Found November 20, 2012 on
Los Angeles Clippers
Coming into this NBA season, estimations of what the Memphis Grizzlies could do as a team were set right about where they always are: They will be a good team, but not a great team. Their stars will play consistently good basketball, but not play like superstars. Along with that, the team will finish in the upper half of the Western Conference, but nowhere near the very top.
After an electric 8-2 start, fans, critics and opposing teams from around the league are taking notice of this franchise.
Built on a reputation of being bigger and more physical than most other teams, Memphis is dominating the battle-of-the-boards and the paint area on a nightly basis. They are led by the frontcourt duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, both of whom are playing at an extremely high level.
Randolph currently leads the league in rebounding and Gasol has found a remarkable passing touch that is allowing for their perimeter players to contribute more effectively. Without even mentioning arguably their best player, it is already easy to see why the Grizzlies are having a great season thus far.
Rudy Gay is the third member of the Grizzlies frontcourt playing alongside Randolph and Gasol. There is not a player in the NBA right now who is playing with more poise and exuding more confidence than him.
For a few years, Gay seemed to have faded into relative mediocrity and was all but forgotten in discussions of the best players in the NBA. Now, still only 26 years old, he is leading his team in averaging 19.8 points per game while shooting 42-percent from-the-field.
He has reintroduced his team to what it means to be in division and conference contention with his elite level of play in these first few weeks of the season.
No less important has been the play of Mike Conley and Tony Allen, the starting backcourt for the Grizzlies.
Conley has always been considered to be a talented, young guard with tremendous upside, but has never really met these expectations. In the first 10 games of the season, he has done nothing but prove that he can run this team while still producing at above average levels for the point guard position.
Allen has always had a reputation as a defensive-stopper and with a nose for the ball. He regularly defends the opponents’ best perimeter player, and more often than not holds, them to minimal numbers. His work is invaluable to this team and he is a big contributor to the team’s success.
The bench play has also been better than expected for the Grizzlies. Wayne Ellington has been a pleasant surprise and dazzled in the team’s win over the Miami Heat this past week, as he put up 25 points off-the-bench.
Quincy Pondexter and Jerryd Bayless are consistent players and are thriving in their roles on this second unit. Along with that, Marreese Speights gives them the size they need to keep or extend a lead while the starters catch their breath. Having an effective bench is just as important as having elite level starters in the NBA.
If I were to pinpoint one specific reason why the Grizzlies are dominating their opponents so handily, I would have to go with the match-up problems Randolph and Gasol cause other teams to have. There are very few teams that possess two big men as skilled and as polished as these two.
One could argue that the pairing of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers that would do well against the Grizzlies frontcourt (and they very well could) but in the end, Randolph is a superior rebounder and is much more experienced in the low post, while Gasol is a big enough body to disrupt the athleticism that the Clippers have in that pairing.
Many duos and even trios around the league could challenge the Memphis frontcourt, but none will be able to keep up with the style of play they are bringing to each game.
All signs point toward this team continuing their trend of improved basketball and dominant game-play. They are a great team, their stars are playing like superstars and they will finish near the very top of the Western Conference, if not in the top spot.
Finally, a team living up to everyone’s expectations for them. For the sake of great competition, let’s hope they can keep it up for the length of the regular season and into the playoffs.
The post Are the Grizzlies the Best Team in the NBA? appeared first on FootBasket.
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Full story at Bob's Blitz ~ http://www.bobsblitz.com
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