Monday, October 6, 2008

Finally, Some Sizzle From the Grizzle

The Memphis Grizzlies haven't really done justice to their team nickname. "Grizzlies" normally conjure up thoughts of huge, fearsome beasts. Not exactly the kind we've seen in Memphis in recent seasons. Instead we've seen a timid group of NBAers that were toothless and anything but scary.

This year should be different and the Grizz should start winning. I say "should" because this team is very, very young and more often that not, young teams lose a lot before they figure out how to win.

There is SIX rookies and only three guys with more than five years of NBA experience and the ones that have been around the league for a while are Marko Jaric(six), Greg Buckner(nine) and Antoine Walker(12). These guys are really only there because of trade throw-ins too and don't exactly get the turnstiles turning by themselves !

In Rudy Gay, Memphis has its genuine star. Not a superstar just yet, but Gay doubled his scoring average last year and in doing so cracked the coveted 20 point mark. He should have won the NBA's most improved player too, but that went to Hedo Turkoglu. ppphhh - Turkoglu, he won the award because of other players on his team (Howard, Lewis) where as Gay improved because he is a good player and became the man.

Memphis has made some good moves since last season. They swiped OJ Mayo from Minnesota in a draft day deal and added former favourite son Pau Gasol's hermano Marc as a part of the deal that sent Pau to the Lakers last January. They also wiped their hands clean of Kwame Brown, not that KB was ever part of the long-term plans in the first place.

Point guard Mike Conley struggled in his rookie season with injury, but all reports are that he's fit and ready to go this year. He'll compete with Kyle Lowry for the starting spot, but Lowry's poor shooting lets down his otherwise solid game. Conley is the guy Memphis want running the show.

The Grizzlies also added the intriguing Iranian giant, Hamed Haddadi in the summer. Iran isn't known as a country that produces top quality NBA talent, but they did make the Beijing Olympics so basketball must be on the rise in the Arabic state. Haddadi stands at 7'2" and his numbers were solid in five games at the Olympics averaging 16ppg, 11rpg and an impressive 2.6 blocks per contest.

The Grizzlies young guys will be fun to watch this year, even though there will still be more losses than wins, but only just. For the punters out there, here's your smokey to slip into the playoffs out West.

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