The Memphis Grizzlies are out of the 2012 Playoffs, there are many reasons as to why they are now home. The biggest however, is one folks hardly speak on. The Grizzlies have one of the best front courts in the NBA, their backcourt is another story. If you were to look solely at the boxscore after every game in the Clippers-Grizzlies Series, you would say that Mike Conley played pretty well. In the 7 game series, Conley averaged: 14 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds while shooting 42% from the field and 50% from three point land. Those are stellar numbers, but let’s look a little deeper.
Conley is a capable point guard, however he is a poor facilitator. The Grizzlies don’t need a scoring point guard, they need someone to facilitate the offense. As of right now, Marc Gasol does a better job of getting the ball to players in the right place than Conley does. The fact that Gasol is one of the better passers for his position, if not the best should be a bonus. Instead it’s a necessity, the Grizzlies offense seldom has any flow due to their lack of a facilitator at the point guard position. In this era in the NBA, point guard play is at an all time high. It’s very hard to get by without having a good one, the days of having a decent point guard are gone. These days you need an elite point guard or at least a younger point guard with elite attributes. Conley is neither, he is a decent option at the position. This current level is his ceiling, the Grizzlies will never unlock their true potential as a team without improving their level of play at the point guard position.The other factor in this, his inability to defend ANYONE. Obviously Chris Paul is arguably the BEST point guard in the league, if not THE best. In no way am I comparing Conley’s play to Paul’s, but he couldn’t stop Eric Bledsoe either. Bledsoe had a huge impact on this series, as the series went on he even spent time on the floor with Paul in the backcourt. Whoever had Conley on them, took advantage of that matchup.
This is not a Conley bashing post though, OJ Mayo is a problem as well. Mayo is the “big gun” off the bench for the Grizzlies, yet he is hardly ever consistent. In this series the Grizzlies bench got thoroughly out played, both benches have their tough guys in Reggie Evans and Mo Speights. They also have their hired guns Nick Young and Mayo, the Clippers Bench came to play EVERY GAME. Mayo is regarded as a talented scorer, that’s fine and all but if you can’t provide that consistently then what are you truly giving your team? All good teams have players off the bench that they can RELY on to play their role, Mayo can’t be trusted. In this series he averaged 9 points a game while shooting 27% from the field and 29% from three. The Grizzlies must not feel to comfortable with Mayo if they tried to trade him twice last year, I belive he is a free agent this year and I don’t believe he’ll be retained by Memphis.
Obviously the Grizzlies front line is where their strength is, so why did it take until game 5 and 6 to get them the number of touches they need? Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol were all capable of winning their matchups at their positions. Gasol averaged 10 shots a game, connecting on 52% of his shots, Randolph got 12 shots up a game, and Gay was finally more selfish by putting up 16 shots a game. Ideally they all need to be taking 15 to 17 shots a game, obviously that takes away from the guards but it’s where the team’s strength is. Memphis needs to surround these three with guards that can knock down open jumpers, all of the three are deserving of double-teams so the opportunity is there for shooters. The Grizzlies have yet to reach their true potential, will the organization make the necessary changes or will they repeatedly fall short in the years coming?
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