Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Zach Pics

There's considerable conversation today about Zach Randolph's Workout Pics at the Blazer website (via Eric Marentette). He does look a bit leaner than his playing weight at the end of last season. I suppose we'll have a chance to get all jazzed about the possibilities as training camp approaches but forgive me if I'm still underwhelmed. To wit...

1. Unlike many, I have never offered weight as a significant criticism of Zach. With the style he plays a few pounds more or less won't make much difference and to my eyes he's never been that overweight anyway. Skinny, uninspired, two-dimensional play is not much better than hefty, uninspired, two dimensional play. Being lighter might make it easier to give a little effort though.

2. Zach has always come into camp in decent shape, even last year after the surgery. His m.o. is to gain weight during the season.

3. I see the photographs, but I also saw him in Vegas and though he was wearing a baggy shirt that made it hard to tell, he didn't look all that much different than when I saw him midway through last season. That's not to say that he hasn't lost weight, but in person it didn't look like a radical, shocking transformation or anything.

4. Every summer/fall I maintain the same thing: You'll know we've truly made it when we don't have to read even one article about how Player X has reformed his life or Player Y has gotten into better shape this year. Those things should be de facto on a good team. Would it be better if Zach were in great shape? Sure. But getting all excited about it is like crowing over a college kid being able to read. You're a professional athlete! You're supposed to be in shape! I know the pictures are meant to be a positive PR point for the team and all, but the fact that the issue is significant shows as much about what's still wrong with the team as what's getting better.

--Dave (


Anonymous TP43 said...

Sheesh, why you gotta go and get all logical on us?! Just because we're paying him millions over the table instead of thousands under the table in college is no reason to expect him to actually work on his instrument and his craft.

Seriously, I've got to cling to the hope, however tenuous, that perhaps this signals the proverbial light coming on and he's going to show up and work hard day in and day out this year. Turning blue as I type...

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Earl said...

I know that I'm not going to know anything until the season starts and he either shows he's motivated or not, but this is at the least a positive sign. I know you're jaded Dave, I think all Blazer fans are, but I think it's a mistake to make our decisions now about Zach's motivation to become a better and more well-rounded player.

I agree that as a "professional" athlete, your job is to come to work in shape. However, Zach hasn't since his second year. He almost never dunks anymore. That's important not because it's not as showy, but because defenders know he is never going to finish strong at the rim. I even see him lay it up on break-aways. Which is ridiculous at his height. It takes a big facet of his low post game away. That extra weight also slows him down including his goto move the spin.

Anyway, I'm not exactly hopeful things will really change with him I just think if he's not traded let's give him one last chance. And yes I voted to trade him not Darius and I still do, regardless of pictures. Even if he "works hard day in an day out", he still can't defend and turns the ball over when it matters. Well, we'll see I guess.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Yup..."we'll see" is about where I'm at.


6:11 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

Positives: He's motivated. He's at least trying. Bayno is a good coach to work with the young guys.

(possible) Negative: Where's Wald... Darius?

6:16 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

You know, I've been thinking about it, and maybe I am too jaded or skeptical or whatever, but the Blazers have played Lucy to our place-kicking Charlie Brown enough in these matters that I think it's warranted. Believe me, I'd love to be proved wrong on this. If Zach really did dedicate himself to being in shape, playing hard, playing right, and using that talent to lead the team to bigger and better things I would be ecstatic. I'd pee my pants. But I'm not holding my breath.

And it's not just because of Zach himself. Can you name another player that really turned over a new leaf like that, becoming great himself and leading his team to greatness after underperforming and copping a bad attitude for the first part of his career? I'm really struggling to come up with one. Sometimes they can become secondary guys under a strong leader (Terry, Stackhouse, et al) but when they're your great hope it never works out. In fact the annual tombstones of bad-to-mediocre teams are usually engraved with the names of just such guys.

(sigh) I want to be the optimistic fan here, but...ugh.


9:24 PM  
Anonymous brian said...

I'm with you all the way Dave. The thing about this is, even if Zach is in better shape, it doesn't do anything to address his biggest problems as a player: being the black hole on offense and a bystander on defense. All these photos show us is that he's hit the gym the last few weeks; big deal!
I think the best you can realistically hope for is that his lighter frame will make him a bit quicker and will help lay to rest any lingering misgivings about his knee, which might be enough to make someone take a chance on trading for him.

2:23 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

I made a similar comment on a forum a couple days ago but I slightly misworded it. You have done much better here. After a player has been in the league for a couple of years, you generally have a good idea what to expect. That is why the MIP role call shows a lot of guys who turned out to be flashes rather than flames.

The couple of examples I can think of, which is not to say that they were ever bad per se, are: John Stockton, John Starks, Ben Wallace and the amazing Steve Nash.

I seem to remember that Hakeem Olajuwan went through a couple of really bad years, too.

We aren't without hope for Zach but I must say that I, like so many others, am waiting with bated breath. There is something about Zach, though, that I don't see with Darius. There's something about him that makes you want to pull for him. He's really just a guy, a fairly likeable guy.

6:43 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Ken...I don't think any of those five fit the situation exactly. The abilities of Stockton and Olajuwon were never in doubt. Their bad/learning years were only in comparison to themselves and their expectations. And once they started upwards I don't think their teams ever seriously considered trading them or were even that disappointed with them. Ben Wallace never got the chance to shine anywhere but Detroit and certainly wasn't expected or paid to be the main man. Nash has been pretty solid since his early Dallas days and his attitude was never in question. Starks I wouldn't consider in the same league with the others. He's one of those guys that became good for a while but not great. If Zach only turned out to be Starks he'd be a disappointment. I'd say if you stretched it some of these guys might fall around the target range, but none of them hit it.

I think Darius and Zach are both fairly likeable in some ways. Certainly it's hard to resist either one on the court when they're shining. It's like having a cute girlfriend who's a real nitwit and annoying to boot. Over time those occasional moments of "Wow! She's hot!" become fewer and secondary to the "Oy! This is NOT worth it!" feelings.


3:04 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Good call on the MIP thing, by the way.


3:05 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

The gauntlet has ben thrown down...

Obviously, I know those guys don't strictly fit the definition. How about Mad Max?

His career was up and down like a freaking yo-yo.

Oh, and Rodman. Didn't he come very near to committing suicide after Daly left Detroit, then he came abck and had a stellar if not extremely weird career.

By the way, we are arguing on the same side of this coin, right?

11:00 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Probably less arguing than hunting names. Maxwell did have the up and down career, but again I'm thinking that he's below Zach's supposed level. (And not somebody you'd want on your team in any case.) Rodman I think is closer. I also think some would say Cassell is an example. Perhaps Sprewell too. I'm still not entirely satisfied though, because you wouldn't want to give a Zach-like contract to any of those guys, but they are getting nearer.


11:12 AM  

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