SPOILER ALERT…this blog does not feature a Rudy Gay trade proposal.
In: rookie Tony Wroten…..Wayne Ellington, Jerryd Bayless, D.J. Kennedy, Flip Murray, Ronald Dupree…Darrell Arthur (missed last season w/ knee injury).
Out: O.J. Mayo (DAL), Dante Cunningham (MIN), Gilbert Arenas, Lester Hudson
PG Mike Conley Jerryd Bayless, Josh Selby
SG Wayne Ellington Tony Allen, Tony Wroten (r), Flip Murray
SF Rudy Gay Quincy Pondexter, Ronald Dupree
PF Zach Randolph Mareese Speights, Darrell Arthur
C Marc Gasol Hamed Haddadi
Offseason Recap: Shortly after licking their wounds from the 1st rd loss to the Clippers, Grizz management kept a cool head as they went to work tweaking their roster. There would be no crazy Rudy Gay or Zach Randolph rumors this offseason (well, maybe just one). The decision to not bring back free agent O.J. Mayo wasn’t surprising to either party. Mayo was relegated to back-up PG most of last season, not a good look for either him or the team. In my opinion, trading Dante Cunningham to Minnesota for shooting guard Wayne Ellington was one of the silent coupes of the offseason. This team, after striking out on Ray Allen, was able to still get a younger version while only costing them an extra frontcourt player (where there’s a logjam, anyways). Adding rookie scorer Tony Wroten and experienced back-up PG Jerryd Bayless allowed the team to fill in the rest of the perimeter rotation in a very cost-effective manner. Keeping ‘bigman’ Mareese Speights was huge as he proved that he was worth every penny while Zach Randolph was out. Lastly, the team also gets another ‘big’ back in the form of Darrell Arthur. He missed the entire 2011-12 campaign following knee surgery. Unfortunately Arthur will miss the first month of the season with a leg injury. Regardless, it was a very solid summer for GM Chris Wallace and head coach Lionel Hollins.
Strengths: Despite the healthy and productive return of Rudy Gay last season, the strength of this team is still their inside play. In the new NBA of 1 big n’ 4 smalls, Memphis features one of the better PF-C tandems in the league. This group also has the strength of being battle-tested in the playoffs the past two years. I also see a few training camp battles brewing that’ll only help this team get stronger: first ‘big’ off the bench (Speights vs. Arthur), back-up PG (Bayless vs Selby), and the SG minutes (Ellington the shooter, Allen the defender, Wroten the scoring rookie…and don’t forget camp invitee Flip Murray). The first week of October will definitely be spicy down in Memphis, and I ain’t talkin’ BBQ.
Weaknesses: As good as the chemistry of this group is it could take a turn for the worse. Part of the reason they lost to the Clippers in the playoffs was because down the stretch of games they weren’t sure whom to go to. Zach wasn’t healthy and Rudy was. Gasol, meanwhile, wasn’t utilized enough as Clipper center DeAndre Jordon rarely played in the 4th. This season, with both Rudy & Zach 100%, it’ll be interesting to see who’s team this will be. Shooting is also still a weakness for this group, even with the additions of Ellington and Wroten. What good is drawing double-teams if you don’t have knockdown shooters on the perimeter? This’ll be one of the keys to the season coming up.
Prediction: Two years ago, Rudy Gay missed the entire season with a shoulder injury…last season, Zach Randolph missed most of the campaign with a knee injury. According to my calculations, the 2012-13 season should be a very healthy and productive one for the Memphis Grizzlies.
You heard it here first…Wayne Ellington will start at SG this season (and it’s got nothing to do w/ Tony Allen’s knee rehab). This team needs a consistent catch n’ shoot threat more than they do Allen’s ball-hawking. Tony and his feisty energy are better suited coming off of the bench anyways (see the Boston Celtics 2008 Championship DVD).
This season will be a return to glory for the Grizzlies (relatively speaking) as I see them winning the Midwest Division over the likes of the Spurs and Mavs. Last year they took a step back and lost in the 1st round. This year they will get back to the 2nd round…but unfortunately face either the Lakers or the Thunder. I’m hoping for the former…assuming Pau Gasol is still in L.A. by then. I’ve been waiting two years for a Lakers-Grizzlies matchup in the playoffs…even before I proposed trading Pau for Rudy (ouch). Dwight’s muscle vs. Marc’s savvy…Zach’s physicality vs. Pau’s lack there of…Metta battling Rudy…Nash getting lost chasing Mike Conley…and Kobe, well, being Kobe. I think Quincy Pondexter is one of the better small forwards coming off the bench in the NBA…a position of weakness for the Lakers. If there’s a basketball god out there then this matchup will take place. Even if it doesn’t, ‘The Grindhouse’ will be bumpin’ this season…as the Memphis Grizzlies take a major step forward into contender status.