Gasol, Randolph and Conley will once again lead the way for the Grizzlies…
The Memphis Grizzlies will rely on experience and familiarity again this season and as usual will likely be a contender come the end of the season.
As has become a tradition of the Western Conference, the Grizzlies continue to be competitive despite the lack of an out-and-out superstar. Having finished the regular season with a 50-32 record, they pushed out the Phoenix Suns by two games as the playoff race went down to the wire.
Unfortunately, despite troubling them at times, they came across the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs and were defeated which ended their season prematurely.
Nevertheless, first-year Coach David Joerger kept to the principles that had made the Grizzlies successful under Lionel Hollins and he will be expected to continue in that vein this coming year.
Defense and roster familiarity will be key to Memphis success this season
While Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combine to make one of the best center-forward pairings in the league, Mike Conley also emerged as more than just a solid point guard last season.
Add Tony Allen’s defense to the mix and the Grizzlies had the tightest defense in the entire Western Conference by allowing just 94.6 points per game.
However, they were 27th in the league in scoring and ultimately that will be their problem again this year which continues to put intense pressure on their ability to limit the opposition.
The acquisition of veteran guard-forward Vince Carter will help, but whether it will be enough to ensure that Memphis can compete, particularly in the post-season if they make it that far, remains to be seen.
Gasol (14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds), Randolph (17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds) and Conley (17.2 points and 6.0 assists) will hold the key to how far the Grizzlies go, as they will need to put up significant points on a nightly basis in order to compliment the overall staunch defense that the team plays.
Tayshaun Prince appears to be the biggest weak link in the starting five and the bench isn’t much to shout about. As a result it doesn’t look as if the Grizzlies have done enough in the off-season to really build on last season and take steps forward to improve.
However, that is arguably the assessment given ahead of the last few seasons and they continue to be in the post-season picture. As a result, don’t rule them out as they will be determined to emerge as a contender again.
The Grizzlies are relentless on the defensive end and they will be like that all season long. Many believe that is the base on which a team can win a championship, but ultimately there has to be doubts over their scoring ability to be a legitimate contender, particularly over a seven-game series in the post-season.
The Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Mavericks, Rockets and Suns will all be involved in the top eight and it is possible that there will be a few other teams involved in the race for the final few playoff spots in the West this year.
Ultimately, that will be where the Grizzlies find themselves at the business end of the season, and while they will perhaps worry a few teams along the way, a first or second exit in the playoffs is likely to be as far as they go.
PG: Mike Conley
SG: Tony Allen
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Marc Gasol