Memphis Grizzlies: Zach Randolph's Injury Doesn't End Team's Playoff Hopes
Let's pump the brakes a bit, Memphis Grizzlies fans. Yes, it hurts to lose Zach Randolph for the next six to eight weeks due to an MCL tear, but it's not over—the Grizz still look great to get into the playoffs. I've got four reasons why they'll still make the postseason.
With recent moves that general manager Chris Wallace has made, Memphis merely needs to play just above .500 basketball for the next couple months, something they are well-equipped to do.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies aren't the only team that are dealing with injuries to their superstars. Take a deep breath, fans, it's going to be okay.
Grizzlies Are Used to Playing Short-Handed
As sad as it is, the Memphis Grizzlies are rarely at full strength.
Rudy Gay's well-documented shoulder injury helped players like Sam Young gain experience and take a leadership role. Mike Conley has missed time this year, revealing the skills of Josh Selby and Jeremy Pargo.
Now it's Marc Gasol's, Dante Cunningham's and soon Marreese Speights' turn to step it up.
If history is any indicator, coach Lionel Hollins will be able to make sure that happens.
Marreese Speights Trade
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Marreese Speights is vastly underrated.
If Speights does exactly what he has done with the Philadelphia 76ers in his three years with the team, he'll average 12 points, six rebounds and nearly a block a game in just 24 minutes for Memphis. That amount of playing time would make him one of the best big men off the bench in the league.
But if he begins starting and receiving around 30 minutes per game, those stats grow to 15 points, eight rebounds and one block per game. In case you're wondering, that's almost exactly what Marc Gasol did last year.
That's all assuming Speights doesn't improve with a scenery change. After all, Doug Collins might be a great coach, but he is very demanding, and I expect him to grow as a player with the trade.
I recall a certain power forward who switched teams to the Grizzlies a couple years ago who has excelled ever since...
Injuries Throughout the Western Conference
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The Memphis Grizzlies may have lost one of their stars for the next couple months, but they're just one of many teams to have injury troubles.
The San Antonio Spurs lost their spark in shooting guard Manu Ginobili to a broken hand for the next two months. That means that Memphis might be able extend a lead in the West over San Antonio in the short run, making it easier to relax at the end of the season.
The Golden State Warriors are bound to lose Stephen Curry for a period of time this year to yet another right ankle sprain (he missed a lot of last year and already some this year for it).
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The next tier, the yeah-I-really-really-think-they're-in group, consists of three more teams: the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets.
That leaves at minimum two spots that are wide open for the playoffs. The Utah Jazz aren't here for the long haul. The Phoenix Suns are too inconsistent, and the Golden State Warriors are even worse than them. The Houston Rockets aren't deep enough, and the other teams just aren't good enough.
The Dallas Mavericks are the only team that you can definitely say edge the Grizzlies in the lower-tier group, but even they've showed their vulnerability.
Memphis remains one of the best teams in the bottom two-thirds of the West, which is good enough for the playoffs.