All Star selections for the Grizz have been few and far between since the team transferred to the Bluff City. There have been a total of four selections in the Memphis Grizzlies' history: Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, and Zach Randolph (twice). This year, Memphis could very well have multiple players selected, but let's first examine how some of Memphis' starters compare to the other elite players in the stacked Western Conference.
Many feel Mike Conley was snubbed in last year's All Star game, and Mike has made it clear that he wants to be viewed as an All Star point guard. This year, he's averaging 17.8 points, 6.3 assists, 3 rebounds, and has a PER of 21.37. Conley is fantastic at the free throw line with 84.8% shooting. He's helped to lead the Grizzlies to a franchise best 19-4. And while he continues to be solid in all areas, both defensively and offensively, Conley is still lacking the title of All Star. Let's see how he stacks up against some of the West's top point guards:
Damian Lillard- While averaging 20.3 points, 5 rebounds, and 6.1 assists, Lillard has pushed his team to an impressive 18-6 record. When Lillard and Conley last squared off, Lillard racked up 20 points to go along with 9 assists, while Conley had an even more impressive 21 points, 9 assists, and 10 rebounds. Lillard is an extremely "clutch" player. I mean, just check out these highlights:
The thing is, so is Conley. In the last 3 minutes of a game, Mike Conley has an offensive rating of 120 and a defensive rating of 90.2. On the other hand, Damian has an offensive rating of 107.2 and a defensive rating of 82.9 during that same span of time. Let's take a look at an example of Conley's "clutch" abilities:
Stephen Curry- Leading the team with the best record in the West is Steph Curry, who is also having an extremely impressive year as he is putting up 23.2 points per game on 48.5% shooting from the field. The Warriors are on a 15 game winning streak and play the Grizzlies on Tuesday, so it will be interesting to see whether Conley or Curry rises above the other. From the free throw line, he's nearly automatic at 92% shooting. However, his assists have dipped down a bit this season as he's averaging 7.7 assists in comparison to last year, in which he averaged 8.5. Curry has been hot beyond the arc all season, making 65 triples this season so far. Most of his shots are threes, while Conley's shots tend more towards jumpers 4-16 feet out.
Chris Paul- The Clippers struggled early in the season but recently went on a 9 game winning streak before getting it snapped by the Wizards on Friday. Paul has appeared at seven All Star games in his career. This season, he's shooting the ball generally at a highly efficient rate, and dishing out almost 10 assists per game. Paul is averaging 3.5 more assists than Conley, but Mike is shooting the 3 ball more efficiently than Paul (44.9 compared to 37.2%). The two players' stats in PPG are nearly identical at just under 18 for both.
Tony Parker-With a modest 16 PPG and 5.3 assists, Parker doesn't at first appear to be playing at an All Star year pace. However, as a four-time NBA champion, Parker knows what it takes to win. Parker has been dealing with some hamstring issues, and Coach Pop has never hesitated to rest his players, so Parker has been out four games this season. His health and planned rests could definitely play factors in him not going to the All Star game in 2015.
Russell Westbrook-After missing a huge chunk of games, Russell Westbrook is back in full swing, averaging 25.6 PPG this season, along with 6.7 assists and an impressive 5.6 rebounds. He has a PER of 31.79. His team's melancholy record could play a factor, but Westbrook continues to put up All Star numbers this season. Let's see if he keeps it up, and let's see if his team's record improves.
Entering this season, most Grizzlies fans, and even the players, knew that Marc was going to have a career year. Free agency is approaching this summer, and a second All Star appearance for Big Spain would further solidify his dominance in the league. He's averaging career numbers in points with 19.4, and grabbing 7.8 boards a night. Plus, he's putting up 1.7 blocks per game. He's even in the MVP conversation. All of his stats are on the rise this season:
Now, here's how he compares to his peers:
Dwight Howard-In his limited game time, Howard has averaged an impressive 19.5 points per game, 2.4 blocks, and 11.5 rebounds. However, Dwight was out for 11 games straight, although he just returned on Saturday against the Nuggets. An eight time All Star, Howard started out in Orlando and now is trying to lead the Rockets to a championship after failing to get past the first round in the playoffs two years in a row. Almost all of his shots are around the rim, and he's shooting a pitiful 46.2% from the free throw line. Marc passes Dwight in both of these areas, as Marc has a much broader range of shooting and shoots above 80% from the line.
