Its officially All Star Break time for our Memphis Grizzlies. I feel pretty obligated to make a "seems like only yesterday the season was just starting, oh wait, it was only yesterday because the season is so condensed!" joke, but I just feel like we can be better than that. Nevertheless, we are indeed halfway through this season, and the Grizzlies find themselves at 19-15, currently good enough for 7th place in the Western Conference. At times, its been scary (I'm looking at you, Zach Randolph's knee), frustrating (I'm looking at you, offense) and down right annoying (I'm looking at you, Sean Tuohy). But that seems like the Grizzlies' way of doing things this year. Regardless of how it looks, just survive, and at the halfway point of the season, Memphis has survived rather well.
Brightest Spot: You can't start a conversation about the Grizzlies without talking about our All Star big man
Zach Randolph Marc Gasol. He was priority number one to re-sign in the offseason, and he's shown why early on. He's averaging career best numbers all across the board and was rewarded with his first trip to the All Star game. The big fella is sitting at 15 points, 10 boards, 3 assists, and 2.5 blocks a game, making him pound for pound one of the best centers in the league. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Marc is how well our offense runs through him. One of the big problems we've had this year is getting buckets on a consistent basis, but it seems like every time we slow things down, and run it through Gasol, we come up with at the very least a quality shot. We're going to rely on Zach and Rudy to do all the heavy scoring, but Marc's production will be the key in Memphis making another deep playoff run. The only knock on Gasol so far, is how hideous he looks in the Tams unis. But if that’s the only thing we have to complain about, I'd say he's having a heck of a year.
Biggest Disappointment: Initially, you probably wanna say Rudy. He's struggled mightily from the free throw line, hasn't really developed into the superstar we all know he's capable of being, and is directly responsible for the Memphis Tam throwbacks (although I must confess, I'm one of the only people in the world who likes them). But let's be honest, Without Rudy, we would be battling the Hornets for worst record in the league. I was also debating on whether to go with Sam Young here, but then I figured he hasn't really had the opportunity to disappoint so I can't choose him. Plus, I'm pretty sure he's dead, in fact I'm certain of it. No way Lionel would just banish him to the bench. He can't still be alive. There's no way...
The biggest disappointment for the Grizzlies this year has to be Josh Selby. When Memphis traded Greivis Vasquez, it left the back up point guard position in the hands of Selby and undrafted rookie Jeremy Pargo. Not much was expected of Pargo, but Selby was the steal of the draft. He was supposed to come in with a chip on his shoulder and prove all the other teams who passed on him wrong. Instead, he's currently in the D League working on his game. He'll need to drastically improve, because neither he nor Pargo have proved to be capable of giving Conley more than 5-7 minutes of rest every night.
Overall grade: B+ If you would have told me that we would be 4 games over .500 after that 3-6 start and losing ZBo, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. Things haven't been pretty thus far, but we've gritted and grinded and continued to survive. You'll hear a lot that we don't deserve to be where we are with how we've played so far this year, and I'll strongly disagree with that. A sign of a good team is winning games when they don't play their best basketball, and Memphis has done just that. We've gone through stretches where we were firing on all cylinders and have been more offensive than a Holocaust joke at a Chanukah party, and we've also gone on stretches where we couldn't stop anyone from scoring on one side of the ball, and couldn't throw a rock in a lake on the other side. But we've managed to win games playing both ways. While that may be nerve racking, it is good. Because most playoff games will come down to final buckets and who can overcome mistakes the most. The Grizzlies have proven they can do that. The scary part for everyone else is, we really haven't seen the Grizzlies at their best yet, at least not for more than a few quarters at a time.
There's still a lot of work to do. We've got to shore up the perimeter defense, and we've got to solve the back up point guard conundrum, and we've got to figure out how we are going to run things offensively once Zach returns, but we have put ourselves in a great position to make a run during the second half of the season. It’s not going to be easy, and if we've learned anything thus far, we know its probably not going to be pretty either. That's just simply the Grizzlies style of doing things. But the good thing about the NBA is, you don't get your wins based off style points, you get them by surviving, and that's the Grizzlies bread and butter.