The Grizzlies have 10 games remaining on the season 10 years in the making.
It will go down as one of the five best seasons in franchise history even if the team loses all 10 of their remaining games. That says a lot more about the history of this franchise than it does about this year’s team unfortunately.
Whether or not the Grizzlies do finish with the 4th, 3rd or possibly even the 2nd best record in franchise history is not important. The team ending the season wearing Memphis on their uniform will likely be remembered as one of if not the most talented squad the franchise has ever assembled and not just in Memphis.
How can I make such a statement? Well consider these interesting tidbits.
Zach Randolph will end the season averaging a double-double. He is only the 4th player in franchise history to play a full season and average a double-double. He most likely will end the season averaging over 20 points and 10 boards for the second consecutive season. No one else in the league can make that claim. Zach also was named the Player of theMonth for January, a first for the franchise.Zach is in the top 3 in rebounding in the league which would be the highest any Grizzlies player has finished in rebounding. His seasonal double-double average is his fifth consecutive, the second longest streak in the NBA currently (Dwight Howard has 7). Zach also set afranchise record with 14 consecutive double-doubles. He has seven 20-20 gamessince joining the Grizzlies which is two more than the team has produced by all other players combined since inception!Zach Randolph’s stats at the all-star break were the best of any all-star snub since Nate Thurmond.
Marc Gasol is the franchise’s all-time leader in FG%. Gasol leads the team in blocks as well this season averaging 1.6 bpg ranking him 14th in the league. Gasol also 2nd in the league in assists for centers in the league at 2.5 apg(behind Al Horford). Gasol had one of the most emotional games in franchise history when he came back a week early from a high ankle sprain to lead the Grizzlies to victory in Dallas on Oct. 29 with a double-double (10 pts and 15 rebounds).
Tony Allen should be listed as a first team All-NBA defensive team member. He may be passed over for the award by a player with more star power but no one can arguethat he isn’t deserving consideringhe’s ranked 6th in the league in steals per game despite averaging fewer than 20 minutes a night. His per 48 minutes number is the highest in the league since Nate McMillan in the 1993-94 season. Allen is one of only two players in the league averaging more than 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks a game this season (LeBron James is the other).
Mike Conley is a candidate for Most Improved Player in the league this season posting career highs in points (14.0), assists (6.6) and steals (1.77). Conley tiedhis ownteam record with 7 steals against Minnesota. Conley has improved hisFG% and 3 pt% as well. One writer recently named Conley tied for first place among all PG’s in the league under 24 with Russell Westbrook and ahead of Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings to name a few.
Rudy Gay was on pace to average20 ppg for only the second time in his career before a shoulder injury slowed him down. Gay will still finish the season withcareer highs in FG%, 3 pt%, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.Rudy may have been considered for most improved player on the team if not for Conley’s performance. More important than the numbers Rudy finally established himself as a end of game threat as exemplified bythis fans reaction in Toronto.
The Grizzlies bench has been very productive as well with Darrell Arthur and O J Mayo being the main contributors. Their contributions have allowed the franchise to average around 100 ppg this season. The addition of former Grizzlies Jason Williams and Shane Battier have been not only made things special for the home fans but also brought much needed experience to one of the youngest teams in the league.
So much for the individuals on the team, what about the team itself you may ask? After all Kevin Love has put up tremendous individual numbers but the team isn’t that great.
The team has been really entertaining. The Grizzlies lead the league with a 16-1 mark against teams playing the second night of a back to back series. The team is 16-0 when leading at halftime at home.
The offense has been solid. The Grizzlies lead the league in points in the paint for the second consecutive season averaging 50.1 pts in the paint a night. No other team is within four points of that mark over the last two years. The Grizzlies have outscored their opponents 19 consecutive games in the paint. That’s the longest streak since the turn of the century! Memphis is 9-6 against the top four teams in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies have won eight games this season when trailing by double digits in the second half. That figure ranks 3rd in the NBA this season behind only Utah and Chicago. The Grizzlies are 19-0 when leading at halftime this season meaning the Grizzlies don’t let teams back into games very often either. What’s more the Grizzlies are a league best 16-1 against teams playing a back to back series. They don’t show mercy to teams.
The team is tough. They have played 17 games decided by three points or less, a league high, and are 9-8 in those games. Since the new year the team is 9-6 against the top 4 teams in the Western Conference
The improvement in defense is what makes this team special. The Grizzlies lead the league in steals, forced turovers, steal differential and are second in the league in points off of turnovers. They have held 42 teams under 100 pts this season. 13 more times than all of last season and the Grizzlies have done this without slowing the game down to a snail’s pace like previous Grizzlies teams have done. And the defense has led to wins. The Grizzlies are 31-12 in games where they have held their opponent under 100 pts.
So with 10 games to play in the 10th season in Memphis why not spend 10 seconds of your time and tell me what you think?