Big Z Making Life EZ for Knicks

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: November 9, 2007

NEW YORK — All things considered, the New York Knicks can almost say that they’ve hit the Lottery. Well, if not the Lottery they certainly can boast that they’ve hit the jackpot with the Draft Day acquisition — more like coup — of their beastly power forward, Zach Randolph.

During the Lottery selection (for the NBA Draft), the Knick organization collectively held their breath praying that the Chicago Bulls, who had the right to swap first round picks courtesy of the Eddy Curry trade, wouldn’t win the rights to prize pick Greg Oden.

That honor went to the Portland Trailblazers. Once the Blazers knew they had the top pick the wheels were in motion to rid themselves of Randolph, who seemed to find as much trouble off the court as he gathered rebounds with reckless abandon on it.

In the end, it looks like the Knicks will owe the Blazers a measure of thanks for practically giving Randolph away. When you consider the fact that last season he averaged a career high 23 points and over 10 rebounds per game (the only one in the entire NBA to do such) and all they got in return was an outdated Steve Francis and a still developing Channing Frye.

Francis was speedily bought out of his contract and has since signed on with the Houston Rockets and is riding the bench. Frye is coming of the Blazers bench behind the immerging second year man, LaMarcus Aldridge. Oden, who sustained a knee injury over the summer, is out for the season following microfracture surgery.

Meanwhile back in New York, the Knicks must be clicking their heels. Because it’s been eons (if at all) since they’ve had a power forward with of this magnitude. Randolph is a far superior scorer than former Knick Charles Oakley and he’s just as good of a rebounder (if not better).

And Oakley was known to have a very decent 15-footer, but guess what, so does Randolph, as his shot sails high arching into the air and falls so delicately into the net.

He may not have the same raw and brute strength as Anthony Mason, but Mason couldn’t come close to Randolph’s indefensible low post moves; and they are both lefties.

Entering Friday’s game against Orlando, Randolph has become only the second Knick ever to record a double-double in the first three games of the season. The last person to accomplish this feat was Patrick Ewing in 1992.

For all of the talk regarding an adjustment period between behemoths Curry and Randolph sharing space and shots, it looks like each player is making the other look even better and rather quickly at that.

Curry seems to be engaging more intently on the defensive end. Head coach Isiah Thomas even alluded to the fact that you don’t often equate the word defense in describing Curry.

But, there he was during the very late stages of the fourth quarter of the Denver Nugget game asserting himself by blocking a shot and grabbing key rebounds in traffic and overall being a force.

He and Randolph also happened to genuinely like each other off the court as well. Barring an injury and if this keeps up, the Knicks can be on their way to having a very special season.