MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: SCOUTING REPORT
Clippers.com talked about the opening round series rematch against the Memphis Grizzlies with two Western Conference front office executives and an NBA scout. Here’s a look at what they expect to see from the Grizzlies, including some information that was gathered prior to last year’s series and is still applicable.
Mike Conley, PG (6-1, 185). “He’s lightning quick,” the first executive said… “He’s developing a very good spot-up 3-point shot,” he added. “He has the ability to shoot now, coming off the pick-and-roll to get his jumper.”… Conley shot 39.4% on attempts beyond 15 feet this season, but made 36.1% of his 3-pointers… The second executive said, “He’s one of the best point-guard defenders in the league. He baits bigs into not seeing him coming and digs down on them. It’s more freelancing almost.”… Conley finished among the league leaders in total steals (174) and steals per game (2.2)… “He has a terrific nose for the ball,” the second executive said… The first executive added: “He has good hands, causes deflections and is quick enough to beat you to spots” adding that Conley is “difficult to screen” because of he’s so fleet afoot… Conley, whose father is a former Olympian, ran the 40-yard dash in a reported 4.5 seconds as a freshman in high school, according to the Washington Post…
Tony Allen, SG (6-4, 213). The second executive believes that “the face of the defense is Tony Allen. He can impact games on the defensive end of the floor [the way most players do offensively].”… “He’s a blue-collar basketball player,” the first executive said. “’Grit and Grind?’ He fits that to a ‘T.’”… The first executive added, “He hounds you, he’s strong, a good athlete and quick. He causes a lot of problems defensively.”… The scout called Allen, who has twice been an All-Defensive Team member (2010 and 2011), “the heart and soul of the team.”… Offensively, the first executive says, Allen is “an exceptional cutter” and “crashes the glass.”… Allen averaged 1.5 offensive rebounds in 79 games this year, first among NBA guards… “You turn your back on him and he’s never where you left him,” the first executive added… He made 10 of his 19 shots inside of 6-feet against the Clippers in 2012-13…
Tayshaun Prince, SF (6-9, 215). “When they made that trade for him, my first thought was, ‘Wow, now they have two long, legit perimeter defenders,” the first executive said, referring to the pairing of Prince with Allen… Prince was acquired from the Pistons in a three-way trade that sent Rudy Gay to Toronto… “He’s a champion,” the first executive added. “Those Pistons teams he was on that went to the Finals were two of the best defensive teams you’ll ever see in this league.”… The first executive called Prince a “great fit” saying he can do a number of things offensively such as post up, handle the ball, run pick-and-roll action and shoot the ball from the perimeter… Prince shot 40.4% on the season from 3-point range, but just 36.6% while with the Grizzlies… In his two games against the Clippers as a member of the Grizzlies, Prince has scored a team-high 19 points in the first quarter…
Zach Randolph, PF (6-9, 255). The scout used the word “terrific” to describe Randolph as a one-on-one player in the post… The first executive agreed saying, “He’s a beast in the post. He’s a beast to box out. You can have him boxed out and he’ll still get the offensive board.”… “He’s a pretty complete player,” the first executive said. “He can face up, shoot it, and has two or three go-to moves.”… Randolph was one of seven players in the NBA to average a double-double (15.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game)… “The skills he knows offensively: angles, leverage, that stuff, carries over to the defensive end,” the first executive said. “He’s a strong guy. He’s a challenge on both ends.”… Randolph came off the bench for most of the regular season last year, but started in the playoffs against the Clippers. He went just 6-of-25 in Game 1 and 7 combined…
Marc Gasol, C (7-1, 265). All three people agreed that Gasol and Randolph make up the best high-low tandem in the NBA… “When he gets the basketball in the high post, he’s like a quarterback,” the first executive said… Gasol averaged 4.0 assists per game, second on the team. He and his brother, Pau, are the only two 7-footers to average four or more assists in a season since Vlade Divac in 2003-04… The second executive said, “He has a phenomenal skill set for a guy his size.”… According to the second executive they still run high screen-and-roll to get the ball into the post… The first executive said that Gasol has “adopted the identity of the team and the city. Remember, he grew up in Memphis. This is his second home. He fits that mentality.”… Gasol has won two silver medals as an Olympian with Spain, has been to one All-Star game and three-straight seasons in the playoffs…
KEY BENCH PLAYER
Jerryd Bayless, G (6-3, 200). “He can attack and get to the line,” the first executive said… Bayless shot 2.5 free throws per 36 minutes this year and is an 83.6% shooter from the line… “Leave him open behind the arc and he’ll hit the 3-ball,” the first executive added… “He kind of keeps you on your heels,” the second executive said. “He’s a little powerhouse.”… The first executive added that Bayless can help Conley get off the ball because he is essentially a second point guard on the floor when they’re in the game together… The Grizzlies’ offense scores 110.2 points per 100 possessions when the duo is in the backcourt at the same time. However, they allow 100 points per 100 possessions defensively.
NOTES ON RESERVES
The Grizzlies bench looks different than it did a year ago. In addition to Bayless, here are some rapid-fire notes about the other reserves, according to the first executive.
Quincy Pondexter: “You have to always know where he is.”
Darrell Arthur: “He can hit a jumper from the high post.”
Ed Davis: “He gives them toughness. He’s played well since the trade.”
Keyon Dooling: “He’s another ball-handler and provides depth.”
FINAL NOTES ON MEMPHIS
“When you have those two bigs, why would you want to speed it up?” the first executive asked. “But they will turn you over and get out in transition.”… “The thing about this team is they have multiple personalities,” the second executive said. “They can get out in transition because of their defense and are effective in the half court.”… “If they can’t get you in transition they’ll pull it out and post you up,” the first executive added… The Grizzlies played at the second slowest pace in the league (91.1 possessions per game). They were also second in defensive efficiency rating (97.4), third in opponent field goal percentage (43.5%) and ninth in points off turnovers (17.3).
“They’re the same team,” the first executive said when asked if they were all that different from years past. “They won 56 games in the Western Conference. You don’t need to change that formula.”
A LOOK BACK AT THE SEASON SERIES
It was part of the season-ending seven-game winning streak for the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 12 rebounds and blocked a floater by Conley in the waning seconds. Blake Griffin tipped away an entry pass by Conley that Matt Barnes caught and the Clippers prevailed for the fourth time in their last six games in Memphis. Gasol had 18 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, but the Clippers won the game when the bench plus Chris Paul put together a 14-0 run near the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The only win in the season series for Memphis came at Staples Center thanks to a suffocating second-half defensive performance. The two teams were separated by mere percentage points in the standings but the Clippers could not prevail despite the best scoring effort of their four regular season meetings by Paul, who had 24 points and nine assists. Blake Griffin added 22 points, six rebounds and five assists but it wasn’t enough to counter Gasol’s 21 or a Grizzlies defense that held the Clippers to 33 points in the second half.
The Clippers held the Grizzlies to one of their worst offensive performances in franchise history, forcing Memphis to shoot 30.3% and score a season-low 73 points. It was the first game for the Clippers on a three-game road trip and first of what would be 12 without Paul, who bruised his kneecap the game before. Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford scored 16 points each.
The season-opening matchup was a carryover from the teams’ dramatic seven-game series the year before. But Crawford scored a game-high 29 points, including sealing the game with a steal and a layup that was goal-tended by Bayless in the final minute. Paul had 11 points and 12 rebounds and Eric Bledsoe chipped in 13 off the bench. Randolph and Gasol combined for 23 rebounds.