In spite of last night's loss against the Rockets and the recent strew of nail-biters, fans can't help but feel fairly proud of the Memphis Grizzlies this season. When the cornerstone of our franchise, Zach Randolph, went down over two months ago, my hope was that the Grizzlies could tread water and stay at or close to .500. Although there have been some bad loses and a lot of ugly wins, overall I feel that this team has overachieved and generally played fairly well. That being said, there are several legitimate concerns about this team and many of the them were reinforced last night.
One of the main reasons that Memphis has excelled this season is because we play fairly good defensive and create turnovers that lead to easy buckets. In the halfcourt offense, we're considerably less intimidating, but Marc Gasol can usually score in the post or find guys cutting to the basket for a dunk or lay-in. As a team, the Grizzlies are excellent at finding opportunities at the rim and converting those into buckets. The problem is that 3 feet in, we're incredibly inconsistent. For reference, here's a quick list of last night's shooting breakdown (via HoopData)
At Rim: 23-31
3-9 Feet: 2-8
10-15 feet: 7-15
16-23 feet: 3-12
3 point: 3-13
Now compare that to the entire season and you see what I mean: outside of the rim, we are all over the place. Then again, it also makes sense. Think about the composition of this team: Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo, Tony Allen, Marc Gasol, Dante Cunningham, Quincy Pondexter, Marreese Speights. Outside of maybe OJ, do any of those guys sound like consistent shooters to you? No, they're not. On the other hand, they're also just good enough shooters that teams have to respect them. In a way, I think Rudy is symbolic of this team's shooting ability as a whole: sometimes he'll get hot and knock down those contested jumpers (what I refer to as "Black Mamba shots") at a stunning rate. Other times, he can't buy a jump shot.
In any case, there is some good news. For the most part, OJ has been a great scorer off the bench for us. He was 3-12 last night, but will probably bounce back tonight against the 76ers. Further, once Zach returns, you're going to see those 3-15 feet percentages climb up. Additionally, his presence alone will open up the offensive and create better spacing for other guys, in which case they might have more success knocking down those jumpers. Finally, remember this: as much as the Grizzlies inconsistent shooting worries me, I'd rather have a team that gets by points in the paint and does just enough everywhere else than the other way around.