Challeges For The Memphis Grizzlies

Mario ScottContributor IJuly 15, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 03:  O.J. Mayo #32 and Marc Gasol #33 hold back Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies after drawing a technical foul for arguing with a referee during the game against the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena on March 3, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Grizzlies defeated the Hornets 104-100.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images



As the competitive landscape changes in the NBA, you have to ask yourself, has this change benefited the Grizzlies. The answer happen to be no.  Or the real answer is that the Grizzlies are in no better or worse position than they were in at this time last year in relation to their division, conference and the NBA as a whole.

The Southwest division may not be the strongest division in the NBA, but can certainly be considered one of the fiercest competitive divisions in basketball.  The Dallas Mavericks havent done anything yet to improve their team, but the argument could be made that they do not need too many improvements. The San Antonio Spurs always find the right pieces in the draft, off season picks, and trades to consistently be in the playoff race and in the mix for the NBA Finals. The Spurs might be old, but they age like a fine wine. Both the Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Hornets lost the stars last year. The Rockets have a better upside than the Hornets do with the return of Yao Ming and the strong core of Aaron Brooks and Trevor Ariza coming back.

The Western Conference for the past couple of years has been the varsity league of the NBA. That may have change in the current make up of the NBA, but this does not diminish how cutthroat the Western Conference still remains. Now that two playoff spots might have opened, the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz, the glimmer of hope falls on the bubble teams to rise up and take these spot. The problem is identifying who are the bubble teams this early in the off season or for that matter if the Suns or Jazz actually fall out of contention.

Now for the NBA as a whole, the junior varsity moniker has been the bane of Eastern Conference, even thou in the last five years they have two champions, 3 champions in the last ten years. But the lack of parity in the teams in the east has the lasting effect of the teams on top stay on top and everyone else is a race for the bottom. Even with the new power house of the Miami Heat does not change the complexion of the east all that much.  The Heat has not missed the playoffs since 2003 and one of those years, they won a championship.  And if the Cleveland Cavaliers can play at least 500 ball, they have a chance of making the back to the playoffs.

So how does all this equal the Grizzlies not moving up or down? Because, in the grand scheme of things nothing has changed, the southwest division is still fiercely competitive, there are still ten good teams trying to fit into eight playoff spots, and the east is still top heave with talented teams. But all is not lost, certain things can happen to thrust the Grizzlies into the playoffs, all beyond the Grizzlies control. If the Suns and Jazz completely collapse next year and the Hornets preform just like they did last year, then the Grizzlies are in the playoffs. But that might be highly unlikely. We can always dream.