What a way to start a season.
The Memphis Grizzlies hold a 39-14 record as the All-Star Break comes nearly to a close. Even though our beloved Grizzlies do not get the second "half" of the season started until Sunday, let's take a look back on the year this has been and make some predictions for the rest of the season. Joining me to do so are GBB's very own Joe Witherwax, Kevin Yeung, Grace Baker, Joe Mullinax, Andrew Ford, and Craig Fielder.
1) Have the Grizzlies exceeded your expectations with their pre-All-Star record??
2) Which player(s) has had the biggest effect on that record??
Kevin Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Zach Randolph. Dunno who else – these guys have been incredible. Gasol’s defense has fallen off a touch, but only because he’s taken the reins of the offense and run with it. Conley and Z-Bo are chugging along effectively, with one carving up the paint and drilling the outside shot with newfound efficiency and the other the same old dominant manchild.
Grace I'd have to say Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley. Marc is having a career year overall and has really taken a new role on this team. However, Zach Randolph has been quite a surprise to me. His impact on the team's record is evident by that 4-5 stretch when he was injured. With Zach, the Grizzlies could be 43-10 right now. Z-Bo is averaging a double-double and his rainbow jumper was on fire when he came back from his injury. Mike Conley has carried this team on his shoulders countless times this season and hasn't been afraid to take the big shots.
3) Which player(s) needs to step it up in the second half??
Joe W. Vince Carter - this is not so much about the second half, but rather playoff time. By the time April and May (and hopefully June) roll around, I'd love to see 40% 3-point shooting Vince Carter back. As it is, he's struggling to hit 30% of anything. Hot-shooting VC can come off the bench and turn a 15 point deficit into a 3 or 4 point deficit in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, there have been far too few sightings thus far.
Kevin Because I still haven’t given up on this old dog, Vince Carter is a guy who I strongly believe can be better. Just last year, he was a lights-out marksman for the Dallas Mavericks. This season, he’s shot 30.6% on open 3s (open being with at least 4 feet of space between him and the nearest defender). Injuries have nagged him all season long, and I’m hoping the All-Star break can help him find some of that not-so-old magic.
Joe M. This is a bit of a cop out, but I am going to say any wing that is depended on for outside shooting. Jeff Green can be the main focus here; he was not brought in to be a three-point specialist, but his lack of touch from beyond the arc can certainly be a hindrance. This is especially true when the guys you depend on for that spacing, like Mike Conley and Courtney Lee, are struggling as well. In 16 games since Jeff Green has become a Grizzly, Memphis is shooting 29.4% from three-point range. Let that sink in...a 13-3 record while shooting an abysmal percentage from three-point land. If the wings can get the scoring from range going, it will open up the offense even more and allow for Green to play to his strengths more as a transition scorer and athlete at the rim.
Andrew Vince Carter has had a brutal season so far, and that has to change before the playoffs. The Grizzlies don't need him to be Vinsanity, but they do need him consistently knocking down threes in order to keep defenses honest. The question right now is, can the Grizzlies make the run they want to make with Conley, Courtney Lee, and Jeff Green as the Grizzlies' major three-point threats, or do they need more than that? Given the streakiness of Lee and Green, I'm inclined to say they need more perimeter shooting. I think another trade is unlikely, which means Vince will need to step up to help this team fulfill its potential.
Craig Vince Carter needs to step up when he returns from injury. We need him firing on all cylinders come playoff time. It'll be vital in the playoffs that we have someone who can come off the bench and hit the three when needed.
Matty B. I feel like we can't go an entire column here and not mention Jordan Adams, right? #jordanadamscomin
There...he was mentioned. The answer is Courtney Lee. L33zus does not need to be the guy he was at the start of the season, although it would be really nice. But he does need to...you know...shoot the ball...like every game.