The NBA Season is ready to start on Christmas Day, the last couple of preseason games are being played as I write this up, and it's time for me to cater to every serious NBA fans love of season previews! The 2011 Geektastic Preview is going to be way too large for one article, so I'm dividing it up into divisions (and even so, it's going to be long, so get a cup of coffee!). In this article I'm going to preview the Memphis Grizzlies.
The 2011-12 Memphis Grizzlies
Lost: Shane Battier, Grivies Vasquez
Added: Josh Selby (R), Jeremy Pargo, Quincy Poindexter
Outlook: The Memphis Grizzlies are a very solid team. They've got a great starting frontcourt and should expect to improve on last year, when they came on strong at the end of the season to finish in the playoffs.
I'm not as excited about Memphis as others are, mostly because I'm not a huge Rudy Gay fan. We've written a lot about Rudy Gay before. Until 2010, Rudy Gay was never a very good player. Then, last season, he surprised us by playing above-average in the first year of his contract. But when he was injured, the Grizzlies were able to replace his production with that of Shane Battier. This year, Gay returns, but Battier is not gone. In other words, I predict that the return of Rudy Gay will not, in fact, make Memphis any better this year. In addition, after 3 years in the NBA, OJ Mayo still hasn't proven he can produce effectively as a shooting guard (yet he contunies to get minutes nonetheless).
Gasol will likely improve (young players tend to), and Zach Randolph will probably still bring his efficient shooting and rebounding every night. But predicting that this team will be a 3 seed seems like a classic mistake: fans, writers, and NBA decision makers all tend to overvalue playoff performances. Yes, they came within one game of defeating the Thunder last year. But the Thunder didn't play their best in that series, and 7 games is a mighty small sample size.
I expect this team to do well enough to make the playoffs but at the end of the day Rudy Gay is just not that good (in terms of win production), and that's if he's fully recovered; it's not unusual for players to take longer to fully recover from an injury like his. I predict the Grizzlies will be somewhere around a 6th seed.