ESPN 2013 NBA Player Rankings #1-100: The Memphis Grizzlies' Core

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

As ESPN finishes their top rankings for 2013, we will take a look at where the Grizzlies and other notables land on the list.

  • Tony Allen - #67 (down from #66) I can't argue too much over a one notch drop from last year. TA remains an elite perimeter defender with a mercurial presence on offense. Considering his age and other shortcomings, I think #67 is a fair placement, however, if Tony is able to take fewer jump shots, shave off a few turnovers per game and be more selective with his personal fouls, I could see myself making an argument for TA as a top 50 player.
  • Zach Randolph - #35 (down from #34) Another one ranking drop from an aging player that has maxed out his ceiling. By now, we all know what ZBo needs to do better fit the Grizzlies scheme going into the Joerger era, and if Zach can stay healthy this year he could very well end up with another All-Star berth. Randolph looks to be in great shape and still retains his impressive toolbox of post moves that should keep things open for shooters on the outside.
  • Mike Conley - #32 (up from #65) Four years ago I'd never thought that a #32 ranking for Conley could be seen as a lowball, but as we enter the 2013-14 season, there's little doubt in my mind that Conley still has room to grow in regards to stature and clout in the NBA. Conley's immense athleticism is supplemented by his keen intellect as a player and a person. He is an elite defender, a savvy passer, he looks like he's finishing stronger at the rim this year and he's got the moxie to take some of the big shots that the Grizzlies will need this season.
  • Marc Gasol - #10 (up from #24) Finally, what so many of us were saying last year is now in print somewhere. Marc Gasol is a top 10 NBA player, and possesses one of the most well rounded skill sets in the game. He's the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and is primed to continue racking up the accolades as the Grizzlies look to cement themselves as championship contenders. It's really awesome to see Gasol garner this level of attention, especially considering the transformation he has gone through in the past 5 years in Memphis. Our beloved "Burrito Boy" is now known as one of the best basketball players on the planet, and rightfully so.

Overall take: The Grizzlies may never be at the forefront of NBA hype, but we're beginning to see some of the effects of their recent success in national recognition (I believe this is the first time the Griz have ever had a top 10 player). The rise of Conley and Gasol is something that Griz ownership banked on and correctly predicted. Balancing their young, budding stars with veteran stalwarts like Randolph and Tony Allen, this Grizzlies core is far more potent than the one that featured Rudy Gay as it's leading scorer last year. In other words, things are going according to plan, and we fans are reaping the benefits.

Other notables:

  • O.J. Mayo - #91 (down from #90) Oh, OJ. Much like Conley, except the exact opposite, 5 years ago I would not have predicted Mayo to be sitting stationary on an NBA player ranking list. OJ might end up being the Vince Young of the NBA, all the talent in the world, but his personality and working relationships may keep him from ever realizing his potential.
  • Manu Ginobili - #86 (down from #25) Finally. That's all I really have to say about that.
  • Kyle Lowry - #78 (down from #51) A great player, but it's funny to think that there used to be legitimate discussion over Mike Conley and Lowry and which player was better suited for the Grizzlies.
  • Rudy Gay - #55 (down from #32) Ha ha. We're either about to watch Rudy continue to plummet down this list, or his offseason eye surgery is going to ignite his career and leave some people in Memphis scratching their heads. I honestly don't care either way.
  • Pau Gasol - #29 (down from #15) *Cue joke about the Grizzlies trading him for Marc in 2008*

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