Memphis Grizzlies: A Shortened Schedule Could Land the Grizzlies a Top-3 Seed

David Heeb@@DavidHeebCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2011

The Memphis Grizzlies could be a sleeper team in the West.
The Memphis Grizzlies could be a sleeper team in the West.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Right now, NBA fans are looking at two choices: "bad" and "worse."

Either the entire NBA season will be cancelled, or a deal will be reached that leads to a very compressed 50-60 game schedule.

A compressed schedule means a lot more back-to-back games for teams, and even some three-out-of-four night affairs.  That is no fun for a veteran team. 

If you've ever played basketball, you know how hard it is to play when your legs are dead.  The older you get, it only complicates this problem. 

However, this could actually benefit some of the younger teams.  I think it could end up really helping the Memphis Grizzlies.

If the season is shortened like it was in 1999, the Grizzlies could be one of the top teams in the Western Conference.  The Grizzlies have a fairly young team with guys like Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley, Greivis Vasquez, Xavier Henry, Darrell Arthur, Marc Gasol, Sam Young and Josh Selby.

The Grizzlies only have two "old guys" on the roster in Shane Battier and Zach Randolph.  So all those back-to-backs should favor the younger, more athletic Grizzlies.

Now think about the other teams in the Western Conference who should contend for a top-three spot:

Los Angeles Lakers - An aging, big, slow team.  Their best player (Kobe) had a hard time making it through last season's "normal schedule" with his aching knees.

San Antonio Spurs - The Spurs showed their age last year, and playing a compressed schedule is only going to make things worse.  Ironic, isn't it?  San Antonio was the benefactor of a shortened season in 1999, winning the NBA championship.

Dallas Mavericks - The defending champs are also getting long in the tooth.  People forget, but the Mavs had a ton of injuries last season.  Over the course of an 82-game schedule, it allows time for guys to rehab and work their way back into the lineup.  A compressed 50-game schedule won't be as forgiving.

Denver Nuggets - Oops, I forgot, they will be in rebuilding mode.

Portland Trail Blazers - Can you imagine Brandon Roy's knees trying to make it through a compressed schedule?  And what about Greg Oden?  The Blazers are screwed.

New Orleans Hornets - David West is coming off of a major injury.  Chris Paul has had a history of leg/knee/ankle problems.  A shortened schedule won't do them any favors.

Oklahoma City Thunder - The Thunder are young, deep and athletic.  They could end up being the best team in the Western Conference due to the compressed schedule.

Another thing to consider, I think this season will be all about who has the best post players.  Simply put, dead legs equals a lot of bricks from the guards.  This was true during the 1999 season, as shooting percentages took a huge nosedive.  

Again, the Spurs were the Champs in 1999.  Think about the Spurs (Duncan, etc).  They were a power team.

That means the Grizzlies are sitting pretty going into a shortened season.  They are young, athletic, deep and they have one of the best "4-5" combos in the NBA with Gasol and Randolph. 

Worst case scenario, I think the Grizzlies will finish fourth in the West.  If they catch a break, they could finish as high as second.  Either way, it should be an exciting season of basketball in Memphis.

So this lockout isn't bad news for every team.  Now let's just hope David Stern doesn't cancel the entire season!