Grizzlies Enjoying Success After Recent Years of Struggle
After several years of struggle, the buzz for the Grizzlies is back in Memphis.
The Memphis Grizzlies went through a rough period after their star, Pau Gasol was traded in 2008 to the Los Angeles Lakers for his brother, Marc, Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, and draft picks. Out of this trade, only Marc Gasol and the 2010 draft pick (Greivis Vasquez). Of course Pau has gone to greater things in Los Angeles, being part of the back-to-back championship teams for the Lakers.
But even before Pau Gasol left Memphis, the Grizzlies were in a period of struggle in the final season and a half. After their last playoff appearance in 2006, Memphis had back-to-back 22-60 seasons, saw the retirement of general manager Jerry West, and a carousel of coaches (Mike Fratello, Tony Barone, Marc Iavaroni, Johnny Davis, and Lionel Hollins (in his third stint at Grizzlies' coach). During this period, the Grizzlies had a record of 108-220.
However, current Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace has made great moves and decisions and over time, the Grizzlies have been one of the pleasant surprises. The Allen Iverson experiment did not pan out as planned, and he left after three games after a dispute with coach Hollins. Iverson did not play any games in Memphis, with the vision of him being a box office draw for a team that has struggled in recent years.
With an improved roster for this season, led by Zach Randolph, and Rudy Gay, along with improved play by Mike Conley overall and Marc Gasol on defense, the Grizzlies are back in the playoffs for the first time in five years. However, they are 0-12 in playoff games (swept in 2004 by the San Antonio Spurs, 2005 by the Phoenix Suns, and in 2006 by the Dallas Mavericks).
It appears that things will be different this time around. With Hollins' coaching emphasized on defense, (Memphis is 12th in the NBA with 97.4 PPG allowed. Another reason things may be different: Against the top four seeds in the Western Conference, Memphis went 10-6 against the top four seeds in the Western Conference (2-2 against the Spurs and Lakers, and 3-1 against the Mavericks and Thunder). With this mindset, the Grizzlies will be a very tough draw for any team in the Western Conference.