Memphis, Tennessee a city of what I like to call “Blue Collar Glamour”. Sure they have all of the Beautiful Lights on Beale Street but make no mistake about it this is a Blue Collar town. The Memphis Grizzlies play very close to Beale Street and people seem to be paying more attention to them and for great reason they are 9-2 sitting right atop the Western conference. it’s a great time around the FedEx forum these days and the Grindhouse is rocking on the regular. So with a 9-2 start and wins over the Heat, Thunder, Lakers and Knicks how good is this Memphis team? Well let me tell you they are all that and a bag of chips.
Many people may not recognize this fact but the Memphis Grizzlies coming into this season are the only team returning the same 5 starters for the 3rd consecutive season.
When you look at this starting five It all starts with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph the best frontcourt in basketball. They are the identity of the Grizzlies they can beat you up in side they both can stretch the defense with 15 ft jump shots. Randolph is not your Blake Griffin type power forward that can jump out of the building, he plays below the rim and does just as good if not better then anyone else in the league using body positioning and instincts to rebound the basketball as opposed to athleticism. Marc Gasol who I truthfully believe is better then his Brother of the Lakers Pau is a top 5 center in this league posses many different skills to beat you out on the hardwood. He is tough and backs down to nobody, has great touch around the rim and hits floaters as well as hook shots in the lane But above all else is his passing. Having Marc Gasol on your team is like having an extra point guard on the floor his interior passing along with his jumpshot forces teams to double him which frees up the perimeter for Memphis Shooters like Wayne Ellington and Mike Conley as well as open the lane for athletic wing Players like Rudy Gay. So the Memphis frontcourt is as good as it gets in the NBA.
The rest of the starting line up contains guys like Rudy Gay, Tony Allen and point guard Mike Conley. Rudy Gay has always had the talent to be an elite small forward in this league and finally looks like he is beginning to put it together you can make the argument that he is the best player Memphis has. For the 1st time he and Randolph have been healthy at the same time so now we are beginning to see how good this team can really be. Rudy Gay can guard any player at the small forward position and is more then capable of guarding the power forward position. Tony Allen really brings that “Grindhouse” Mentality out at the shooting guard position. He isn’t going to drop 30 on you but he will guard your best player and make they’re lives a living hell for 4 quarters. Tony Allen is regarded as one of the best defenders in the NBA. To round out the starting 5 you have Mike Conley at point guard who Is one the most under valued players in the league to me. He is a very solid point guard can penetrate the middle of the floor and knows how to share the basketball but offense is hardly why myself or any NBA scout is impressed with when it comes to Conley. It is his defense and Ability to deflect and take away the ball from other players that impress people, he has really turned in to a good player.
So the Grizzlies starting lineup is good right? Well the Bench is also pretty darn good. Jarryd Bayless, Quincy Pondexter, Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights are not sexy names to NBA Fans but these guys produce. They are the perfect guys to come off the bench for this team. Guys like Ellington and Pondexter are good 3 point shooters who bring it on defense night in and night out. Bayless in his 1st year gives Memphis a reliable floor general to spell Conley when they bring him off the bench which is something they have needed for years in Memphis. Speights brings a combination of toughness and skill at 6-10 he is able to play the power forward or center position, Stretch the defense and rebound. The Memphis bench is not to be taken lightly
So these guys know how to play basketball but more importantly they know how to win. Last year with Randolph not being 100% in the playoffs I picked Memphis to win the west and they wound up losing to the Clippers in the 1st round. This year is no different I picked Memphis and Miami in the Finals last year and I’ll do it again. The Memphis Grizzlies will win the west. Good ball Movement, Defensive intensity, Deep Bench and 2 low post presences I’ll take my chances Memphis.