When the Memphis Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol before last year’s trading deadline, it appeared that they were going to be a lottery team for a while.
That still might happen, but they aren’t going to be a complete bore this season.
The Grizzlies are at least making an attempt at becoming a serious team this season with some of their activity this year. First they pretty much traded Mike Miller and Kevin Love for OJ Mayo.
I realize that many believe this was a bad deal, but I’m convinced that Mayo is going to be a lot better than people think he is. Miller was a good shooter, but was never going to be a great player while it seems like Love carries many more risks than Mayo.
The former USC standout is actually closer to 21 than he is 19 and has always been more mature than players his age. I’m also not convinced that he had a real chance of displaying all his skills under USC coach Tim Floyd’s system because he was getting the ball very late in the shot clock.
There is a reason Mayo’s draft stock shot up during the NBA pre-draft workouts. For the first time, Mayo is going to give the Grizzlies someone to build a team around.
I know Grizzlies fans thought Gasol would be that guy, but, as we are seeing now, he is a much better player when he is the second or third option instead of the first. Mayo has been the first option his whole life and will become the Grizzlies’ first option in the NBA.
Memphis also did a solid job of giving Mayo enough weapons to turn the Grizzlies into a playoff team at some point. Marc Gasol gives the Grizzlies a true center, is very aggressive, and might have as successful of a season as Michael Beasley or Greg Oden for their respective teams.
In Pau’s absence, Rudy Gay has stepped up and become the team’s best player on offense. That should be the case again this year, and with a more mature Mike Conley, Gay will have plenty of good scoring opportunities.
Memphis lost one of its most effective guards in Juan Carlos Navarro, yet it’s remained one of the team’s strengths as far as depth is concerned.
Now, the Grizzlies are looking at possibly trading Marko Jaric and Darko Milicic for Zach Randolph. It’s a deal that would make quite a statement that the Grizzlies are serious about winning.
He is by no means the answer to all of the Grizzlies problems, but he is going to make Memphis a much better team if this trade goes through.
It will be getting rid of an unnecessary guard and a forward who can’t seem to live up to his potential. In return, they are getting a guy who averaged nearly 18 points and 10 rebounds.
More importantly, he takes up space, giving the Grizzlies a big frontcourt to go alongside Marc Gasol and Gay.
The move would also solidify the bench with Hakim Warrick and Antoine Walker coming off the bench, while a rookie with great potential, Darrell Arthur, can watch from the bench.
This team will no doubt have struggles in the Western Conference and might be three or four seasons from even making the playoffs. But if you’re looking for a team to surprise people, take a look at the Grizzlies, who are slowly and quietly becoming a young-but-promising team in the league.