Rookie's play gets him time on court.
Janny Hu, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, February 21, 2009
(02-20) 21:17 PST -- Had Anthony Randolph been drafted by a team blatantly rebuilding, like the Thunder, he'd have the carte blanche that Kevin Durant enjoys when it comes to minutes and making plays.
But different - and sometimes nebulous - rules apply under Warriors coach Don Nelson. And two-thirds of the way through Randolph's roller-coaster rookie season, the 19-year-old again has hit on the simplest way to stay on the court.
"Just play hard like I have been the last couple of games and keep doing what I can do to have coach keep putting me in the game," Randolph said. "I've got to keep working hard and just remember how it was in the beginning of the season."
The lanky lefty is a contributor once more because of injuries and an about-face from Nelson, who only two weeks ago declared that Randolph wasn't an option at center.
The next night, Randolph began a three-game run as the team's backup "5" - averaging 9 points and 7.3 rebounds in 13.3 minutes - followed by arguably his most impressive outing of the season.
He started at power forward against the Lakers on Wednesday and posted 14 points and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes. The energetic pace had the Lakers' Lamar Odom gushing afterward about Randolph's All-Star and Hall-of-Fame potential.
But the biggest compliment might have come from Nelson, who came as close as he has to saying that Randolph was indeed earning more minutes with his play.
"I hope he continues to do what he's been doing to stay on the floor," Nelson said. "He's staying out of trouble and doing what he does best. And when he does that, why, we're going to play him more and more."
Nelson wants Randolph to defend and rebound and play under control offensively. Randolph just wants to play, and has been coming to practices early and staying late to show his commitment.
The issue will be for Nelson to find minutes for both Randolph and Ronny Turiaf once starting center Andris Biedrins returns from injury as early as next week. While the easiest option would be to play two big men at once, the coach has avoided that scenario for most of the season.
Randolph said the main difference between playing power forward and center was the physical matchup against bigger opponents, and if he needs any advice, all he has to do is turn to Turiaf.
"He's been like my big brother, helping me keep a positive attitude," Randolph said. "Everybody helps me - Corey (Maggette), Jack (Stephen Jackson), Monta (Ellis), all of them. But it's Ronny on the bench during games talking to me and letting me know, 'Watch this,' or stuff like that.' "
Said Turiaf: "He's making great strides. He's playing real smart basketball, pushing the ball on the fast break, making plays, rebounding in very limited minutes and playing very assertive."
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