As repetitive as it may be, it has to said that in spite of a win, it's concerning that the Grizzlies once again barely beat an inferior opponent. It's especially frustrating that Memphis only won by 4 considering that Monta Ellis, the Bucks' best scorer, went 2-12 for 8 points. Admittedly, Drew Gooden and Ersan Ilyasova both dropped 20 points, but I can live with that when we limit the rest of the team (Note: Brandon Jennings also scored 24, but it was so inefficient that it actually worked in our favor). Once again, the Grizzlies didn't dominate this game because they couldn't put the ball in the basket. O.J. Mayo, Zach Randolph, and Quincy Pondexter had nice offensive outings and that's it. More than anything else, Mike Conley was sorely missed for his ability to create turnovers and push the ball in transition.
The problem with these wins is that we're past the point of accepting any win now that Zach Randolph has returned. Prior to his return, we were satisfied with grinding on defense and doing just enough on offense. However, Zach's presence was supposed to open up the floor and create easy scoring opportunities for everyone. Needless to say, that hasn't been the case. Personally, I don't want to call out Zach because he's played well in limited minutes and this is team-wide failure, but if Memphis is truly serious about making a deep playoff run, they must improve their offense. We will see improvement as Randolph continues to get back into game shape, but in reality, the Grizzlies need at least one other player to step up their level of production.
The most obvious candidate for improvement would be Rudy Gay. There's not much hope that to happen. As Jay Caspian Kang wrote at Grantland yesterday:
Which brings us to a familiar but frustrating conclusion, at least for Grizzlies fans: Memphis could be a perennial contender to make the NBA Finals if Rudy Gay would just play up to his $15 million per year contract. The problem, of course, is that Rudy Gay will most likely not do that. He, perhaps more than any other superstar talent in the league, seems completely comfortable with who he is as a basketball player.
Go read the rest of the article. It's truly a must-read for any Grizzlies fan. Unfortunately, Kang is spot-on here. Even though I'm Rudy's biggest defender here at SOV, I'll admit that A) he's overpaid and B) he'll never become the elite scorer that we hoped he would become. I don't think it's from lack of effort, lack of motivation, lack of passion, or any of those other cliches that pundits love to latch onto (read: they're too lazy to come up with other explanations). Frankly, there just isn't much room for improvement on offense, unless you want him to really force things. My only wish is that he'd attempt fewer 3's, but even that isn't totally his fault as there's no one outside of him, O.J., and Mike is capable of making those shots on this team, and someone has to keep the defenses from packing in the post.
Ultimately, there is hope for the future. Kang points out that the Grizzlies are the only budding, young team in the West other than the Thunder and the Clippers. It's entirely, possible that Memphis simply outlives Dallas, San Antonio, and LAL. Or, if we could just get one solid perimeter shooter, everything would be alright. In the meantime, we're going to have more struggles on offense.