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So, the style that made the Grizzlies so tough has become outdated.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.
Spot on. By mid season it will be obvious to everyone including the Grizzlies, that it’s time to blow up most of this roster. Lot of talent, but not the right mix to be a playoff team in the west unless they can get a hold of a time machine.
You’re not wrong Steiny.They desperately need scorers and spacing bad.
Gasol and Randolph Take up too much room and allow for easy doubles and ball swipes.
The Grizz were super fortunate that Warriors weren’t on their A-B game last night offensively.
Alex, That team is not even close to a fourth seed. 6-8 and a first round exit
I think the Grizzlies already righted the ship. When they pull Gasol out of the low post and put him at the top of the key, he can hit those shots all day long and it pulls out the other team’s big, giving Randolph more room to move in the low block. Their guards are in a shooting slump, but we all know Conley is too good to consistently go 1 for 12. Also, old guys take a few games to get going. So While I don’t see them as the powerhouse they were a few years ago, they are still a very good team and will make the playoffs probably as the fourth seed
Definitely in trouble. ESPN has projected a decline for Gasol and Conley going forward, the latter being a smaller PG. I don’t think Gasol’s game will age well at all and he’ll continue to lose effectiveness rapidly as his lateral movement decreases.
Their offense is severely lacking in space and without Randolph/Conley scoring at an above average clip, everything grinds to a halt. It seems like a painful rebuild is in order for Memphis. How tradeable is Gasol? How much can Randolph get on the trade market? Unlikely that Jeff Green will yield much. The Chalmers trade is desperation move, one that likely won’t do much.
It was a good run while it lasted