Memphis Grizzlies: 4 Positive Signs from the Team's First 6 Games
The Memphis Grizzlies have seen their share of adversity to start the 2011-12 season. First, the Grizzlies lost Darrell Arthur, their first big man off the bench, to an Achilles tear. Then, the Grizzlies lost three of their first four games, including a 104-64 debacle against the Chicago Bulls. That game saw the Grizzlies barely avoid their franchise-low of 62 points.
In the loss against the Bulls, the Grizzlies lost Zach Randolph, a top-15 player and their leading scorer and rebounder last season, to a partial MCL tear. According to The Commercial Appeal, Randolph will miss six to eight weeks.
Rudy Gay is easing back to NBA form after going down with a season-ending shoulder injury last February. He's only averaging 15.8 points per game through the first six games.
Despite it all, the Grizzlies are 3-3 through six games. The Grizzlies have much to be happy about at this point.
Read along to find out why the Grizzlies and their fans should be smiling.
The Grizzlies Are 3-3
The simple fact that the Grizzlies are 3-3 at this point is reason for the Grizzlies to be happy. The Grizzlies should be glad to have overcome the losses of Randolph and Arthur to stand at .500 at this point.
Granted, the Grizzlies have taken the easy route to this record. All three of their losses came against teams that made the playoffs last season. Also, all three Grizzlies wins came against teams that missed the playoffs last season.
Starting at a decent pace without Randolph is important. If the Grizzlies can hang on to a .500 rate with Randolph out, they can stand up to a playoff pace once he comes back.
4 Players Are Shooting 83 Percent or Better from the Free Throw Line
The Grizzlies aren't one of the better free-throw shooting teams in the league. Through six games, the Grizzlies are 21st at the line, shooting 72.9 percent.
However, a few players are doing particularly well from the charity stripe. Mike Conley (11-of-11) and Sam Young (6-of-6) are both perfect at the line thus far. Jeremy Pargo is shooting 83 percent (5-of-6) from the line. O.J. Mayo is shooting 84.6 percent (11-of-13) from the line.
If these four players can pull the rest of the team, the Grizzlies could do pretty well at the line. Faring well in a fine-tuned aspect like free-throw shooting would be very helpful with Randolph out.
The Grizzlies Won Two Straight Without Zach Randolph
The Grizzlies have fared particularly well in the two full games that Randolph has missed thus far. Sam Young stepped up against the Sacramento Kings, scoring 20 points off the bench in the winning effort. Marc Gasol was a monster on the boards, grabbing 15 rebounds. Rudy Gay added a nice eight rebounds to his 23 points.
In their win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, the Grizzlies brought their tough defense. Gay and Mike Conley each had three steals, as the Grizzlies totaled 13 steals and forced 17 Timberwolves turnovers. Also, Minnesota scored only 86 points and shot 40.2 percent.
The Grizzlies Made the Moves They Wanted to Make
Not every team can make the deals they want to make. The Grizzlies did manage to make the moves they wanted to pull off. The Grizzlies aimed for Charlotte Bobcats restricted free agent Dante Cunningham. After making an offer, the Bobcats decided not to match it.
At the same time the Grizzlies were looking to get Marreese Speights from the Philadelphia 76ers. On Wednesday, the Grizzlies finally pulled off the trade, as reported by the Boston Herald, dealing injury-prone guard Zavier Henry to the New Orleans Hornets and two draft picks to the 76ers in the trade.
Also, the Grizzlies acquired Quincy Pondexter from the Hornets in exchange for guard Greivis Vasquez to make help make up for the loss in rebounding.
Most general managers don't get all the deals they hope to make. Partly since the players weren't stars, Chris Wallace made each deal he aimed to make.