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Well, it seems to have come  sorta quickly (‘cuz it did), but here we are at the (roughly) halfway point of the season.

It’s been up and down, as one would expect, since the Griz lost last season’s main frontline sub before the season even started, and then the Griz’ best player goes down for an extended period within a few games of the opener (it’s perhaps arguable that Gasol has supplanted ZBo  as the Griz’ best player, but would he have had the chances he’s had if ZBo had been around thus far?).

Let’s look at how each player has fared, with a grade and a prediction for a trend for each:

Marc Gasol: Who didn’t see this coming? There are no adequate superlatives in the English lexicon to describe how important he’s been to the Grizzlies in Randolph’s absence. He’s had a couple bad shooting games, and a couple of turnover-ridden games (and stretches within games), gets WRONGED by  the zebras as regularly as any big man in the league…and has still been the rock-like center that is so desperately needed by every team who fancies itself as looking in from not-too-far at the contender’s lounge. Offensively, it’s pretty much impossible not to call him the best center in the NBA. Yep, he’s fairly floor-bound, but that’s ok-his passing, court awareness, clock awareness,ability to work with Conley at the top of the key, and shooting give him the most well-rounded game of any center currently in the NBA. MOST IMPORTANTLY, he shoots a REAL HOOK SHOT. It’s sweeping, and it’s actually got a bit of grace to it. Nothing graceful about the bullcharge from the block  to the center of the lane where  he releases said hook, but the true hook is somewhat of a lost art in the NBA, and it’s great to see it executed so well.Defensively, it’s all about being the “defensive PG”, which he does very well. The crazy blocks-per-game average? Gravy.

Grade: A+. Trend? More of the same, and the potential drop in minutes he could see when ZBo gets back will be huge for his freshness as playoff time comes.

Ok, now that we’re finished gushing over Gasol, we’ll look at this with a *tad* more formality:

Rudy Gay-Mr. Gay has performed very well, but still has yet to reach his full potential (hint, folks: where Rudy is is about where he’s gonna get, offense-wise). Mr. Gay’s defense has greatly improved-he has learned to let his length work for him while still not playing lazy, hand-reaching defense. When a player like Mr. Gay executes a smart defensive scheme along with maximizing his physical tools, he can be an extremely valuable perimeter stopper and helper. Mr. Gay, however, is vulnerable in the post-it is too easy for an opponent to get by him or shoot over him from closer range. Mr. Gay’s biggest problem is between his ears. His frustration, usually with himself or the officials, is his biggest roadblock to success.

Grade: B+. Trend: upward on offense, since ZBo will be back to attract attention.

Tony Allen: Nutty, hardworking, and unfiltered. Everyone’s kind of NBA player. Mr. Allen has continued to be an elite perimeter defender, able to seemingly guard an opponent’s entire backcourt on his own on a given possession. A player of unimpeachable defensive ability. Offensively, he’s managed to rein himself in (that’s not “reign” or “rain”, by the way) a bit, and has made better decisions in transition. Still has the hide-your-eyes thing going from time to time at the rim, but his ability and his contract make him perhaps the best salary value in the entire NBA. And don’t come to me with some Lin business.Mr. Allen is sometimes subject to early foul trouble from overzealousness, but he’s usually able to play right through it.

Grade: A. Trend: Continued barely-controlled insanity. And we love it, don’t we?

Mike Conley: Mr. Conley’s importance to the team is illustrated every time he comes out of the game. The change in him from his first two seasons to now is nothing short of astounding. The shrinking-violet version of Mr. Conley has basically disappeared-he’s been consistent, and his late-game free throws have saved a win or two for the team of late. Defensively? Mr. Conley leads the league in steals, and that, in and of itself, is amazing-but even more amazing is  that the Griz have three players in the top 20 in the NBA in steals. Testament to the backcourt’s belief in Hollins’ defensive ideas. Conley’s big weak spot this season? Too, too many poor shooting games. Great ast/TO ratio, great control of the team, however.

Grade: A- Trend: continued solid, and he’ll be as happy as anyone to see big #50 back to work setting up on that block.

