The Memphis Grizzlies have shown that the core starters of the team are strong enough to be competitive at the top of the Western Conference. However, the bench is holding them back from reaching their full potential.
The starters, on average, are out performing their matchups, but the bench is being outscored by 1.9 PPG and are putting forth a much less efficient offense than their opponents. In particular, the point guards are the biggest problem, as they are being outscored by 5.1 PPG and are behind on assists and rebounds by .8 and 1.5, respectively.
The Grizzlies tried to address the issue by bringing in Gilbert Arenas, but it appears that they will need to look elsewhere to bring in the bench production they need at the reserve point guard position.
In the first-round series against the Clippers, it was clear the Grizzlies starting five are ready to become a stronger team in the West because they outscored the starters by 8.4 PPG. However, the bench did not provide enough support to take them to the second round, being outscored by 9.1 PPG.
The Grizzlies need to bring in a highly efficient backup point guard at a discount in order to take their team to the next level, and the guard that may be able to take them there is Delonte West.
Although his natural position is shooting guard, Delonte West has played the reserve point position for many different teams throughout his career. He is an efficient scorer putting up 9.6 PPG on 46.1 percent shooting this last season, which he has consistently done over his career.
He is quite capable of running the offense and averaged 3.2 assists per game paired with 1.7 turnovers. Last season, he posted a Player Efficiency Rating of 15.35, which would help boost the efficiency of the bench overall.
West provides a great deal of athleticism to the reserve point guard role, and he is capable of using his speed and power to get to the rim for more efficient shots. At the line, he is able to shoot at a strong rate of 88.6 percent, making him an asset to have on the floor at the end of games to insure foul shots are made.
Furthermore, West is a very talented defender and is able to use his quick feet and intense style of play to disrupt the ability of the opposing guards to run the offense effectively. West has had many injury problems and often is not capable of playing every game in the regular season, but his real value comes in the playoffs when he seems to always be healthy enough to put forth a solid performance.
I believe the risk is minimal, especially since his off-court issues have seemed to calm down, because West will be very affordable for the production that he puts forth.
If the Memphis Grizzlies want to be more competitive and make the push to be a championship-caliber team, they are going to need to have a much stronger bench to back up the starting lineup that is beginning to show great promise.
Delonte West may end up being the answer for the Griz at the point guard position, and this move could be the first step to set up a deep playoff run in the near future.