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Power Ranking Every Memphis Grizzlies Player Already on Roster

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIJuly 11, 2013

Power Ranking Every Memphis Grizzlies Player Already on Roster

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    For the Memphis Grizzlies, the balance has shifted in the past couple of years with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley pushing them forward. Zach Randolph had once been their best player, but Gasol and Conley have moved past him.

    This power ranking of the Grizzlies' signed roster performers features a minor surprise. Jerryd Bayless and Quincy Pondexter push themselves upward as they figure to be among the team's five most important shooters. 

    Also of interest is how the reserve big men fall in order. Kosta Koufos' gifts give him intriguing value on his new squad.

    The Memphis faithful shouldn't be anxious to see Jamaal Franklin and Janis Timma in this set. Since they're unsigned rookies, they're not listed. Also, Donte Greene and Willie Reed aren't in here since they have non-guaranteed contracts.

    Follow along to see where each player stands as he works through the offseason.

    Advanced metrics come from basketball-reference.com

     

11. Tony Wroten

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    Tony Wroten is still a raw talent after one year. He can score a bit in the NBA, but he still needs to show some ability to handle the ball. Wroten scored 2.6 points per game on 38.4 percent shooting in 35 appearances. 

    He turned it over 3.8 times per 36 minutes. He had five games with 10 or more minutes and less than two turnovers.

    The 20-year-old took only 41 percent of his shots away from the rim, hitting 25 percent of those 40 shots.

    If he can hit some open jumpers in the NBA Summer League, the former Washington Husky could show an ability to overcome at least one shortcoming.

10. Jon Leuer

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    Bringing back Jon Leuer for $1 million per year was a smart, low-risk move by the Grizzlies. Finding a good player to stand in as the third big man off the bench isn't easy. 

    With higher spending priorities, Memphis did well retaining Leuer on a miniature deal. The 6'10" power forward has enough size to stand up to other bench players. Leuer hits his fair share of shots, having knocked down 62.5 percent in 19 games after arriving from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a trade.

    He averaged 5.1 minutes per game and had three or more rebounds in five of his seven games with double-digit minutes.

    If he continues to shoot well and pull down rebounds when he gets a significant number of minutes, he might edge closer to 10 minutes per game.

9. Ed Davis

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    Apparently, Ed Davis is still at the point in his career when writers feel the need to debate whether he should play in the summer league.

    The Commercial Appeal’s Ron Tillery tweeted, "For the Ed-Davis-is-a-finished-product crowd, I recall OJ Mayo going to Vegas when he wasn't required. It's called trying to get better."

    Davis justifiably replied, "I didn't kno playing summer league was the only way to get better. But, hey I guess you know the formula".

    The former Toronto Raptor doesn't need to worry about having to improve through summer league. He wouldn't become a better rebounder against stronger guys, especially since the big guys in the summer league aren't nearly as imposing as rotation players already on rosters. 

    Also, watching scrappy hopefuls in the post wouldn't teach him anything since few of them have the skills he has.

    Davis, who shot 44.6 percent on two-pointers away from the rim, should work on his jumper. Still, one's ability to hit a contested jumper isn't something that will change with a couple of summer league games.

    If he trains well in any offseason workouts and fares well in training camp, Davis could become increase his respectability outside three feet.

    Becoming a better all-around shooter, along with a tougher rebounder, will give Memphis decision-makers confidence in his chances of replacing Zach Randolph in 2014-15.

8. Kosta Koufos

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    By default, Kosta Koufos is the No. 1 reserve big man for the Grizz. At 7'0" and 265 pounds, he has a significant size advantage on Ed Davis and Jon Leuer.

    He also has shown steadier improvement than the other two. Koufos earned more minutes in each of the past two seasons and has 6.5 win shares in 2012-13 after having 4.3 in his first four years combined.

    Leuer has yet to give a team the urge to play him in 40 or more games in a season. Davis hasn't developed his jump shot and has seen his rebounding average dip both seasons since his rookie year.

    The Ohio State product makes his home near the basket, taking 62 percent of his shots at the rim. That explains to a lesser extent his 58.1 percent field-goal mark. Still, one must respect the shooting ability of a big man who powered his way past opponents in a starting role for the Denver Nuggets last season.

    Averaging 11.1 rebounds per 36 minutes, Koufos is a force on the boards. He was fifth in offensive rebounding rate at 13.3 percent.

    Koufos produced 120 points per 100 possessions and allowed 103 per 100.

    That the Grizz have their first quality backup center in franchise history can't be understated. He'll be able to give Marc Gasol much-needed rest while giving Memphis quality play on both ends.

7. Tayshaun Prince

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    Tayshaun Prince will continue to start but won't do anything different from last year. He'll be a veteran presence who plays good defense and occasionally shoots.

    Prince wasn't efficient, scoring 8.8 points on 9.1 shots per game while shooting 42.9 percent. A helpful step would be taking more three-pointers. He hit 36.6 percent from beyond the arc but only took 1.1 per game.

    While he doesn't do much on offense, his defense is valuable enough to merit 30 minutes per game. He allowed 103 points per 100 possessions.