Marreese Speights: He’s done very well filling the biggest pair of shoes on the team. Has not shown consistent effort on D, but has shown flashes of understanding how the passing lanes can be played close to the basket just as they can on the perimeter. Has  not been quite as dependably versatile as the Griz need him to be on offense-he’s lost the ball an inordinate number of times inside, and his 15-footer has not been as automatic as one might desire. However, the dropoff from ZBo to Speights has not been as precipitous  as some might have predicted.

Grade: B. Trend: Moving to the bench will do him a world of good-he’ll be the inside scoring focus (depending on who’s on the floor with him).

Dante Cunningham: Mr. Cunningham has been exactly what the Grizzlies need him to be-that proverbial “energy guy”. The application of that moniker is unwarranted many times that it’s used, but not in this case. This guy comes into the game on springs, has a nose for the ball, does NOT command or demand the ball on offense, and is a right-place-right-time rebounder. He’s gotten the Grizzlies extra possessions, and has played the 3/4 swing to the utmost of his abilities. You AIN’T gonna catch this guy purposefully slacking.

Grade: A+. Trend: His minutes will not significantly drop upon ZBo’s return.

Whoof. That’s enough for now-second half coming later this weekend.


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15 Responses to Memphis Grizzlies Midseason Grades and Assessment

  1. TonyNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with the grades for Marc, TA, and Conley, but I feel like the B+ for Rudy is being extremely generous. He has the physical tools to be a top-5 SF, but one could argue he’s playing like he’s barely in the top 10 (I think, in no particular order, that LeBron, Josh Smith, AI, Pierce, Melo, Deng, Durant, Wallace, and Gallinari have all been better) and he’s been a bit of a ball-stopper at times. Also, from arguing with officials, he hasn’t gotten back on defense some other times and that’s hurt us too.

    ALL THAT BEING SAID, the crazy notion from last year that we’re a better team without Rudy is, well, crazy. I think he’ll continue to get better as the year goes. Can’t wait for this team to start clicking after (well, probably a few games after because they’ll need to re-gel) Z-Bo gets back.

  2. choppasizzNo Gravatar says:

    I give wallace an F. We miss Vasquez so much it is mind boggling. Pargo and Selby belong in the D League. If we are going to make any sort of run we need a backup PG ASAP! Mr. Wallace if you are reading this, that means go get Calderon you bum!

    • TonyNo Gravatar says:

      I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again – does how good the Speights trade was make up for how poor the Vasquez trade was?

        • ACNo Gravatar says:

          I’m VERY worried that our point guard woes will cost us dearly in the playoffs. I’m surprised there hasn’t been much talk about this. Everybody is focused on Z-Bo, Z-Bo, Z-Bo and no one is seeing how pathetic our team is every time Pargo is in the game. We have no offensive flow. He looks lost most of the time. The Vasquez trade was really unnecessary in my opinion. I realize we were trying to get size to make up for losing 3 inside players (Hadadi wasn’t back from Iran yet), but it’s going to hurt us in the long run. All that being said, next year: Marc/Z-Bo with Speights/DA coming off the bench!! That front court is going to be demoralizing!

  3. EvanNo Gravatar says:

    Love the article, can’t wait to see the grades for our back-ups…

    Here’s how I see it…Gasol and Gay (at his best) are All-Stars. Their numbers prove it. Mike Conley is a great PG who will only get better over time, and I believe he has All-Star potential.

    Tony Allensanity! Really, really impressed with his game this year. Greatly stepped up his FT%, and has the highest 3PT% on the whole team (LOL)! Like you said, I still get nervous every time he runs into a 3-on-1, but he is the best guy on our team at drawing contact.

    What really surprises me:
    -Mo Speezy – 8.5p, 6.5r, 0.8a in 23 min/game
    -Dante the Inferno – 5p, 4.3r in 19 min/game

    These are GREAT 48-min numbers…I was really unsure of these pick-ups early, but I’m really appreciating their contributions to this team thus far. I’ll be interested to see who gets waived/traded upon ZBo’s return.

    Still bitter about the GV/QPon trade…
    -QPon – 4.1p, 2.0r in 14 min/game
    -Greivis – 8.5p, 2.4r, 4.8a, 1.2st in 24 min/game

    Can’t wait until All-Star weekend is over and we can get back to gridin’! Go Grizz!

