Yesterday the Grizzlies celebrated their 10th season in Memphis with a birthday party at FedEx Forum. From all that I’ve read about the party, it was very nice and some of the city’s dignitaries were in attendance to meet and greet the Grizzly faithful. According to an article in The Commercial Appeal, City Councilmen Harold Collins guaranteed 55 wins for the Grizzlies this season (it’s only appropriate that the guy making all the big promises was a politician). OK, now that you’re done laughing hysterically, let me share the good news about this team.
Let’s begin with the starters, Mike Conley, Jr., O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol, who are statistically one of the most productive starting units in the league. These five guys combine to score an average of 82.4 points a game (a league best) and have a front line that includes an all-star (Randolph) and three players over 6’9″. During the off season the Grizzlies made key free-agent acquisitions by picking up veteran defensive stopper and athlete, Tony Allen, and sharp shooting young point guard Acie Law. In addition to free-agents, the Grizzlies drafted the very talented rookie from Kansas, Xavier Henry, which a lot of folks in Memphis are expecting to have a huge impact. Oh, I need to shout out one more member of the Grizzly bench, lanky center/forward Hasheem Thabeet. If Thabeet can improve and pan out to be the shot blocking force he was at UConn, look out Western Conference because the Grizzlies could win 55 plus.
Now, of course, there is a little bad news that goes along with this young team. The very starting group that I highlighted in the previous paragraph has yet to win 50 games together much less 55. Also, that same crew has yet to make the post season and as we all know, to really be recognized you’ve got to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Being an equal opportunity bad news dude, it’s only fair to point out a few negatives about the Grizzly bench. Last season the second unit only averaged 20 points a game, a league worst, which broken down further is an average of 4 points per player. With the exception of Law and Allen, the Grizzlies will pretty much have the same bench this season. We’ll find out this season if the old cliche, “both winning and losing are contagious” is really true.
UPDATE: At the end of the 3rd quarter of tonight’s preseason game, The Grizzlies trail the Pacers 69 to 64. Rudy Gay leads the way for Memphis with 12 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist.
About the Author
Written by Jason Lee
Born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia, I've been a sports fan probably since I was about 9 years old! A 2002 graduate of Mount Union College (Alliance, OH), I've had the opportunity to cover some great high school football on the radio in both Ohio (working with WHBC in Canton) and in West Virginia (I currently work with Bristol Broadcasting in Charleston). I also keep an on-line journal/blogs on my own website.