets and had to look overseas to continue his basketball career.
“I had to go back to the basics,” Randolph said. “It was a different experience. It helped me realize why I really started playing basketball again.”
He signed with Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia, far from the glamour of the NBA lifestyle, and developed his skills as a 3-point shooter. He spent last year with Real Madrid alongside Doncic and earned a contract extension with the Spanish team. That deal includes an escape clause next season if an NBA team comes calling, but Randolph won’t take just any opportunity.
“I won’t go back in the NBA just to say, ‘Oh, I’m back in the NBA,'” Randolph said. “I feel like I have to know that I’m going to have a role and that I can help the team and that I have an opportunity to play. I don’t want to go sit on the bench, I want to play. I love playing basketball.”