Anthony Randolph on the NBA: 'Now I fit in perfect, right?'

From ESPN - September 17, 2017

HELSINKI, Finland -- Anthony Randolph came into the NBA out of LSU as a tantalizing yet often frustrating talent.

His NBA career path closely resembled his maddeningly inconsistent play, as he took the floor for four teams over the course of six seasons with peaks and valleys at every stop. He was traded four times between July 9, 2010, and July 15, 2014, a stretch marred by inefficient play and wavering intensity.

The 2008 lottery pick was self-admittedly young, immature and ill-prepared for the trials and tribulations that came with an 82-game NBA season. During an era less dependent on small-ball lineups and up-tempo play, he was pegged a "tweener," not strong enough to play the 4 nor skilled enough to play the 3, and he did not do himself any favors with a somewhat shaky approach to the game. Six years after the upside-laden Randolph was drafted No. 14 overall by an exciting Golden State Warriors team, he was out of the league.

In 2014, he landed in Southern Russia with well-regarded club Lokomotiv Kuban. While Kuban has a history of success in Eurocup, Euroleague and VTB United League, Randolph was no longer treated like an elite high school recruit or a lottery pick. He was carrying his own gear, washing his own clothes and shoes and enduring two-a-day practices with only two other Americans on the roster.

"To keep it real, I got knocked down from my pedestal," Randolph said during the Eurobasket group stage in Finland. "I had to go back to the basics. It was a different experience. It helped me realize why I really started playing basketball again."

Randolph turned himself into a reliable 3-point shooter during two years in Kuban, earned All-Euroleague second-team honors and parlayed his strong stint with the Russian club into a one-year deal with Spanish power Real Madrid. Teaming with Slovenian phenom Luka Doncic and Spanish legend Sergio Llull, Randolph played a big role on a winning Real Madrid team this past season, eventually earning a contract extension and reminding NBA scouts and executives of his talent level in the process.

Now 28 years old -- 10 years and 407 games removed from his professional debut -- Randolph has finally settled in as a player, and the NBA is morphing in his favor with its big men more reliant on length, quickness, versatility and skill as opposed to brute force. Randolph, who shares the same agency -- Bill Duffy and BDA Sports -- as Doncic, Goran Dragic and coach Igor Kokoskov, opted to play for the Slovenian national team in Eurobasket this summer as a naturalized citizen and has been excellent through eight games.

During three elimination games in Istanbul, Randolph has averaged 24.7 points per 40 minutes while shooting 9-of-11 from 3 in wins over Kristaps Porzingis and Latvia, the Gasol brothers and Spain, as well as Ukraine. Alongside Doncic and Dragic, Randolph will take on Bogdan Bogdanovic and Serbia in the gold-medal game Sunday in Istanbul, serving as yet another opportunity for Randolph to prove his worth in a Sinan Erdem Dome loaded with NBA scouts and executives.

"I think he should be in the NBA," said Dragic, who came into the NBA the same year as Randolph. "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."


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