Studs and Duds from Memphis Grizzlies' First Slate of Games

Tom FirmeAnalyst IINovember 6, 2013

Studs and Duds from Memphis Grizzlies' First Slate of Games

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    Mike Conley downed a pair of free throws to put the Memphis Grizzlies at an even record through four games. Conley's scoring is part of the reason why the Grizzlies have something to show forth after a week of play.

    The seventh-year point guard continues to validate the faith Memphis' management has placed in him, furthering his game after discovering his production abilities in February. He has two 20-point games thus far.

    Zach Randolph is burning away in his 13th pro season, putting forth a shooting streak in the last three games.

    On the other hand, most bench players haven't thrilled the fans of the "grit 'n' grind." Ed Davis, Quincy Pondexter and Kosta Koufos have underwhelmed through the first few games.

    Follow along for a look at how some players have helped or hurt the Grizzlies' cause.

    Statistics are current through Nov. 5 games.

Stud: Mike Conley

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    After emerging as a scorer in the second half of last season, Mike Conley is keeping up the approach. He's leading the Grizzlies in scoring with 18.8 points per game. Conley scored 22 and 24 points against the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks, respectively.

    He's aggressive taking shots. In three of the first four games, he put up 14 or more shots. That comes with some marksmanship, as he's made 44.1 percent from the field.

    Also, he's been true at the free-throw line, nailing 95.2 percent.

    Conley is moving the ball fairly well, averaging 6.8 assists per game. After turning it over five times against the Pistons, he's only coughed it up three times in the last two games.

    The 26-year-old's production is greatly needed as the Grizz offense shifts in Dave Joerger's early moments as coach.

Dud: Quincy Pondexter

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    Quincy Pondexter may be past the flash in the pan he was afforded in the Western Conference Finals, but Grizz fans must wonder about the guy who knocked down 47 percent from downtown that series.

    Pondexter, who is averaging 7.3 points per game, is anything but a sure thing as a shooter through four games. He's hitting 36 percent from the field. Meanwhile, he's hitting 38.5 percent from three-point range. 

    While that's a nice clip, he hasn't hit his stride. After draining 2-of-4 in the opener against the San Antonio Spurs, Pondexter made 1-of-6 in the following two games before making 2-of-3 on Monday.

    Additionally, he has a strange disparity between three-point and two-point shooting. He's made only a third of his shots inside the arc, and he's made just one attempt from inside 23 feet in the last three games.

    Also, Pondexter's ball control has been unimpressive. He's averaging 3.5 turnovers per 36 minutes, having coughed it up twice in three straight games.

    The fourth-year pro did fine work last year to earn a four-year extension, but he'll need to clean up his game to show his worth.

Stud: Zach Randolph

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    While his role has diminished, Zach Randolph remains a force for the Grizzlies. He produces a fair amount despite taking only 11.5 shots per game.

    Randolph's offense has been terrific since a poor opener. Since shooting 1-of-6 against the Spurs, he has hit 55 percent from the field en route to 19 points per game. He's also managed to make eight of his first nine free-throw attempts of the season. 

    His work on the boards has been fine. Randolph is averaging 9.5 rebounds per game, including three on the offensive glass.

    The 32-year-old has two double-doubles thus far, including a 21-point, 14-rebound performance against the Mavericks on Saturday.

    With each stellar outing, he comes a bit closer to securing the wish he expressed to Marc Stein of ESPN about retiring in Memphis.

Dud: Kosta Koufos

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    While Kosta Koufos has fared better than any other backup big man for the Grizz, that doesn't say much about his performance.

    Koufos, who shoots almost exclusively at the rim, has made only half of his 20 shots. He's also shooting just 3-of-9 from the line. Meanwhile, his scoring output is fairly significant at 6.3 points per game.

    His rebounding has been underwhelming. He's averaging 9.6 boards per 36 minutes and has pulled down more than three once.

    The offseason acquisition from the Denver Nuggets is receiving 15 minutes per game, but he should step up in order for Marc Gasol to find the rest he needs down the stretch.

Stud: Jerryd Bayless

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    Jerryd Bayless is showing swagger in early contests. He's leading the bench effort with 10 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting. Bayless came through against the Boston Celtics on Monday with 15 points on 6-of-11 from the field.

    Bayless has done well shooting from long range. He's hit 36.4 percent.

    The 25-year-old, who has grabbed 1.9 rebounds per game for his career, has worked the glass more than usual to start the season. He's pulled down 3.5 per game. Against the Mavericks, he swiped seven misses from the air.

    Bayless shoots inconsistently, but if he can keep up his scoring, he may spark a Grizz offense that remains tepid.

Dud: Ed Davis

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    The man who has been considered the successor to Zach Randolph as the Grizzlies' starting power forward is struggling to prove himself fit for the job. Ed Davis is playing 9.5 minutes per game and doing little with his scarce minutes to make his case.

    Davis hasn't shot close to his ability. He's hit 45.5 percent from the field, 8.9 percent worse than his career average. He managed to take six shots in eight minutes against the Celtics but only made two of them. By this path, he's averaging 2.8 points per game.

    While he has a great reputation on the boards, Davis has only pulled down 9.5 per 36 minutes.

    His defense is lagging. He's allowed 108 points per 100 possessions. Davis has only one block so far, which isn't good for someone who averages a block per game for his career.

    Davis has plenty of time to show that Memphis chose incorrectly by not extending him last week. He must make the most of it to notify the Grizz brass that he's ready to take the starting job.