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With a healthy Rudy Gay (far left), the Grizzlies will look to ride on the success of their latest playoff run.
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

StatsCube: Lockdown Grizzlies growing up before our eyes

Posted Dec 2 2011 7:04AM

To get ready for the 2011-12 season, StatsCube breaks down the critical numbers for all 30 teams.

The Memphis Grizzlies were the feel-good story of the 2010-11 season, reaching the playoffs for the first time in five years and reaching the conference semifinals for the first time in their 16-year history.


To keep moving forward, the Grizzlies must re-sign restricted free agent Marc Gasol, who helped them dominate the paint last season. They must also improve their perimeter shooting, which has been holding them back offensively.

2010-11 Basics
Pace: 94.5 (15)
OffRtg: 104.4 (16)
DefRtg: 102.5 (8)
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions

Only one team improved defensively from the previous season more than the Grizzlies -- the Bulls. They added ex-Celtics assistant and eventual Coach of the Year winner Tom Thibodeau. Another Boston export, Tony Allen, was the Grizzlies' big addition in the summer of 2010.

Most improved defenses
Team 2009-10 Rank 2010-11 Rank Diff
Chicago 102.6 10 97.4 1 -5.2
Memphis 107.6 24 102.5 8 -5.1
Philadelphia 107.6 23 102.5 10 -5.1
New Orleans 107.3 22 102.5 9 -4.8
Boston 101.1 5 97.8 2 -3.3

The area where the Grizzlies improved most defensively was forcing turnovers. In 2009-10, they ranked 20th, forcing 14.7 turnovers per 100 possessions. Last season, they led the league by forcing 17.5 per 100.

Allen deserves a great deal of the credit for the turnover increase. He led the league in steals per minute by a large margin, and when he was on the floor, the Grizzlies forced 19.8 turnovers and allowed just 98.9 points per 100 possessions.

Most steals per 36 minutes
Tony Allen 1,494 129 3.11
Corey Brewer 1,511 100 2.38
Chris Paul 2,880 188 2.35
Rajon Rondo 2,527 153 2.18
Ronnie Brewer 1,781 106 2.14
Minimum 750 minutes

The Grizzlies also improved in defending 2-pointers. In 2009-10, they ranked 28th by allowing their opponents to shoot 51.7 percent from inside the arc. Last season, they ranked 14th, with their opponents shooting just 48.6 percent from 2-point range.

Third-year forward Darrell Arthur, who played more than three times as many minutes as he did the previous season, was a key on the interior. Opponents shot just 47.4 percent from 2-point range and scored just 99.0 points per 100 possessions when Arthur was on the floor.

When Allen and Arthur were on the floor together, the Grizzlies allowed just 96.7 points per 100 possessions. But they were a minus-32 in those 525 minutes, because both were offensive liabilities.

No Rudy, no problem

When Rudy Gay injured his shoulder in the final game before the All-Star break, the Grizzlies' offense ranked 19th in the league (103.0 points scored per 100 possessions). But without Gay, they had the 10th-best offense after the break (107.8).

No player saw a significant increase in usage rate in Gay's absence, but the Grizzlies' frontline of Zach Randolph and Gasol deserves a lot of the credit for the post-break offensive improvement. Both were more efficient scorers in the final two months.

Frontline shooting, before and after break
Marc Gasol 247 478 51.7% 57.5% 117 213 54.9% 59.1%
Zach Randolph 418 862 48.5% 53.3% 180 326 55.2% 60.1%
Total 665 1,340 49.6% 54.8% 297 539 55.1% 59.7%
BB = Before break
AB = After break
TS% = Points / (2*(FGA + (0.44*FTA)))

Gasol also decreased his turnover rate from 13.3 per 100 possessions before the break to 10.6 after it. Mike Conley's individual efficiency was down after the break, but the Grizzlies were excellent offensively (110.6 points scored per 100 possessions) when he was on the floor.

Paint dominance

All season long, the Grizzlies were a paint-heavy offensive team. They took 56.8 percent of their shots and scored 51.4 percent of their points from inside the paint. Both of those numbers were, by far, the highest rate in the league.

Paint shooting
Team FGM FGA FG% Rank %FGA Rank %PTS(PITP) Rank
Memphis 2,107 3,861 54.6% 17 56.8% 1 51.4% 1
L.A. Clippers 1,867 3,358 55.6% 9 50.9% 2 46.2% 2
Charlotte 1,685 3,165 53.2% 22 49.7% 3 44.1% 5
Sacramento 1,848 3,464 53.3% 21 49.6% 4 45.3% 4
Toronto 1,851 3,344 55.4% 12 49.5% 5 45.6% 3
%FGA = Percentage of total field goal attempts
%PTS(PITP) = Percentage of total points that came from the paint

The Grizzlies outscored their opponents in the paint by 11.3 points per 100 possessions. That differential was almost twice as big as any other team in the league. The Bulls ranked second, outscoring their opponents in the paint by 6.2 points per 100 possessions.

The Grizzlies weren't so strong from the perimeter. They ranked 24th, making just 37.2 percent of their shots from outside the paint. Plus, only 13.6 percent of their shots came from 3-point range, easily the lowest rate in the league.

The Grizzlies had five players -- Allen, Conley, O.J. Mayo, Randolph and Greivis Vasquez -- who attempted at least 100 shots from outside the paint and shot them at below the league average of 38.3 percent. Among the NBA's 272 players who attempted at least 100 shots from outside the paint, only two shot them worse than Allen, who was 28-for-103 (27.2 percent).

That means it's probably a mistake to think that Gay is expendable because the Grizzlies reached the conference semifinals without him. Gay shot 40.2 percent from outside the paint and clearly improved defensively last season. In fact, among the Grizzlies' 29 two-man combinations that played at least 400 minutes together, Allen and Gay had the best numbers, with Memphis allowing less than 94 points per 100 possessions when they teamed up on the wings.

Pace: 92.6 (6)
Offense: 101.7 (7)
Defense: 104.0 (10)

The San Antonio Spurs had the No. 2 offense in the regular season, but the Grizzlies were able to shut them down to pull off a first-round upset. The Grizz held the Spurs to less than a point per possession in four of the six games.

The Spurs were the best 3-point shooting team in the regular season, making 39.7 percent of those shots. But Memphis defended them well from the outside and San Antonio shot 32-for-109 (29.4 percent) from 3-point range in the series.

The Grizzlies' defense finally broke down in the conference semifinals, though they took the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games. In their four losses, the Grizzlies allowed the Thunder to score more than 114 points per 100 possessions.

Memphis' offense wasn't much better, barely scoring a point per possession in the series. The lineup that Lionel Hollins started for the first five games of the series -- Conley, Allen, Sam Young, Randolph and Gasol - was downright putrid offensively. With Mayo instead of Young at the two (the lineup that started Games 6 and 7), they were much better.

Memphis lineups in conference semifinals
Lineup GP MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Conley, Mayo, Allen, Randolph, Gasol 7 71 93.6 110.3 99.2 +11.0 +14
Conley, Young, Allen, Randolph, Gasol 5 61 89.5 81.2 91.2 -9.9 -5
Conley, Mayo, Battier, Randolph, Gasol 7 49 86.8 130.2 109.3 +20.9 +28
Other 7 174 94.7 95.2 114.4 -19.1 -65

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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