Playoff Postmortem: Memphis Grizzlies

(image from
Zebo and Gasol make a tremendous twin tower twosome
(image by the AP)
When a team that sold out only four games in the regular season knocks the top seed in the West and pushes the 4th seed to 7 games, it’s sure to turn heads.

And they did all of that without arguably their best all-around player in Rudy Gay.

How good will they be
when Rudy Gay returns?
(image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

That’s who the Memphis Grizzlies are right now.

They are the toast of Tennessee, and of anyone who loves underdogs. They took the place held last year by the Oklahoma City Thunder (ironically, the team that eliminated them), and look where OKC is now.

It could be where Memphis is this time in 2012, but only if they make the right moves in the offseason.

Gay should be back healthy and raring to go. Zach Randolph and he will make a good, top-tier duo in the league. Mike Conley has proven he can go toe-to-toe with Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook. Tony Allen is half-grit and half-brute, which is a good thing. OJ Mayo is the ever-reliable off-the-pine guy.

The X-factor will be Marc Gasol.

The Spaniard had a great postseason, which is both good and scary for Memphis.

It means he holds a lot of promise. He displayed flashes of being a primetime player, and definitely performed better in the playoffs than the other Spaniard of the same surname. And that leads to the problem – he’s a restricted free agent who will undoubtedly attract attention. A lot of it.

Zach Randolph led Memphis
in defying all expectations
(image by the AP)
It’d be a no-brainer for any team needing a legit big man to try and make a pass at Gasol. He’s a walking double-double, and that’s with Zebo around. If he had the paint all to himself, then he could be star-caliber.

Can Memphis keep him? They better.

Which means they might have to move others around, or out of the picture.

Nevertheless, Lionel Hollins, sans Gasol or still with him, will have a better squad next year. The experience helped this team, and the prospective decline of some other powers in the West (Spurs? Nuggets? Dare I say Lakers?) might bump them up a couple of notches.

The challenge now is, how will they respond to the expectations? Even now, they’ve sold a significant number of season tickets for next year. Fans are putting the pressure on the team to AT LEAST duplicate this year’s magical run. They’ll be healthier next year.

Can they meet all these?

Something tells me they will. Something tells me they will go the way of OKC, and be in a better playoff position next season. Something tells me they’ll win playoff games again, and have a few more Game 7s. Something tells me they’ll continue turning heads.

Tony Allen has the last laugh against Boston.
(image by the AP)
Mike Conley has emerged as a more-than-reliable PG
(image by the AP)
OJ Mayo is the star of Lionel Hollins's bench
(image by the AP)

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