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Grizzlies An Example For Small Market Teams
Posted By Stephen Litel On May 4, 2011 @ 3:00 pm In All,NBA | No Comments
Every year there is discussion as to whether small market teams truly can compete in the NBA. While the San Antonio Spurs have won numerous NBA championships, they are almost looked upon in this conversation as abnormal because of their luck in drafting a player such as Tim Duncan to build around. Yet, every season fans and media members alike make their lists of teams the league should rid itself of through contraction with small market teams being tops on most of those lists.
As most GM’s know, building a team is much easier in theory than in reality. Some believe acquiring the best talent they can at each position will bring a championship to their squad. Others believe in building a core of two or three main players, who may not necessarily be the best in the league at their positions, but have chemistry. Then, they continually add to that starting point.
While teams have won numerous NBA titles using each of those trains of thought, for smaller market teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies, the latter is more realistic. The big name stars are almost always going to gravitate towards the bigger markets, so the jobs of GM’s in smaller markets becomes more difficult. Although that is the case, it is also an opportunity for the GM to show their creativity and ability to sell the ideas to the public who buys the tickets.
Let’s walk through how the Memphis Grizzlies came together as a team to already surprise in this year’s NBA playoffs.
While some on this list were acquired via draft day trades, they joined the team as rookies. The Grizzlies on that list include Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo and Sam Young. Each of these players is a main contributor to the Grizzlies in their own way and are in the team’s plans for the future for years to come.
While some predicted problems when Mayo was traded to Indiana, only to have the trade negated since it was past the deadline, he was able to continue to sacrifice his individual game for the sake of the team. He may not have been happy about the sacrifices at first, but with the team’s success in the playoffs to this point, one would hope that he would learn to understand that it is truly how the team can be its most successful. As the chemistry—and win totals—build, Mayo may very well come around completely, if he hasn’t already.
Rudy Gay must have conflicting emotions right now. As one of the leading scorers on the Grizzlies in the regular season, he must be antsy sitting on the sidelines with injury. Yet, as is somewhat the case with Mayo, this trying individual time may end up being a blessing in disguise since the team is having success without Gay. Sitting on the sidelines and watching what his teammates are capable of accomplishing in his absence should make Gay learn to adjust his game upon his return to become more of a well-rounded player. As someone who wants to be a leader on this team, Gay must utilize this time to understand how to get his on the court, but also to find ways to accentuate the talents of his teammates.
Signing Free Agents
Of the main players on the Grizzlies roster, only Tony Allen came via free agency. Once Leon Powe is able to join the rotation, he should be included here. What is significant about the free agent signings is how the players Memphis brought in are players accustomed to winning and compliment their main pieces well. They are also players more than willing to speak up and be a vocal presence on a young team, teaching the youthful players what it takes to win in the NBA.
Making trades always brings about conversation. Who won the trade? Who lost? Is this new collection of players going to mesh into a team? The Memphis Grizzlies made two separate trades to create their current roster, both of which were not looked upon favorably at first.
It takes stones to trade away your franchise player and that is exactly what the Grizzlies did when Pau Gasol made his way to Los Angeles to win back-to-back titles with Kobe Bryant. While the Lakers reaped the immediate rewards from the trade, the Grizzlies are quite happy with Pau’s little brother Marc Gasol and his development. While his scoring and rebounding numbers went down in the 2010-11 season, he and fellow post player Zach Randolph are quietly becoming a lethal combo down low.
Speaking of Randolph, he also became a member of the Grizzlies via a trade. Randolph had a reputation following him around when he landed in Memphis and it wasn’t a positive one. He was overweight, he was lazy, he wasn’t a leader and many believed the Grizzlies made a mistake by bringing him into the mix. Now, only two short seasons later, Randolph is loved in the city and has earned respect throughout the league by putting up All-Star caliber numbers.
The final trade to complete the current version of the Memphis Grizzlies is the trade bringing Shane Battier back to the team. He is a professional and a leader, both on and off the court. Battier doesn’t get rattled, no matter the situation and has the love of teaching younger players everything he knows. Every team needs a player on their team such as Battier.
It’s just that simple, right? All you have to do is make perfect choices on what players to draft, trade for and sign as free agents. That’s all.
The Memphis Grizzlies already shocked the NBA world by upsetting the San Antonio Spurs and by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals. Now, after losing Game Two the series is tied heading back to Memphis. The chemistry they have built is going to be put through the fire by a determined Thunder team, but the Grizzlies will have the hometown crowd cheering them on through the struggle. If they continue to play as they have, this small market team can continue to be an example for other teams in similar situations.
Be sure to follow Stephen Litel on Twitter @stephenlitel.
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