Memphis Grizzlies Stock Watch: Rising and Falling Players After First Month

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIDecember 6, 2012

Memphis Grizzlies Stock Watch: Rising and Falling Players After First Month

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    The Memphis Grizzlies scampered to their best 16-game start in franchise history in the last few weeks. This was brought on by the same great defensive play, as well as some unusually spectacular scoring.

    A couple of players like Zach Randolph impressed in the opening stage of the season. Meanwhile, others like Rudy Gay have fallen below expectations.

    Read along to see which players raised their stock and which ones lacked spark.

Rising: Zach Randolph

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    Anyone who wondered whether Zach Randolph would come back strong after missing most of last season due to a partially torn MCL has had all questions answered.

    Randolph has reasserted his rebounding dominance. He’s second in rebounds per game (13.3) and total rebounding percentage (21.4). Both on the offensive glass and overall he’s pulling down boards at a career-best rate. He’s taking down a remarkable five offensive boards per game.

    He’s scoring only 17.7 per game, but he’s producing fairly well. He’s shooting a reasonable 48.7 percent from the field and producing 111 points per 100 possessions.

    The 11-year veteran showed his renewed energy on Wednesday when he poured on 38 points, 22 rebounds, three steals and three blocks in an overtime win against the Phoenix Suns.

    The Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers might be the favored teams in the West, but Randolph will be fighting the interior battles to give Memphis the last word.

Falling: Rudy Gay

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    Rudy Gay has slowed down after a quick burst through the first few games. He had more than 20 points and at least 19 field-goal attempts in four of the first eight games. In four of the last five games, however, he put up less than 15 shots and 15 or fewer points to drop his scoring average to 18.6 per game.

    Also, his stroke has been less than impressive. He’s shooting 42.2 percent from the field, knocking down less than 40 percent of his shots in seven of 16 games.

    The 26-year-old hasn’t shot this badly or scored less than 18.9 points per game since his rookie year.

    To his credit, he’s rediscovered his three-point aim. After shooting 31.2 percent from three-point range last season, he’s hitting 38 percent from deep.

    Anyway, someone who came into the season with a chip on his shoulder like Gay did shouldn’t level off this quickly.

Rising: Quincy Pondexter

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    Before this season started, Quincy Pondexter was considered just a utility guy who could hardly shoot. Now, he’s a utility guy who can score periodically. He’s averaging 6.5 points per game, 2.3 more than last year.

    He’s scored in double figures four times, including a 16-point performance on Wednesday.

    Also, Pondexter has become a nice three-point shooting threat. After hitting just 30.6 percent from three-point range last season, he’s running a nice 37 percent clip.

    Bench play will be a driving force for the Grizzlies once the playoffs hit. Pondexter will be seen jumping from the pine for a nice scoring line at least a couple times in the postseason.

Falling: Jerryd Bayless

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    The Grizzlies had hoped to find a helpful backup for Mike Conley in the offseason. Bayless was the man. Thus far, he has been able to eat minutes, but hasn’t been very effective in that time. He’s averaging only 6.8 points per game, 4.5 off last year’s mark.

    His 42.6 percent shooting mark is basically on par with last year, but his three-point mark is down almost 10 percent to 32.4 percent.

    What’s even more concerning is the lack of action generated when he’s running the offense. The Grizz produce just 99 points per 100 possessions and turn it over on 17.2 percent of possessions when he’s on the floor.