Prior to last season, the Memphis Grizzlies did not have a true identity on the basketball court. At that time the Grizzlies were a team with loads of potential, but one that was not expected to have much success as a team.
While Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and O.J. Mayo are the ones who receive all of the national attention, there is one person that basketball fans tend to forget about. That player is Tony Allen. Allen is arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA. His prowess on the defensive end is second to none.
Winning a championship with the Boston Celtics, Allen saw what it took to be a consummate professional and to play as a strong team. Since Allen's arrival, the Grizzlies have established an identity as a tough team that plays great defense as well as unselfish play on the offensive end.
Last season, Allen was key in the Grizzlies' postseason success. The assignment of guarding the best perimeter player on each team is no easy task. Allen commands the job like no other.
This season, Allen is arguably having his best season as a pro, averaging 10.6 PPG to go along with 1.79 steals PPG. The stats may seem modest to some viewers, but Allen's play is a lot bigger than numbers. The Grizzlies have been on a tear as of late and will only become more dangerous when Zach " Z-Bo" Randolph returns from injury.
In an era where analyst and viewers complain about how soft the NBA is and the lack of competitive fire on the defensive end, Allen is a breath of fresh air. Watch Tony Allen play and you will witness the non-stop grind of a player who is willing to do whatever it takes to win.
If the Grizzlies continue to win throughout the Western Conference, No. 9 has a lot to do with it.