Tim Duncan-The player that remains ageless. Duncan has been in the league 18 seasons and been an All Star 14 times. The Spurs have had the Grizzlies' number for a while, and Tim Duncan is part of the reason why. He helps to shut Zach Randolph down every game against Memphis and continues to put up solid numbers with 14.7 PPG and 10.9 rebounds. He has a reliable jump shot and great length for playing under the goal. He's averaging just over 2 blocks per game, too. However, though his points per game stat is nice, it's not as impressive as what Marc Gasol is averaging, which is over 19 PPG.
Serge Ibaka- While Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are viewed as the duo of the Grizzlies, Russel Westbrook and Kevin Durant are viewed as OKC's duo. And Serge Ibaka is the third wheel. With 14.8 PPG and 7 rebounds, he's having another good year, nut not an All Star one. However, he's shooting over 80% from the line and over 36% from three. Marc has him beat with much bigger numbers overall...and a much better team record.
DeMarcus Cousins-"Boogie" Cousins is having perhaps the best season of his career so far, putting up 23.5 points and 12.6 rebounds a night. And while the Kings are sitting just below five hundred, Cousins continues to put up career numbers, and makes a strong case for being included on the 2015 All Star team. The Grizzlies have beaten the Kings in both contests this season so far, but Cousins was out the second game. He's been out 9 games with illness. For the sake of his team and his All Star hopes, Cousins needs to return with the strong numbers he's been putting up so far. His PPG and RPG are up this year:
At age 33, Zach Randolph has passed the prime of his career. However, he continues to grab double-doubles regularly, as he has 13 already this season. His defense has improved, he is averaging an astounding 11 rebounds, and he is managing to still score 16.2 PPG. Nevertheless, Z-Bo has some tough competition in the Power Forward realm. Let's take a look at his competition more closely:
Blake Griffin- While some of his numbers are slightly down from last year, Griffin is having another impressive season, averaging 22.7 PPG and 7.3 rebounds. He has a wide range of shooting, as he takes 38% of his shots from 16-23 out. He averages less than a block per game, however, and has a defensive rating of 107 (per 100 possessions), while Zach Randolph has a defensive rating of 99. The two players have a very similar offensive rating, as Blake has a 111 rating and Z-Bo has a 109 rating. These two have quite a history together, and Zach tends to get on the better end more often than not.
Kenneth Faried-In his fourth season in the NBA, Faried is averaging 11 PPG and 6.6 rebounds. He's young and athletic, but his team sits under .500. His team's record needs to improve, and he needs to increase his PPG to have a good chance at making a trip to New York.
Dirk Nowitzki-Though he's 36 years old, Dirk continues to excel in the league with 19 points a game, 2.3 assists, and 5.7 rebounds. A destined Hall of Fame player, Dirk has been to the All Star game 12 times in his legendary career, and another trip to New York wouldn't be the least bit surprising.
LaMarcus Aldridge-Aldridge is leading the Trailblazers through another impressive start this season alongside Damian Lillard, and putting up fantastic numbers: 22.2 PPG, 10 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Zach Randolph has always squared off with Aldridge pretty well, however. In their last match up, which resulted in a Grizzlies win, Aldridge has 19 points to go along with 2 blocks and 10 rebounds. Randolph, on the other hand, had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Zach always plays his best against his former team, too. Aldridge had more range than Randolph, as he shoots 41% of his shots 16-23 feet out. Randolph shoots 73% of his shots 4-16 feet away.
Anthony Davis-He's young. He's athletic. He's "The Brow". Anthony Davis is putting up tremendous stats this year, including 24.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks. While the Pelicans had the Grizzlies' number last year for the most part, the Grizzlies were able to take down New Orleans in their last matchup. Zach had 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Davis had only 14 and 8. Nevertheless, he's having an amazing year. But will his team's record be a detriment to his All Star hopes?
Overall, I expect two Memphis Grizzlies to go to New York in February. Marc is having a career year, Zach continues to stack up well against his opponents, and Mike Conley still feels he is owed an All Star title that was stolen from him last season. Over the past few years, the Grizzlies have stocked up on talent. Now, they're putting their investments to good use as the Grizzlies are off to a fast start and look like a legitimate contender in the West.