There’s plenty of excitement in the NBA as the league prepares to restart the 2019-2020 season in Orlando. There’s plenty of optimism with the Grizzlies, who are seemingly completely healthy in Orlando preparing to wrap up the regular season as they try and hold onto the 8th seed in the Western Conference. The time off due to COVID-19 has allowed the team to get recharged and ready to go later this month.
Grizzly Bear Blues has also “recharged” heading into the NBA restart by hiring 4 new writers to the staff, as well as another podcast. Eric Nelson, Bryce Hayes, Leanna Ritter and Jesse Cinquini join as GBB staff writers while the “Let’s Be Real” podcast (@lbrsports901) hosted by Parish Sharkey, Skyler Clayton, Tevin McInnis, Trevor Shipp and Rashad Riley gives GBB a 4th podcast on the SB Nation podcast network. An already loaded staff just got that much stronger.
Yesterday we got to know a little bit about each new hire and why they love the Grizzlies. Now let’s see who their favorite Grizzlies are.
1. What makes you most excited about this Grizzlies team?
Eric Nelson (@EricTweetsNBA): All the way from the front office down through the coaching staff and the players, everyone is young, talented, and has something to prove. The team not only plays well together, but they play for each other and have fun while doing it.
Bryce Hayes (@nxtprodigy): There’s a lot of things to be excited about with the Memphis Grizzlies from top to bottom as we have Front Office putting the team in a position to win, a staff that’s great at player development & a great young core beginning to form in #GrzNxtGen
Leanna Ritter (@leannaritter_): I am most excited to see Ja Morant lead us to a ring. Next question.
Jesse Cinquini (@CinquiniJesse): The Grizzlies youth is what excites me most about this current group. Sitting at the eighth seed in the Western Conference, Memphis is already a quality team — but they have only scratched the surface of their full potential. Morant and Jackson Jr., the team’s building blocks, are both just 20 years old. Other members of their core such as Dillon Brooks (24) and Brandon Clarke (23) certainly have their best basketball ahead of them. Imagine how dangerous this squad will be in three to five years once all these young studs near their prime.
Parish Sharkey (@DaOne_PShark): The youth and fun playing style
Tevin McInnis (@TevShakir): I am most excited about our youth, yet instant chemistry. Having a young team that just loves to play basketball, and most importantly love playing with each other, could only result in greatness.
Trevor Shipp (@TheArtofTrevor): The new Big 3 of Ja, Jaren, and Brandon Clarke makes me excited because they’re on the verge of creating something special here and they embrace the city as well.
Rashad Riley (@ItsReallySheedy): The amount of young talent on this team makes me excited about this Grizzlies team. I, really my son, recorded 10 or so games and we periodically watch them from time to time. All of these games span from after the All-Star break. What I love about this team is that even when they are going against opponents that others may cringe with, this Grizzlies team fights for 48 minutes without the big names. I stated on the podcast, and I still feel this way, that if the playoffs were in a regular format (not in Orlando) that the Grizzlies would steal at least one home game from the Lakers or Clippers.”
2. Who is your favorite all-time Grizzly
Eric Nelson: My favorite all-time Grizzly is Mike Conley. His balanced and composed approach to the game was always something that I admired and he has always been underappreciated league-wide.
Bryce Hayes: Tie between Zach Randolph, Tony Allen & Jason Williams
Leanna Ritter: My favorite all time Grizz player is Tony Allen. 8 days a week.
Jesse Cinquini: Tony Allen’s relentless on-ball defense coupled with the overall intensity he played with is what makes him my favorite Grizzly of all time. There’s a reason why the great Kobe Bryant named Allen the toughest defender he ever went up against. Tony was one of the NBA’s top-flight defenders during his seven seasons with Memphis, as he averaged 1.7 steals per game as a Grizzly. His ability to lock up the league’s best despite his unspectacular length never ceased to amaze me. There is no doubt I will be glued to the television screen once Allen’s jersey finally heads to the rafters of FedExForum.
Parish Sharkey: Bonzi Wells. I loved his tenacity from before he joined the Grizzlies in his Portland days.
Skylar Clayton: My all-time favorite Grizzly is Mike Conley. He never said much but was the most important Grizzly before, during, and after their playoff runs.
Tevin McInnis: Although he dropped 50 points on me in an Intramural Rec game at the U of M, my favorite Grizzly of All-Time is Damon Stoudamire.
Trevor Shipp: Favorite all time Grizzly is Zach Randolph. First player to really embrace what the city of Memphis is about in my opinion.
Rashad Riley: My favorite all-time Grizzlies player is Zach Randolph. I admire him so much because he had, and probably still has, a complete low-post game. He could take you off the block, he could fade-away, he could reset and drive, etc. He didn’t back down from any defender. He was also consistently on the boards for us despite his height and athleticism. He knew the art of rebounding and timing and it showed day in and out.
3. Who is your favorite Grizzly on the current roster?
Eric Nelson: My favorite Grizzly on the current roster is Ja Morant. He is flashy and fun but at the same time he is a very good floor general and is already able to read the game at an elite level. He has superstar potential and I’m very excited to see his progression.
Bryce Hayes: Ja Morant.
Leanna Ritter: Point God Ja Morant.
Jesse Cinquini: This was an exceedingly difficult decision to make. There’s so much to like about the Grizzlies’ roster. But I am going with Ja Morant on this one. He put together one of the best rookie campaigns in modern NBA history. The fact that Memphis improved so drastically this season with him as floor general proves he is a special talent. A generational talent. Mark my words, this kid is going to take home an MVP trophy one day.
Parish Sharkey: Ja Morant. I will never forget the excitement I felt when the Grizzlies got the #2 pick.
Skylar Clayton: Ja Morant. He reminds me of my all-time favorite player in Kobe Bryant. He doesn’t take plays off and works his butt off.
Tevin McInnis: My current favorite Grizzly is Ja “ROY” Morant, with JV being a close second.
Trevor Shipp: Without a question, my favorite current Grizzly is the ROY Ja Morant.
Rashad Riley: How could you not be a fan of Ja right now? He’s my favorite player on the team and “this close” to being my favorite player in the league. My unorthodox pick, however, is Justice Winslow. (I am a fan of the Miami Heat by the way). I believe Justice has a lot to prove and many years ahead of him. He has been tied down with injuries yet I’m looking forward to him having a break out year next season when he is healthy. He is also a great defender which many don’t discuss.
Huge thanks to the new group for taking the time to answer some questions. Be on the lookout for their upcoming work with GBB!