What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 1. Memphis Grizzlies

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  12-2,  first place Southwest Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)
  • Points Scored: 100.7 (7th)
  • Points Allowed: 92.8 (4th)
  • Team FG%: .445 (14th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: 438 (11th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.5 (16th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 39.7 (4th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.3 (8th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 16.5 (7th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of November 30th)
  • Scoring (ppg): Rudy Gay (20.1)
  • Rebounds per game:  Zach Randolph (13.6)
  • Minutes per game: Zach Randolph (37.2)
  • Assists per game: Mike Conley (6.5)
  • Steals per game: Mike Conley (2.2)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Marc Gasol (1.4)

Worst Player of the Month: Tony Allen

Although Tony Allen has maintained his scoring numbers to his career average of eight per game and his perimeter defense has remained a cut above the rest, his offense leaves a little to be desired.  As of the end of November, Allen has shot just .383 from the field and has yet to make one from beyond the arc.  Allen's perimeter defense still remains in top form as he averages close to two steals per game; however, that may not be enough for him to keep his starting job.  Both newcomers Jerryd Bayless and Wayne Ellington have been breathing down his neck putting up solid numbers while giving Allen a run for his money for the starting two guard spot.  Unless he picks up his offensive output, Allen might be finding himself coming off the bench or even no longer in a Grizzlies unform once the season comes to a close.

First Player of the Month:  Zach Randolph

After an injury riddled and rather sub par season where he posted his lowest scoring average in eight year, many believed that Zach Randolph had finally ran out of gas.  Thankfully, this season, he has proven his detractors and doubters wrong as he has bounced back posting his usual stellar numbers averaging 16 points and eleven boards per game.  In the month of November, Randolph scored in double figures in all but one game, and scored 15 or more points in every game but two.  In addition to putting points on the board, he was a beast on the board tallying a double-double in points and rebounds in all but two games along with two games where he grabbed 15 or more rebounds.   Once rumored to be on the trading block last season, Zach Randolph has shown the fans, coaching staff and management that he is more valuable in a Grizzlies uniform than anywhere else. 


For the first time in the team's  history, the Memphis Grizzlies have finally reached the top of the mountain after years of finishing either at the bottom or middle of the pack.  At the end of November, Memphis finished not only at the top of its division beating out the routine leading San Antonio Spurs, but also with the best best record in the Western Conference and the league as well.  This is quite surprising considering that the Grizz do not really have a marquee player or any widely recognizable player.   This team, which hails from a rather small and unnoticeable  market, managed to beat out teams in much stronger market such as Miami, New York and Los Angeles.  In fact, one can go as far as to say that Memphis may be the best NBA team that no one knows about.

As part of the Southwest Division, Memphis has always been either cast aside or ignored as most of the attention would be focused on teams such as the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks.  Even the New Orleans Hornets, a team that has spent much of its time in the shadows have had more media exposure than the Grizzlies have had thus far.  While most media outlets focused on the rise of such teams as the Los Angeles Clippers and the fall of their Staples Center co-tenant Lakers, Memphis silently climbed up the ladder without anyone being the wiser.  After they started the season losing their first game to the Clippers (10/31/2013), the Grizzlies simply went on a tear winning their next eight games and finished the month of November winning twelve of their next fourteen games.  What is even more surprising was not so much how many games this team won, but who the Grizz beat to get those wins.

From a wide eyed perspective, Memphis had quite a challenging schedule to say the least.  In their inaugural month of the season, the Grizzlies would face the reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat (11/11/2012), last season's Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder (11/14/2012), and the current Atlantic Division leading New York Knicks (11/16/2012).  Granted, one would never associate the Memphis Grizzlies with being pushovers; however, considering the fact that a team that no one really considered a championship contender beat three of the teams who many have contending for the finals is a rather impressive feat.  Even more impressive was not just the fact that they beat those, but in the way they beat them and by how much.  For the entire month Memphis beat all but four teams by very wide double digit margins and kept all their opponents, save for one, from scoring 100 points.

In their twelve wins, the Grizzlies beat their opponents by an average margin of 11 points, while holding their victims to 88.9 points and .425 shooting.  They held the league's top team in field goal percentage and reigning NBA Champ Miami Heat to shooting just .380 from the field, and kept the same team that boasts three of the greatest players in their generation to just scoring 86 points while at the same time crushing one of the best defenses in the league torching Miami scoring 104 points on them.  To think that a team with no real recognizable stars could grind down a team consisting of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh is almost unfathomable.  Yet the Grizz did so with the greatest of ease along with humbling Kevin Durant of the Thunder and silencing Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks.  It is just a shame that such feats have gone unnoticed by mainstream media as they mostly concentrate on focusing on the franchises with the most notoriety and the Marquee names--two facets that the Grizzlies unfortunately do not possess.

While the media focused on the downfalls of fan favorites, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, the Grizzlies silently and sneakily took the top spot in the NBA beating the best of the best rather handily to get there.  It almost seems unfair that Memphis would get little or no attention whatsoever despite pulling what very few NBA franchise were capable of doing--beating the best of the best and rising at the top of the league standing in the first month of the season.  Hopefully, November's phenomenal finish will start a trend and the Grizzlies continue to maul each passing victim on by one.  Despite earning little attention from the press, fans, and the media, the Grizzlies certainly have kept opposing teams and their coaches on their toes they both realize that the Memphis Grizzlies are far more than they have ever anticipated.  Even though they don't receive it from outside sources, watch the other 29 teams, especially those in the upper echelon, pay Memphis the respect that it deserves.