NBA Playoffs: Matching Up Every Position in Grizzlies vs. Clippers

Clint EilandAnalyst IApril 29, 2012

NBA Playoffs: Matching Up Every Position in Grizzlies vs. Clippers

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    A lot have pegged the opening round series of the Grizzlies and Clippers as the most interesting one to watch. After all, it does have the makings of one. 

    Young, energetic team versus hardened, experienced team. Both having fairly new playoff success and appearances. Both underrated the entire season. There is no reason to not tune into this one. 

    Each team has valuable talent that will need to show up in the series if either want to have success. For the Grizzlies, guys like Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol headline the tough, defensive style, while Clippers like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul bring the offensive fireworks.

    Basketball is a team game, though, so every position and player will need to have an impact. For this article, I will be examining every position and the players in them. One team will have an advantage. Let's see which team that is.

    *Note: In order to make this slideshow, I will only focus on two players at each position. If both teams only have one guy, then it will be a one-on-one comparison.

Point Guard

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    Perhaps it is very unfair to start out with this position. Here we have Chris Paul and second string Mo Williams versus Mike Conley and Gilbert Arenas.

    Fine, it is very unfair.

    Chris Paul is one of the best point guards-scratch that-players in the NBA right now. He is averaging almost 20 point and 10 assists a game, which is good for fifth in overall efficiency ratings. The Clippers offense revolves around him and his ability to manage the game.

    Behind him, Mo Williams is no slouch either. At 13 points and three assists per game, he is one of the better backups in the league. His efficiency rating is better, albeit by a very slim margin, than the league average. 

    On the Grizzlies side, Mike Conley is the guy to look to, as he controls the tempo of the Grizzlies offense. While he has decent offensive numbers (12 points and seven assists per game), his presence is truly felt on the defense, where he averages over two steals a game. Conley isn't necessarily bad, it's just that Chris Paul is tons better.

    Conley's backup is Gilbert Arenas. I'm not going to go over a guy who averages less than five points a game and one assist. You can do the math.

    The only way to stop Chris Paul is if Conley can be aggressive with help from Tony Allen. Other than that, this advantage is clearly to the Clippers.

    Advantage: Clippers

Shooting Guard

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    This position battle is more even, with Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo going up against Randy Foye and Nick Young.

    Foye is an underrated part of the Clippers team who is averaging 11 point and two assists per game. Sure, they're not the most gaudy stats, but he still helps the team. Efficiency wise, he has a 13.56, which goes in accordance to my previous statement.

    Young is pretty much the same as Foye, but just not as efficient. While averaging a better 14 points a game, he can't even muster one assist. That is what pegs him with a 12.93 PER. The position definitely isn't one of the Clipper's biggest strengths.

    On the flip side, the Grizzlies have a standout in Tony Allen, who averages 10 points, an assist and four rebounds per game. In accordance to the Grizzlies game style though, he is better felt on the defensive side of the ball with two steals per game. In a poll earlier this year, he was voted the best perimeter defender in the league. That will certainly come in handy tonight versus the Clippers.

    O.J. Mayo is one of the top backups in the league and can make an immediate impact when on the court. His 13 points, three assists, and three rebounds per game all help him get a 14.76 PER, which is ideal for a backup.

    This battle, mainly because of better depth, goes to the Grizzlies.

    Advantage: Grizzlies

Small Forward

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    This slide is similar to the first one, just flip-flopped. Rudy Gay and Quincy Pondexter against Caron Butler and Bobby Simmons. Not too equal of a match up.

    Butler is getting 12 points and four rebounds per game for an astounding...11.77 PER. Not too good if you want to contend in the playoffs. In order for him to amount to anything in this series, he will either have to step up his offensive game or be able to stop Rudy Gay's. Both are hard to do.

    But hey, at least he has Bobby Simmons to back him up! I mean, he does have three points and two rebounds a game. That equates to an efficiency of 6.06. Rudy Gay has a better PER alone than those two combined.

    Speaking of Rudy Gay, he silenced all doubters and proved that he is still one of the top tier players in the league. Gay is the leader of this Grizzlies team that provides 19 points, six rebounds, and two steals a game. He can do everything required of him on both sides of the court and then some. His play is essential to Grizzlies success.

    Pondexter isn't good, but he's certainly better than Simmons. With four points and two rebounds per game, he is slightly better. Though, you don't need to be that good when the guy starting over you is the ultimate player of a team.

    Grizzlies have a huge advantage here.

    Advantage: Grizzlies

Power Forward

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    Now here is where it gets very interesting. Blake Griffin and Kenyon Martin against Zach Randolph and Marreese Speights is quite the matchup.

    If you aren't familiar with Blake Griffin, then welcome out of the proverbial rock that you have been living under. Griffin is a beast that gets 21 points, 11 rebounds, a block and a steal per game. While his defense could be better, he is still a very efficient player (23.50) that impacts the game in a huge way.

    For as much as we love to post the videos of him embarrassing guys under the basket, we tend to not pay much attention to his flopping and overreactions to some hits. If he wants to be an impact in this series, he will need to toughen up in order to get through the Grizzlies grinding style of play.

    His backup Kenyon Martin will never get near the amount of attention, though he plays decently. Five points and four rebounds isn't astounding though, and will never get him any notice.

    The power forward position for the Grizzlies is very interesting. Speights is currently listed as the starter over Randolph, though they both are honestly interchangeable. Speights is averaging nine points and six rebounds on way to a 14.12 PER. He is finally starting to live up to the expectations put before him.

    Randolph is a very interesting player though, and one that deserves your attention. Coming in at 12 points and eight rebounds per game, his stats are very deceiving. The last stretch of the season saw him returning from injury and working his way back to his dominant self. 

    That dominant self will have to show up if he wants to try to stop Blake Griffin. Randolph went, as the cool kids would say, H.A.M. last season in the playoffs and was a key element in Memphis' playoff run. He averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds per game last postseason, and had the uncanny ability to hit shots when they mattered the most. He is a guy who plays best when the pressure is high.

    It is very hard to decide between the two teams, but I will go with the Grizzlies again by a very slim margin. I just think that Randolph will do what he has always done: Step up when he needs to.

    Advantage: Grizzlies

Center

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    Yet another close one. Partly due to the fact that it is one-on-one, Marc Gasol vs. DeAndre Jordan. Both with understated roles on their respective teams.

    Other than a shout-out on Tyga's "Lob City" track, DeAndre Jordan tends to go unnoticed on the Clippers team, which is a shame, considering that he is an important player on both sides of the court. While only averaging seven points a game, he gets eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal per game. He is the third most important guy on the team, and probably the best defender on it.

    For how good DeAndre is, he has a hard time holding a candle to Marc Gasol. Though, it is hard trying to outplay an All-Star. Gasol averages an astounding 15 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal a game. Those are All-Star stats if I've ever seen them. In contrast to his brother, Marc is known as the defensive rougher-upper on the team. He is pretty much the face of the Grizzlies defense.

    Sorry, I'll take the All-Star all day. Grizzlies nab another one.

    Advantage: Grizzlies

    When comparing the two teams, the position advantage is clear: The Memphis Grizzlies are an overall deeper and more talented team than the Clippers. That doesn't mean LA can't win, but it will be hard for them when they are outmatched on almost all locations on the court.

    Grizzlies in six.