|2011-12 Team Rating|
|24th Overall||10th Overall|
Stats through Feb. 16
When Zach Randolph tore right knee, it could have sunk the Grizzlies. But Marc Gasol responded like an All-Star, Rudy Gay stepped up his game and Marreese Speights is coming on. They're battling.
With all the talk about Gasol and Gay for the All-Star Game, it could be argued that point guard Mike Conley deserved a mention of some love. Tony Allen puts the Grrrrr in Grizzlies.
They create turnovers, force steals, get out in transition and hold opponents below 100 points better than any other team in the league. It's the defensive identity carved into them by coach Lionel Hollins that has them surviving.
O.J. Mayo is now adapting as the backup point guard, but it doesn't look like a long-term solution. While the injury to Z-Bo got most of the attention, losing Darrell Arthur for the season was just as crippling.
If Lionel Hollins found a winning lottery ticket in his birthday cake, he'd probably complain that it was covered in icing. He's demanding, driving and, just as much as Tony Allen, responsible for the grit and grind of the Grizzlies.
After their breakthrough for the first playoff series win in franchise history last spring, beating the top-seeded Spurs, this was supposed to be the season the Grizzlies took off. But Darrell Arthur went down and was lost for the year. Then Zach Randolph tore the MCL in his right knee and suddenly the Memphis blues were back in vogue.
Without Z-Bo, the Grizzlies simply don't have that powerful 1-2 punch with Marc Gasol that could score in the lower post and make defenses vulnerable to the other positions on the court. Without Arthur flying in off the bench to grab rebounds and get put-back buckets, they no longer have the depth to play flat-out and keep the pressure on for the full 48 minutes.
Even with Gasol toiling nightly and Rudy Gay stepping up his game a level, the Grizzlies simply don't have enough offense to keep pace on many nights. When Tony Allen is out all over the floor wreaking havoc and making plays, the defense has teeth. But until and unless Randolph can make a complete return, the Grizzlies are just treading water in the deep Western Conference race and will likely find themselves in the now familiar position of trying to scramble desperately for another No. 8 seed in the playoffs. That is, if they can manage to make it at all.
-- Fran Blinebury
Explanation of Marking System
|Golden State Warriors||C-|
|Los Angeles Clippers||B|
|Los Angeles Lakers||B-|
|New Jersey Nets||D|
|New Orleans Hornets||F|
|New York Knicks||C+|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||B-|
|San Antonio Spurs||A|