  4. WTFNo Gravatar says:

    You guys obviously aren’t real analysts. These grades are terrible and only reflect those of a team homer. This dude gives out A’s like we have a team full of all-stars.
    Rudy Gay C-, plays bad just as much as he plays “good”, missed two game winning shots and we got lucky someone else was there to clean it up, he is a ball stopper, can’t dribble in traffic and turns the ball over too much, this grade is reflective of his contract and the performance he has given with it, if he had signed for less his grade would be higher, in the B range, but he is simply not living up to his contract and expectations.
    Tony Allen B, he is great on the defensive side but he is good for a bad turnover or two because of his wreckless dribbling. From a contract standpoint, he is a steal for the type of game he brings. Could be an A if he would settle down when he has the ball in his hands, and knock down the open mid range shots other teams are willing to give him.
    Conely B, good all around floor general. An above avg point guard.
    Marc Gasol is the only A on this team.
    Cunningham is a B-, yes he has played good as of late, but as a midyear review, we have to take the whole season in to account and he hasn’t been hitting the mid range jumpers that he gets wide open looks for. Maurice Speights B-, has good games and can shoot, but he is still a liability on defense, his best defense is taking charges. Is a lot better of a shooter in the 15-18 foot range than the author of this blog gives him credit for, he blows more put backs and lay-ups than he misses jump shots.

  5. JaredNo Gravatar says:

    Grade inflation runs a little rampant here. I’ve loved watching the team this year but, injuries not withstanding, I would find it difficult to assign 4 of the top 6 letter A grade for a team that is not much above .500. Yes, I understand the gravity of the Randolph injury and that they grades are given in light of that, but still.

    Marc Gasol – I do agree with this grade, he could well be the number one C in the league at this point in the year, he has saved the season with the zBo injury.

    Rudy Gay – I would lower this grade down to a B-, mainly just because we all know what potential this man has, and there has never been a time to fully live up to that potential than right now.

    Tony Allen – It would be hard to come up with many defenders much better than him. However, as you note, that does little to take away from how horrifically awful some of his work can be when he gets within 10 feet of the offensive basket. He hurts the team by not being a fully reliable option on O. On that alone, I’d put him at about a B+.

    Mike Conley – I like Conley and am very comfortable with him at the point. He is a good player and has been great on defense. However, we aren’t grading on a personal curve here and is definitely a true second tier PG and it is a stretch to even give him the A-, I’d give him somewhere around a solid B.

    Mo Speights – I have been extremely pleased with Speights, both just as a general player, but especially because of his value. I was in favor of moving for him before the injury and he became a necessity after. He has proven himself to be a solid PF and after the zBo’s return, we could possibly have the best 6 and 7 men in the league, along with Mayo. Giving him a little extra credit because of his value, I’d give him an A-.

  6. […] Gasol was selected by the league's coaches as an All-Star reserve for the Western Conference.Memphis Grizzlies Midseason Grades and Assessment3 Shades of […]

  7. JoshNo Gravatar says:

    Trade Rudy to njn for Morrow (shooting) Farmar (backup defensive minded pg) and Okur (expiring contract) and their 1st rounder. We get a lottery pick, salary relief, and fill a couple holes for the playoffs. They get a “star” to pair with Williams. Am I crazy for thinking this works?

  8. Grizzfan85No Gravatar says:

    I am upset about the Vasquez trade in the short term but long term Q Pon is a great team player and superb mid range shooter. Also with us trading Henry, Sam Young wasn’t going to be our starting shooting guard of the future with his broke shot. That being said, please draft a legit three point shooter who has done it for more than one year in college, Grizz!

  9. Grizzfan85No Gravatar says:


    If we trade Rudy Gay, we aren’t getting past the first round of the playoffs if we make it at all. Also this team would be going into tank mode if we do that. Heisley needs to pay the luxury and bring back everyone who is on the roster this year besides Sam Young who needs to be replaced by a three point specialist.

  10. Lookin4atitle2013No Gravatar says:

    Help…Sos.. need ACCURATE SHOOTERS A accurate 3pt would b great quicker guard amp up D improve coaching staff and front office!!!! do anybody heat me?

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