In the 2011 NBA Playoffs, the Memphis Grizzlies went out with a bang. The Grizzlies were able to upset the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs. They were then able to go seven games into a series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
A lot of NBA fans were taken aback by the Grizzlies' success, but the Grizzlies weren't just overachieving. This was a team that had the right pieces to compete in the Western Conference and the NBA altogether.
Continue reading to find out five reasons that the Grizzlies can carry their success over to next season and compete for an NBA title.
One of the reasons many experts thought that the Grizzlies would get blown out of the water against the Spurs was their lack of playoff experience. Even their best veteran, Zach Randolph, wasn't a guy who has been to the playoffs often in his career.
One year removed from their magical run in the playoffs, the Grizzlies now have the experience they need to get to the next level. Considering they are going to return almost exactly the same team, they should be a force to be reckoned with.
Now the team that was able to do so much with young players last season can rely on themselves and not just the experience of guys like Shane Battier and Tony Allen.
Last season, the Grizzlies had one of the most balanced starting lineups in the entire league. Their starting lineup that consisted of Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo (until Allen replaced him), Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol worked as a team, and no player was more important than the next.
Each player averaged more than 10 points per game, and the leading scorer was Zach Randolph at 22.2 points per game, which is very good, but not among the league's best.
Having each player in your starting five be as much of a threat as the next is something that keeps teams honest and forces them to guard each player one on one for the most part.
Even with the success the Grizzlies had during the postseason last year, something was missing.
That something? Rudy Gay.
The Grizzlies were missing their stud scorer from the wing in Rudy Gay in last year's playoffs and still managed to do what they did. Last season, Gay averaged 19.8 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game. That's a lot of missing scoring and rebounding.
Gay is going to give the Grizzlies more versatility and another option to take the pressure off of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in the paint...which brings me to my next point.
The Grizzlies have what could easily be the best frontcourt in all of the NBA.
Zach Randolph proved to be a top-three power forward in the NBA during last year's playoffs, and Gasol isn't that much further behind for centers. Marc has quickly moved up the ranks as a dominant center in the NBA and as he gets in better shape, he'll continue to be more respected throughout the league.
Big men can win championships for teams and with the best combo in the league, the Grizzlies can certainly win an NBA Championship.
The Grizzlies' success came from more than just their starting five. Memphis had an abundance of key contributors on their roster, and their bench was one of the reasons they played so well in the playoffs.
Darrell Arthur could be a starting power forward on a lot of different NBA teams. He is athletic and plays well on both sides of the ball. Shane Battier and Tony Allen served as defense-first players that have tons of playoff experience. There was then Greivis Vasquez, who came in and allowed Mike Conley to get some well-deserved rest.
This year they only have more talent coming off their bench with the addition of Josh Selby. Selby is a young point guard with a ton of potential. He has been putting up incredible numbers in the Impact League in Vegas while the lockout continues and that is something that should make Memphis fans very happy.