It's a good question from the All-Star Forward Zach Randolph. Why aren't his Memphis Grizzlies playing on Christmas Day?
I'm not necessarily saying there is anything wrong with Boston, New York, Miami, Dallas, Chicago and LA all being featured in the December 25th triple-header to open this NBA season, but I really can't wait to see what Z-Bo and his Grizzlies squad can do this season either. Randolph thinks they can pick up right where they left off last year, and count me as a guy who believes him.
I know jumping on the Grizzlies bandwagon might be viewed as somewhat fashionable or trendy, and I also realize they were only an eighth seed last season who won technically only one playoff series against an aging San Antonio Spurs team, but if they sold Memphis Grizzlies stock right now I would buy as much of it as I could afford. Which isn't a lot, but that isn't the point.
The point is, for as many missteps as he's taken off the court throughout his career, Zach Randolph appears to have a leadership quality that goes beyond his production on the floor right now. Maybe he matured into that, maybe it has something to do with the Memphis community, the Grizzlies organization, or maybe I'm making too much of his performance last postseason, I can't say for sure. It does appear that his team rallies behind him though, and it also appears that he completely believes in the guys he's playing with. Those things only usually help.
I don't see how Randolph couldn't feel confident about his Grizzlies squad either. Marc Gasol is the most under-rated big man in the NBA by far, and they are essentially adding an All Star in Rudy Gay to group that was one game away from the conference finals. It will take some time for Gay to adjust, and redistributing the shots amongst both him, Gasol, Randolph, and the rest of the team will take some time too, but I think they'll be able to figure it out.
So does Z-Bo too, as he went on to tell the Commercial Appeal over the weekend:
“We definitely have a chance to get off to a good start.”
“All we have to do is come in with the mindset we had when we finished (last season). All of the guys have been working out — from the youngest guys to the oldest guys. I think we’re ready to do big things.”
It's not just about Randolph, Gasol, and the addition of Rudy Gay either. Tony Allen will continue to be a critical reason for this team's success next season as well, even if (read: when) his offensive numbers go way down. Some people will have to give up shot attempts in order to allow for Rudy Gay to do what he does, and one of those people will be Allen. That's a positive for Memphis though, because I don't think Tony Allen will care about that. He will continue to add value on the defensive end of the floor regardless, and maybe more importantly continue to be a winning presence in the locker room as well.
OJ Mayo will be the other person who will be asked to think team first, rather than fire up as many shots as he might like too, but I think OJ matured last season too. Call me crazy. Mike Conley will also have to continue to improve as a PG, and both Greivis Vasquez and Josh Selby will need to provide some solid minutes at that spot also, but overall I'm with Randolph.
I definitely think they have a chance to get off to a good start too. Big things are certainly not out of the realm of possibilities for those guys, they'll just have to wait until after Christmas Day to get started.
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