Every once in a while I think I’m going to do this thing called: “Tell me why I’m wrong.”
Let’s say I have an opinion on something, like I do right now with the Memphis Grizzlies. I’ll tell you what I think; you tell me why I’m wrong — if you think I am.
Here goes: I think the Memphis Grizzlies have trouble brewing … long term trouble brewing. After watching them a few times this season, and in particular two losses to the Warriors, it feels like Memphis’ window is not only shut, it’s boarded up with plywood and plastered with caution tape.
The Grizzlies are now 3-6, but it feels worse. And, yes, I remember the Grizzlies started 10-15 two years ago and wound up winning 50 games. But that was a long two years ago. Take a look at their core roster right now. Zach Randolph is 34, Tony Allen is 33, Marc Gasol is 30 and Mike Conley is 28. That’s an aging nucleus in any league. But perhaps worse, the Grizzlies are an offensively challenged team in an era where you have to be able to score to compete with the elite teams.
And scoring is a monster issue for them. For one, they don’t shoot 3-pointers well at all, which should be a prerequisite in this day and age. Second, because they’re built to utilize Randolph so much in the low post, they’re forced to consistently go to him despite the fact he’s getting up there and becoming less effective.
So, the style that made the Grizzlies so tough has become outdated. But not only must they cling to it, they must cling to it despite knowing they’ve gotten worse at it — because as good as Randolph is he’s not as good as he was a few years ago.
Gasol is a terrific player, and he’ll be around for a while. But at his foundation, he is not a scorer. Yes, he’s going to get you some points, but he’s far more of an all-around player than a scorer and he’d prefer to score getting help from others and not doing it on his own.
The point here is that Randolph has gotten up in age. And while Gasol is damn good, he’s simply not as skilled offensively as Randolph nor does he have Randolph’s scoring mentality. We all know how much of an offensive liability Allen is, and Conley is among the purest of the pure point guards in the NBA, which means he’s not a big scorer. In short, even if Randolph and Gasol operated at peak efficiency, it’s still not going to be enough to consistently make up for this team’s awful perimeter shooting.
Things seem to only get worse from there. You take a look at this roster outside that core and what are you really left with? What do you see here to get you excited? Courtney Lee is a nice role player, OK. Jeff Green? Matt Barnes? Vince Carter? Brandan Wright?
Not saying those are bad players, just saying we pretty much know what they are — and none of them are getting better this point in their careers. JaMychal Green and Russ Smith are probably two young players the Grizzlies’ front office is high on. But how much can you expect from them, not just now but down the line? Are they future starters or role players? That we’re asking that question probably ensures that neither of them will become cornerstones.
It’s possible that the Grizzlies will get their stuff together and get back into the upper-tier Western Conference mix. But it doesn’t seem likely. It’s also possible that the Grizzlies have a plan, a strategy to transition both in age and in style, but that would figure to take a minute, as they say.
Yep, I think the Grizzlies are in some trouble. Tell me why I’m wrong.
*** Here’s a link to my podcast on ITUNES. It’s called the Sal and Steiny Podcast. CLICK HERE.