GDHQNBA15_2pg-Memphis Grizzlies

Sacramento Kings Gameday HQ

WESTERN CONFERENCE SOUTHWEST DIVISION Memphis Year one of the Dave Joerger era saw the Grizzlies win 50 games and finish the regular season on a five-game winning streak as part of a 7-3 run over their final 10. And about the only negative last season was that was that Memphis fell in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs to Oklahoma City, this early exit coming one year after the Grizz made it to the 2013 Western Conference Finals. Sure, the Grizzlies took the Thunder to seven games, but that disappointment of losing in the first round stuck with every player during a long offseason. “You can just tell by everybody’s body language that they’ve been working hard and they’ve got something to prove,” forward Zach Randolph said. “I think our team that we’ve got now is one of the best teams since I’ve been in Memphis. I think we’re going to surprise some people.” DEFENSE As a team which prides itself on physicality and grit, defense is a huge part of the Grizzlies’ identity in the NBA, but also a big reason for their recent success, a formula Joerger hasn’t strayed from. No two players on their roster epitomize this mentality more than Gasol and Randolph. Not only are both of them unafraid to play physical, but this talented tandem considers the paint their domain and all who enter do so at their own peril. Memphis suffered on both ends of the floor during Gasol’s absence, but he was missed most on the defensive end. Randolph did what he could on his own but the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year is the anchor to the Grizzlies defense. Gasol is one of the best at protecting the rim, but it’s also his ability to defend the pick-and-roll and help out that separates him from the pack. Now that Gasol is healthy, that’s the best of news. Randolph might not be the staunch defender Gasol is, but he identifies with the team’s defensive mantra and he’s still a high-rate rebounder on both ends. Small forward Tayshaun Prince might be showing some age at 34, but he’s still a valuable defender. His length and mobility presents problems for perimeter players. He’s also no stranger to the teamoriented defensive approach (Prince played a similar role on a championship Pistons squad from a decade ago), making him an experienced cog on a defense. Before they get to the paint, opposing teams have to face Memphis’ defensive backcourt sieve. Noted stopper Tony Allen will again lock up the opposition’s most explosive guard on that end of the floor, while point guard Conley is an extremely underrated defender whose quickness nets him plenty of steals and ball pressure on counterparts. With most of last year’s team returning, continuity also figures to help Memphis on both ends of the floor. Having a year in Joerger’s system, knowing the concepts and what he expects within that system should lead to tangible results. “Things come a little bit easier when you’ve got four or five guys that have played together for multiple years. It makes it easier for the coaches. You don’t have to explain as much. Practices go smoother and it’s easier to implement a bit more,” Conley said. OFFENSE Memphis returns all four double-figure scorers (Conley, Gasol, Courtney Lee and Randolph) from a team that averaged 96.1 points per game last season, fourth-lowest in the NBA. The other member of their starting five, Prince, averaged a career-low six points per game and shot 29 percent from beyond the arc last season. But Prince, who was slowed by a preseason injury a year ago but still managed to play 76 games, is now healthy. “Yeah, I am as healthy as I’ve been in a while, but I think the most important thing is trying to Mike Conley Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty Images


Sacramento Kings Gameday HQ
To see the actual publication please follow the link above