The Memphis Grizzlies stabilized their rocky ship with help from a few key players. Tony Allen and Jerryd Bayless have turned in spectacular performances recently to rally the team to its best pre-All-Star-break record in franchise history.
Allen has put together two solid scoring performances in the last three games to complement his stellar defense.
Bayless has put together a string of hot shooting nights to shore up his stat line after a horrendous first half.
Meanwhile, the two biggest stars remaining on the team since the Rudy Gay trade aren't quite pulling their weight. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph should be scoring a little more than they have been recently.
The pieces that the Grizzlies received in the Gay trade have worked reasonably well. Tayshaun Prince has brought veteran leadership, although his offensive production is a bit less than what is expected from him. Austin Daye is raining down three-pointers. Ed Davis has been helpful, although he has only played eight minutes per game.
Following are grades for Grizzlies players averaging more than 10 minutes per game. Also, Quincy Pondexter is omitted since he's been inactive since December.
Advanced statistics come from basketball-reference.com.
Zach Randolph is second in the league in rebounds per game at 11.5, and the guy ahead of him—Dwight Howard—is giving such a light effort that Randolph could easily pass him.
Randolph has earned his keep on the boards. He’s seventh in the league in total rebounding percentage at 19.5 and fifth in offensive rebounding percentage at 13.9. He’s second in the league in offensive rebounds with 208 (4.2 per game).
Meanwhile, his scoring has been underwhelming at a time when the Grizzlies need him to pick it up. After averaging just 13.3 points per game in January, he’s averaging 15.5 per game in February. That he’s averaged 14.6 points per game since Rudy Gay was traded is quite the letdown for Grizzlies fans.
His All-Star mention is well deserved, but he needs to rally with his inside shooting after the break to make it mean anything.
In just a couple weeks, Jerryd Bayless appears to have found a new body. Bayless has transformed his game on both ends of the floor recently.
Bayless has picked up his scoring figures tremendously. The Arizona product has shot 50.8 percent in the last 11 games. He’s averaged 14.6 points per game during this stretch. He scored in double figures in nine straight games after failing to scratch out double digits in 26 consecutive contests from Dec. 1 to Jan. 21.
This is largely due to an expanded role. Also, the loss of Rudy Gay has opened the door for an aggressive scorer.
He’s improved on defense, ticking his defensive rating down to 102 points allowed per 100 possessions.
If Bayless can keep up his performance, he’ll make a full turnaround from appearing to be a failed signing early on.
With his absolute dedication to making the team a champion, Tony Allen has driven himself even harder since Rudy Gay has left.
He’s putting forth a greater effort on offense. He’s taken eight or more field-goal attempts in four of the seven games since Gay’s departure. Allen scored 17 points against the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 8 and 19 on Tuesday.
Indeed, that increased offensive contribution has come at a cost. Allen has turned it over 2.5 times per game in the last eight affairs. That includes three games with four turnovers.
On the other end, he’s grinding as hard as ever. The leader of the “grit ‘n’ grind” has 13 steals in the last six games, including four against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. He’s fifth in the NBA in steal rate at 3.2 percent.
His defensive rating is an outstanding 98.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. That puts him third among backcourt players behind Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
After a nice start in Memphis, Tayshaun Prince has been fairly quiet. After putting up 25 points in his first two games, he has failed to score in double figures in three of his last four. He’s had three games in which he’s shot below 40 percent.
That’s a bit of a chip off someone who’s shooting 49.2 percent from the field since arriving on Beale Street.
His defense has been better than it has been in a long time. However, 105 points allowed per 100 possessions doesn’t quite cut it while trying to keep the Memphis grind.
Prince does many things right. He’s a master of the fundamental aspects of the game, which will sustain him in this lineup.
However, he’s welcome to score more than 10.3 points per game after the All-Star break.
Mike Conley will never be a highly appreciated point guard due to his ordinary assist line, but he has worked fabulously through the wilderness that is the altered Memphis rotation. He’s kept each of the newcomers involved. Also, Conley has ensured that the Grizzlies offense rediscover itself since the Rudy Gay trade by elevating his scoring and involving various teammates.
Conley is doing a much better job controlling the ball. In the last 10 games, he’s averaged 1.7 turnovers per game, coughing it up three or more times in just three of those games.
The sixth-year point guard reawakened his scoring chops recently. In seven of the last 13 games, he has scored more than 15 points. He led the way for the Grizz against the Sacramento Kings with 22 points.
Also, Conley has edged back to his impeccable form at the free-throw line. After shooting “just” 81.4 percent from the line through December, he shot 85 percent in January and has made 21 without a miss in February.
Austin Daye has been the biggest surprise among those acquired in the Rudy Gay trade. One wouldn’t have expected him to play more than Ed Davis, but there’s no wonder why when he’s on the court.
Daye has provided a refreshing burst of three-point shooting for a team that shoots fewer threes than any other squad in the Association. He’s shot 50 percent from downtown in his six games wearing the three shades of blue. The big man has taken 2.3 threes per game, joining Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless as the only Grizz taking more than two.
He’s also playing a good bit of defense, allowing 102 points per 100 possessions.
If he can keep up his marksmanship, Daye will be a valuable tool through the postseason.
Darrell Arthur has been sliding recently.
His scoring has slipped significantly. After averaging 8.5 points per game through January, he’s put up 4.7 per game in six February games on a dreary 37.1-percent shooting clip. Additionally, he’s failed to score in double figures since Jan. 23, shooting 38.2 percent in that time.
To his credit, Arthur has been playing solid defense. He’s allowing 101 points per 100 possessions. The Kansas product is a great asset defending beyond the arc.
Also, he’s done a fine job cutting down fouls. After committing 5.1 per 36 minutes in 2010-11, he’s committed 4.3 per 36 this season.
Still, Arthur’s biggest tool is his rangy scoring, and he isn’t making good until he finds a way to put it in the basket again.
Marc Gasol has picked up his productivity recently, although he still needs to juice up his numbers.
After averaging fewer than 13 points per game in each of the last two months, he's averaging 14.3 points per game in February. In the last nine games, he's averaging 16.3 per game, while shooting 49.1 percent in that time.
However, he's still shooting erratically, hitting 40 percent or fewer of his shots from the field in five of the last eight games.
The Spaniard is still dishing it out at a wonderful rate. He's averaging 4.2 assists per game. On Sunday, he had eight against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Gasol’s defense is nothing less than spectacular. He’s 12th in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 98.8 points per 100 possessions.