If Andre Drummond keeps playing 20+ minutes a game (he’s averaging 16.7), then Lawrence Frank will earn a reprieve of my desire to start a #FreeAndre campaign. 20 games is when my lineup bitch-fest is slated to begin.
Until then, take a look at the best team in the NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies. You know who they remind me of? Wait, we’ll come back to that.
The Grizzlies, at 9-2, off a win over the Lakers Friday night, have also notched victories over Miami, OKC, and the Knicks. What you might perceive as their weakest opponent so far, the Bobcats, is actually a quality road win. What? Charlotte? How!? The refurbished Bobcats have one less win (6), than they had ALL of last year (7).
Back to Memphis. This exercise is only for those who even knew Memphis was home to an NBA team. Are you ready? Name their best player. Name their most recent All Star (they did have one in the ’12 game). Name their my-kids-gotta-have-his-jersey superstar – because all the most accomplished NBA teams, all the teams that are viable title contenders have one, right? No, usually they have two. Or three.
Their best player? Toss up between Zach Randoph and Marc Gasol, who is the answer to the second question. He was their All Star last season.
Who’s the Grizz’ superstar? They don’t have one. And I honestly can’t see anyone on the roster blossoming into a household name.
Who are the Grizzlies? Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Jerryd Bayless, Marreese Speights, Quincy Pondexter, and Wayne Ellington form the nightly rotation.
9-2 is not a fluke. Through a pretty rigorous schedule Memphis leads the NBA in point differential at near 8 a game. I won’t claim to be academically superior to all when it comes to knowledge of the Grizzlies, but I’ve seen enough, read enough, scoured and studied enough key statistics to see that this isn’t a team that will slip outside the top four of the West. Why COULDN’T they top it? I recall one writer, somewhere (forgive me for forgetting the source), stating that Memphis was a team without a weakness. I can see that. Inside of the 9-2 start is 4-1 on the road, scoring 100 points per game, while allowing just 93, and having the brutish and gifted size that most teams outside of the currently dysfunctional Lakers can’t lay claim to.
I’m not claiming or forecasting an NBA title for the Grizzlies, but their success, again, is genuine. Can you think of the last team to win a championship that didn’t have what most observers would VERRRRY subjectively describe as a ‘superstar’ or a top 15 player? Hold on before you offer an answer. Of the last 8 winners of the NBA title, all not only had superstars, most had at least one irrefutable Hall of Famer. A legend or TWO. Lebron, Kobe, Dirk (yes, Dirk), take your pick on Boston, Duncan, Shaq. All will be enshrined in Springfield.
With the way the Memphis roster has been astutely constructed and how the ole sum of the parts rule is very applicable with them, the 2012/13 Grizzlies look eerily similar to the subtlety acclaimed ’04 Pistons. Yes, I’ve pointed out before that that mid-decade core of the Pistons DID have multiple All Stars. But it wasn’t until 2006 when the success and reputations of Billups, Hamilton, and Rasheed, put them along side Ben (who’d been the lone Detroit All Star every year since ’03) among the game’s finest players for its midseason indoor playground contest.
I think I’ve found a new favorite NBA team. Go Grizz. And #FreeAndre