Watchability Rankings: Memphis Grizzlies
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports’ Adi Joseph and Sean Highkin will be counting down NBA teams based on watchability for the upcoming 2013-14 seasons. We’ll go one team a day, from least-watchable to most, giving you an idea of what to keep an eye out for this season. Today, we continue with the No. 13 Memphis Grizzlies:
2012-13 record: 56-26, reached Western Conference finals.
Adi Joseph’s 2013-14 record projection: 47-35, No. 6 seed in Western Conference playoffs.
Two best players (2012-13 numbers): C Marc Gasol (14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.7 blocks a game), PF Zach Randolph (15.4 points, 11.2 rebounds a game).
Overview: The Grizzlies fulfilled their potential last year, overachieving a bit as their amazing defensive roster put together enough offense to win 56 games and reach the West finals. They were helped by the Oklahoma City Thunder losing Russell Westbrook for the playoffs, but the Grizzlies definitely proved they can hang with anyone. The offense will be an issue, and the breaks may not go their way as often this season, but a repeat certainly isn’t out of the question.
WHY YOU CAN’T MISS THEM
So much defense: The Grizzlies were the only team to hold opponents under 90 points a game last season. Their “Grit ‘n’ Grind” identity was forged on one-on-one and help defense, and Gasol won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award while shooting guard Tony Allen (first team), point guard Mike Conley (second) and Gasol (second) gave the Grizzlies three of the 11 spots on the NBA’s all-defensive team.
True big men: Gasol at 7-1 and Randolph at a very thick 6-9 form the strongest and toughest frontcourt in the NBA. Now the Grizzlies have added 7-0 backup center Kosta Koufos to further their reputation. Even 6-6 small forward Quincy Pondexter can get in on the action as a hard-nosed scrapper.
The best franchise in sports: ESPN The Magazine released its annual survey of all 122 Big Four American sports franchises, and the NBA’s best small-market franchises faired well. But no one topped the Grizzlies, whose new ownership appears to have appeased fans and the Worldwide Leader in … [For more on NBA Watchability Rankings: No. 13 Memphis Grizzlies, click here.]