For all those who doubt Anthony Randolph, keep doubting. For all those who say he's too skinny, too raw, for the highest level of basketball, keep talking.
"It's motivation," Randolph said Tuesday. "People always have their opinions. I have so much to prove."
Randolph, the 14th overall pick in the draft last month, has captured the eyes of many at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. He sat out Tuesday's game against Charlotte because of a sprained left ankle, but not before he solidified himself as one of the best young players of the bunch at UNLV.
Hardly shy on confidence, Randolph relishes the chip on his shoulder, placed there by his doubters — a list that includes the 13 teams that passed him up in the draft.
The first two games, Randolph flashed his takeover ability, his guard-like skills and his competitive drive. His length and aggressiveness on offense make him tough to defend. And he oozes a certain moxie.
"He's a guy with tremendous upside," Detroit Pistons coach Michael Curry said. "He's going to be a skilled (power forward). He has good length, good timing defensively, a good calm demeanor."
That calm demeanor is a product of unwavering confidence, which Randolph admits he didn't always have. He said he used to be insecure about his height, having been "a giant" all his life.
On the court is where Randolph developed his self-esteem. When he was in the eighth grade, Randolph — a Pasadena native who went to high school in Dallas — played pick-up games at the famous UCLA open gyms, where he faced off against L.A. ballers such as Paul Pierce. He remembers not faring too well, but just being on the court was a boost.
It's been all uphill ever since.
"He's a baller," Warriors assistant coach Keith Smart said. "A real baller."
Along the way, he's been met constantly with reservations, and his confidence turned those slights into fuel.
He's heard the knocks about his lack of weight (at 6-foot-10, 197 pounds, it's hard not to think). Yet he dominated the Southeastern Conference, where he unabashedly confesses to guarding bigger, stronger players such as Florida's Maurice Speights and Alabama's Richard Hendrix.
He's heard about how Warriors coach Don Nelson doesn't play rookies, and he could spend this season on the bench. Yet he's already got it fixed in his mind that if he prepares and is ready, Nelson can't help but play him.
He's heard the concerns about his game being too raw, about him being too inexperienced for the NBA. Yet he is now an official member of the league.
Randolph signed his rookie contract with the Warriors on Tuesday, his 19th birthday. As is standard, he signed for 20 percent (the maximum) above the rookie scale, which guarantees him $1.7 million this season and $1.8 million next season. The last two years in the deal are team options and would pay Randolph nearly $5 million more.
"Best birthday present ever," Randolph said. "By far."
Go ahead. Say he isn't worth the money. Say he slipped down to the Warriors in the draft for a reason. Say he can't handle the expectations of a lottery pick. Say he's too light in the rear to play power forward, too lanky to stay on the perimeter, too weak to play defense.
"When people tell me I can't do something," he explained, "I take that personal."
Contact Marcus Thompson II at firstname.lastname@example.org.