When the Sacramento Kings handed Zach Randolph a two-year, $25 million deal, it was with the thought that the veteran big man would mentor the teams young players. He’d moved to the bench last season with the Memphis Grizzlies, opening the door for the Kings to throw money and perhaps a starting position at the 36-year-old big man.
Wednesday night in Brooklyn, the 17-year NBA veteran put on a show once again, dropping 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with eight rebounds. He’s not just a veteran presence for the Kings, he’s their leading scorer and rebounded, despite being a senior citizen by NBA standards.
“He’s an unbelievable man off the court,” rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic said following the Kings narrow 104-99 win over the Nets. “His personality is unbelievable. He’s good as a man and he’s always there to teach us something new everyday. His experience is helping us to improve as a team.”
With his first rebound against the Nets, Randolph became just the 43rd player in NBA history to reach the 10,000 rebound plateau and the 20th player to score over 18,000 points and grab 10,000 boards.
“It felt good,” Randolph said following the win. “I’ve always dedicated myself. Always thought I was one of the better rebounders in the league. So I really am proud about that. It’s a blessing.”
Randolph has averaged 10 or more rebounds in a season nine times during his career. He has a career average of 9.2 boards per game to go with 16.7 points in 1084 regular season games.
He came into the league as a below the rim threat and he’s made a career out of being physical and aggressive on the glass.
“Rebounding is an art,” Randolph said. “I tell the young guys, it’s not about who jumps the highest, how strong you are. Rebounding is about positioning and having a knack for the ball.”
The cagey veteran didn’t even know how close he was to the mark until a close friend informed him after the game on Monday night. He finished the Sixers game with 9,999 rebounds, but had no problems getting over the hump in the game against Brooklyn.
“You can’t stop him from getting rebounds and being Z-Bo,” point guard George Hill said following the game. “He’s been doing that his whole career.”
This isn’t the last career milestone Randolph will pass. He needs just 17 assists to hit 2000 for his career and if he continues to put up numbers, the 20,000 point plateau is within reach in a year or two.
Randolph leads by example on the court. He’s become a stabilizing factor for Sacramento and by all accounts, he’s quickly become one of the team’s leaders both in practice and in the locker room. So far, the investment in Z-Bo is paying off.