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Memphis Grizzlies

O.J. Mayo, Gasol lead the Grizzlies in 2010

Last season, the Memphis Grizzles just missed the playoffs after Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol started melding. Finishing with a 40-42 record, the Grizz have all the reason to believe that this will be the breakthrough season the team has been waiting for. They strengthened their frontcourt in the off season with the signing of Tony Allen, giving the team a solid bench.

The starting lineup of Gasol, Darrel Arthur, Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley should be enough to get them back into the playoffs but their bench play will determine how far they go

The Memphis Grizzlies have had an interesting time in the NBA since the joined as an expansion team in 1995. Then they were the Vancouver Grizzlies and while they were there the team didn’t do much of anything. During their six seasons north of the border the team had a combined record of 101-300 which is a very depressing winning percentage of .252, which means the team averaged three out of four games, would be a loss. In those seasons the team only experienced two, two game winning streaks. It’s normal for an expansion franchise to be bad for their first couple of seasons, but after the fourth straight season without twenty wins the bottom fell out. The city stopped caring and the Grizzlies blamed their lack of attendance on the city of Vancouver. The team made a good number of bad decisions, like paying Bryant “Big Country” Reeves $65 million over six years or drafting Steve Francis to see him demand a trade, and yet they still blamed it on the city and not the themselves not putting a good product out on the court that fans would like to see. In 2001, the team transplanted to Memphis, TN to play in the heart of the south. The team did the same thing they were doing in Vancouver and finished their first season with a 23-59 record. After the 2001-’02 season the team brought in Jerry West to be their General Manager and build them into a respectable team and eventually a NBA title contender. The team still failed to make the playoffs, but they showed signs of life after West brought in Hubie Brown to coach the team and had their first six game winning streak since joining the NBA.

Last season was the coming out party for the Grizzles and the reintroduction of Hubie Brown to the fans of the NBA. The team played like they had never played before in franchise history, good. The team finished the season with a 50-32 record, which was almost twice as good as the teams previous best record. Brown brought an old school feel to the Grizzlies and got the most out of the players he had by only having one player, Pau Gasol, average over 30 minutes a game. Brown turned them into a team and because of that he was given the Coach of the Year award for the second time in his career. The team earned their first postseason appearance and was rewarded with a first round match-up with the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs finished the season on an 11 game winning streak and had no intention of it ending there. The first two games in San Antonio were blowouts by the Spurs. In the first home game in Grizzlies history the team played inspired but lost when Mike Miller couldn’t get his three to fall and the Grizzlies lost game three 95-93 and eventually lost game four too. The team seemed to be happy with just getting into the playoffs; the fact that they were even there was a major accomplishment in itself.

In the off-season the Grizzlies put themselves in the Kobe Bryant sweepstakes hoping that Kobe’s ties to Jerry West and the young nucleus of players would be enough to bring Kobe to Memphis, but the Grizzlies efforts were all for none when Kobe elected to stay in Los Angeles and inked a deal with the Lakers. The team didn’t do much else in the off-season other than bring in hard nosed veteran Brian Cardinal. In the draft, West only had a single second round pick to play with and he drafted Ukraine power forward Sergei Lishouk. Lishouk goes 6’11” and 232 lbs. and can score from anywhere on the floor. Lishouk averaged 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in the FIBA Europe Cup.

The starting five won’t differ too much from the team that won 50 games last year which could be a good thing or a bad thing. At point guard will be Jason Williams, at shooting guard will be Mike Miller, at small forward will be James Posey, at power forward will be Pau Gasol and Lorenzen Wright will round the lineup out as the center. The starting five aren’t as important as they are on other teams. Brown will use every player exactly to how he thinks they can help the team out for that game.

With the lack of big time minutes to their starters, the Grizzlies put depend plenty on their deep bench. Backing up their guards are Bonzi Wells and Earl Watson. Behind their forwards are Shane Battier, who will play a “point forward” when asked, Brian Cardinal and Bo Outlaw. Behind the center are Stromile Swift and Jake Tsakalidis.

 
 

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