|2012-13 Team Rating|
|24th Overall||2nd Overall|
Stats through Jan. 22
On paper, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay make up the best frontline in the NBA. The trouble has been Gay's high salary and low shooting. Also Gasol's seen a dip in scoring and rebounding.
Mike Conley gets very little attention but has settled in nicely as quarterback. Tony Allen is still the one that wears the Grizzlies' defensive attitude on his sleeve every time he steps onto the floor.
Led by Allen, they're physical, aggressive and are second-best in opponents turnovers. Add that with the constant haranguing from coach Lionel Hollins and you get the No. 2 ranked defense.
Quincy Pondexter has the length and perhaps the defensive instincts to develop into another Allen-type on the wing and is also a fine 3-point shooter. Jerryd Bayless is solid backup at point.
It is incomprehensibly stupid that Lionel Hollins has not yet been given a new contract. New ownership definitely has its prerogatives, but this is the guy who's given the team real bite for the first time ever.
The old saying is that defense wins championships, and if the Larry O'Brien Trophy was awarded strictly on that end of the floor, the Grizzlies would be among the heavy favorites to take a champagne bath in June. Few teams in the league get in your face and will sink their teeth in like the Grizzlies.
The trouble is at the offensive end, where their problem is quite simple -- they can't shoot. The Grizzlies rank 29th in taking and making 3-pointers and have an overall field goal percentage that also ranks in the bottom third of the league.
This was a season when Gay was expected to break out and make a bid for his first All-Star Game, but instead he's having the worst shooting season of his career and has many speculating that he'll be traded. Randolph and Gasol have not been able to find the consistent scoring rhythm that carried the team in their coming-out party during the 2011 playoffs and that hurts as much as Gay's shortcomings.
The Grizzlies opened the season like a wildfire, burning away to a 12-2 record. But they've hit a wall and gone just 14-12 since. Now the new management team has everyone under a microscope.
The trade to unload Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby got the Grizzlies under the luxury tax threshold and says the core group is going to get one final chance together. If they don't reach at least the Western Conference finals, one or two stars -- and likely Hollins -- are gone. Talk about pressure.
-- Fran Blinebury
Explanation of Marking System
|Golden State Warriors||B+|
|Los Angeles Clippers||A-|
|Los Angeles Lakers||C-|
|New Orleans Hornets||C-|
|New York Knicks||A-|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||B-|
|San Antonio Spurs||B+|