Is this the best player in Grizzlies' history?
Minnesota Timberwolves (11-36) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (25-24) at Target Center
The Grizzlies come into Minnesota after a nice win over the Orlando Magic, which brings their record to one game above .500 and within 1 1/2 games of Portland for the 8th playoff spot in the Western Conference. Have the Grizzlies turned a corner? Have they gone from being just another team full of young could-be's to a team that has finally arrived in the discussion?
It's interesting how this roster has been formed from a lot of decisions that, at the time, were widely panned. Who thought the Zach Randolph trade would work out great? Did anyone think Mike Conley was a great pick? Rudy Gay has been mentioned quite often as being overpaid. Hasheem Thabeet is considered a bust. Marc Gasol came over in a trade that caused Gregg Popovich to openly complain about how unfair it was for the Lakers. Of course, Wolves fans know better than anyone that the O.J. Mayo trade has not exactly worked out in the Grizzlies' favor.
And yet, here we are seeing the Grizzlies approaching the playoffs in a tough West. Tonight, they'll get to face another up-and-coming team - the Timberwolves - who are in direct competition for future Western supremacy.
Let's break down the matchups:
Wouldn't it be great if all four guys from this picture were wearing Wolves uniforms next season? Yes, I said four.
Darko Milicic vs. Marc Gasol
What is Marc Gasol's ceiling in the NBA? It's doubtful he's an All-Star, but he has shown that he can be somewhat efficient for the Grizzlies. He'd probably be a nice backup for the Timberwolves. In fact, I'd be in favor of the move, since he's played quite often with Ricky Rubio and their chemistry is probably fairly solid.
That's next year though. For tonight, the "somewhat efficient" Gasol is not going to cut it. Darko already is an All-Star level center and if Gasol scores more than 10 points tonight, it means that Darko let him do it.
Winner: Darko Milicic
Zach Randolph has been playing close to All-Star level ball ever since he was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies, proving that guys with character issues always excel with the teams that drafted them.
Kevin Love vs. Zach Randolph
I imagine that cheering for Zach Randolph is a lot like eating at Old Country Buffet. Most of the time, the results are pretty volatile and upsetting and just don't make you feel very good afterwards. But even on the rare occasions where there are no bad physical side effects, the quality of the meal is still pretty poor. Sure, the mac-and-cheese can suffice and the prime rib might be okay once in a while. For the most part, however, I don't believe that anyone would choose OCB if they had the money or the opportunity to go elsewhere.
Just like Zach Randolph.
Kevin Love, on the other hand, is like Fogo de Chao. From the movement you walk in, you're overwhelmed with goodness. Just when you think it can't possibly get any better, someone walks by with the bacon-wrapped filet mignon.
Winner: Kevin Love
We really dodged a bullet with Randy Foye in the 2007 draft.
Michael Beasley vs. Rudy Gay
Just think of what could've happened. Instead of drafting Fourth-Quarter Foye who provided the team with so many great memories, Kevin McHale could've drafted Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay instead. It would've been a disaster. Brandon Roy blew out his knee and now is unable to get healthy no matter what he tries. Rudy Gay, on the other hand, blew out his wallet and is now costing his team millions, despite a lack of production on the court.
We aren't paying Randy Foye anything at the moment.
So, A free non-superstar vs. $13 million + for an injured non-superstar? I'll take the free one. Nice job, McHale.
Winner: Michael Beasley
Wait a minute, O.J. Mayo isn't starting?
Sam Young sounds like a name out of a Madden random name generator. I'm not even convinced that he's a real person. I think someone at ESPN made his name up and wrote it in the depth chart just to upset O.J. Mayo even further, since he can't even start over a fictional character. It says on his profile that he's played in 45 games so far this season. I don't believe it. I think someone is using NBA 2K11 stats from a created player and got them mixed up with real live Grizzlies' statistics.
Anyhow, whoever is actually starting for the Grizzlies tonight - we know it won't be O.J. - is bound to have a rough night. Corey Brewer doesn't just play defense. He's a method actor who got his role by shutting down great player after great player. Whether its Tony Allen, Xavier Henry, "Sam Young" or Mr. Glass Jaw, their scoring averages are all about to go way down.
Winner: Corey Brewer
Thad Motta must be so proud.
Luke Ridnour vs. Mike Conley
Mike Conley joins a grand tradition of Ohio State athletes who ahve excelled in the NBA. Who can forget such legends as Brad Sellers, Derek Anderson and Herb Williams? Jim Jackson was one of the Three J's at Dallas. Kosta Koufosis headed towards a Hall of Fame career with the Timberwolves. Wikipedia says some guy named John Havlicek played there, but if they played before I was born their records don't count.
With guys like Greg Oden, Daequan Cook, Evan Turner and Michael Redd, the legend of Ohio State lives on. Mike Conley is another Buckeye who is looking to make a difference in the NBA. As the starting point guard for the Grizzlies, he has undoubtedly impacted dozens of games with his play. I'm not sure how exactly, but given his alma mater, I'm sure it was in a big way. I can hardly wait for Jared Sullinger to get here next year.
Winner: Luke Ridnour
That's sounds about right. The Memphis Grizzlies are #11.
My Prediction: Timberwolves 111 - Memphis Grizzlies 91
Timberwolves' Record: 12-36