    With two years left on his contract, the 33-year-old could provide some value for his outsized salary by keeping up his defense and draining more treys.

6. Jerryd Bayless

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    Jerryd Bayless took a big step toward becoming a relevant reserve after the Rudy Gay trade. He went from scoring 7.6 points per game before the trade to 12.1 per game afterward.

    Next, Bayless must become a useful stand-alone shooter. Grantland's Zach Lowe noted that Bayless' is much less successful when Mike Conley isn't on the floor with him. Bayless needs to improve on creating for himself and finding his way as an independent ball-handler.

    He'll still be able to succeed to some extent by playing many of his minutes next to Conley, especially since the Grizz don't have a caretaker backup point guard.

    Bayless is only an average three-point shooter, having shot 35.3 percent in his second season with 70 games and at least 20 minutes per game.

    His defense has improved tremendously, as he improved his defensive rating for a second straight year, allowing 103 points per 100 possessions.

    Anyway, Bayless' shooting simply isn't good enough to make him the Grizzlies' best player off the bench.

5. Quincy Pondexter

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    Quincy Pondexter is on the biggest climb of any Grizzlies player. He greatly improved last season. His three-point mark went to 39.5 percent from 30.6 percent in 2011-12. Pondexter upped his scoring average to 6.4 per game from 4.2. 

    He's also become a respectable defender, allowing 104 points per 100 possessions, down from 106 the year before.

    Pondexter put up 15.3 points per game while hitting 46 percent from three-point range in the conference finals. But part of that may be attributed to the San Antonio Spurs attacking Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

    Still, the profile of this lean swingman is rising. Dave Joerger should feel comfortable using him frequently as a weapon on the perimeter.

4. Tony Allen

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    By retaining Tony Allen, the Grizz solidified the "grit 'n' grind" defense. He's led the defense the past three years. Last season, he made the All-Defensive First Team and placed fourth with a defensive rating of 98.4 points allowed per 100 possessions.

    He'll remain one of the two best perimeter defenders in the NBA for a couple of more campaigns. The 30-year-old cuts off passing lanes, tightens pressure in one-on-one situations and takes down opponents' best scorer. He was key in holding Kevin Durant to 35.8 percent from the field in the last three games of the conference finals.

    Allen's replaceable offense will hold him to around 26 minutes per game. He amounted 8.9 points per game on 44.5 percent from the field and produced 102 points per 100 possessions.

    With his shooting struggles, Pondexter and Bayless will find plenty of opportunities. 

    Nevertheless, Allen makes the team the defensive dynamo it is.

3. Zach Randolph

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    Randolph can still fire it up, but one must concede that he’s treading down the backside of his career. 

    The 31-year-old is one of the top rebounders in the league. He was fourth in rebounds per game (11.4), fourth in offensive rebounding percentage (13.8 percent) and fifth in total rebounding rate (19.3 percent).

    Those rates are a shade lower than what he did in 2010-11 but were second best in his career.

    He'll stay on near the top of the heap in rebounding for two or three more years. His conditioning is better than it was earlier in his career. Also, his positioning is superior.

    Meanwhile, his scoring is slipping. He shot 46 percent from the field, 4.3 percent below his mark from two years ago.

    He's less active in the offense, even with Rudy Gay gone. His usage rate was 23.1, down from 25 percent in his last full season.

    This is a smart trend for the Grizz, which are turning their attention to younger, more effective shooters in the half court.

2. Mike Conley

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    Mike Conley keeps raising his game, even as he enters his prime. He set career highs in scoring average (14.6 points per game), rebounds per game (2.8), steals (174) and defensive rating (100.2 points allowed per 100 possessions).

    Remarkably, Conley can still improve. He only had half a season as a scorer. A full season as a No. 1 scoring option could see him averaging 19 points per game.

    Conley averaged 6.4 assists per game after the Rudy Gay trade, compared with 5.8 beforehand. A full season with a more efficient offense could have him tally seven per game.

    The future is promising for Conley as a lead guard, especially since he's disciplined.

1. Marc Gasol

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    Gasol is emerging as the best center in the game. Dwight Howard may be a powerful force, but he isn't nearly the intellectual heavyweight that the Spaniard is. As Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk.com said in a WSCR-AM 670 Chicago interview, Howard takes too many shots after setting up on the block instead of playing more off the pick-and-roll, where he's most effective.

    Meanwhile, Gasol has a great sense of when to take shots and when to pass. He's one of the most effective jump-shooting big men, hitting 43.6 percent from between 10 and 15 feet and 48.5 percent from between 16 feet and the three-point line.

    His defense is incredible. Gasol was fifth in defensive rating, allowing 98.5 points per 100 possessions and second in defensive win shares (5.4). 

    He makes up for Randolph's lapses defending the post and, unlike Howard, rarely takes a possession off.

    Also, unlike other centers, Gasol is a solid free-throw shooter. He placed 19th, knocking down 84.8 percent from the charity stripe. Dirk Nowitzki (11th) was the only big man to rank higher.

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