Resilient Memphis Grizzlies Shouldn’t Be Counted Out Next Season

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February 01, 2016: Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) and center Marc Gasol (33) screen off New Orleans Pelicans guard Norris Cole (30) during the NBA game between the Memphis Grizzles and the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA. Memphis Grizzlies defeat New Orleans Pelicans 110-95. (Photograph by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

Resilient Memphis Grizzlies Shouldn’t Be Counted Out Next Season

The Memphis Grizzlies are a small-market franchise with not one but two stars. The Grizzlies have All-NBA center Marc Gasol, as well as a proven star in Mike Conley. The team has been a playoff contender for seven straight years. It’s true that the Grizzlies have recently lost two-time All-Star Zach Randolph, and there has still been no final word on available free agent Tony Allen. “Grit and Grind” may be dead and gone, but the grind is life in Memphis. It is simply part of the Grizzlies’ culture. Every year, fans and experts alike leave the team off their lists of contenders. The Grizzlies tend to step up when all odds are against them; this resilient bunch deserves more credit.

Sports Illustrated‘s Michael Shapiro recently published an article titled “Which NBA Teams Could Go From Playoffs to Ping-Pong Balls in 2017-18?” In the article, Shapiro writes that the Grizzlies could see themselves on the outside looking in at the end of next season. He also admits that this team will not go down without a fight. I can agree with the latter part. Sure, some feel that the Western Conference is more competitive than ever. A few teams have added more stars to their roster, but isn’t that what happens every off-season? Shapiro is too dismissive of the Grizzlies, especially given their success over the last several years.

The Reliable Defense

In its current Conley-Gasol era, Memphis has been a team known for its defense. This franchise takes the motto “defense wins championships” to heart. The Grizzlies have never been an offensive powerhouse. As long as Gasol, a former Defensive Player of the Year, is the anchor of the ship, the Grizz will continue to be elite on that end.

This team has embodied the true meaning of an underdog. When critics continue to ignore the Grizzlies, they seem to play even harder. A lot will depend on the health of forward Chandler Parsons. He was originally acquired to be the Grizzlies’ third offensive option. Parsons has been said to be totally healthy and ready to step in. There is a lesson here to be learned. Two stars have carried the load before; don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Grizzlies fans should continue to believe. All odds are against the team. But the talk and low expectations will not cause this team to falter. The Grizzlies will just keep on grinding.

 

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