Grizzlies fans can’t help but believe this years team will be closer to the 2011 team and better than last years team. Zach Randolph should be back to 100 percent and he and Rudy Gay should only get better together. Marc Gasol is still one of the top 3 passing big men, if not the best, in the league, and Mike Conley Jr. came to camp bigger, stronger and more confident; he should be poised for a breakout season. Rudy Gay is still a top 25 player that can go for 25+ every night. No doubt the loss of O.J. Mayo hurts a team already lacking in three point shooting, but the additions of Jerryd Bayless and Wayne Ellington should provide a boost in shooting. Additionally, Josh Selby showed some promise in the summer league. You could even argue, that Jerryd Bayless is a better fit than Mayo, who struggled to run the point last season when Conley was on the bench. Bayless should provide better shooting and solid point guard play to give Mike Conley, who averaged over 40 minutes per game last season, some rest. At worst, Bayless will be able to keep the team afloat. Speight has looked great in camp and during the preseason; he is in shape and active on both ends of the court. The Grizzlies, also, expect Darrell Arthur to return sometime in late November or December. A Speights/Arthur frontcourt could give some rest to Gasol and Randolph, and even get some good production of their own. It will also be interesting to watch if Coach Hollins follows the trend of the rest of the league of playing smaller lineups. This Memphis team’s identity will always be inside-out, but Hollins may play Rudy Gay at power forward in a similar lineup to Miami’s Chalmers-Wade-Battier-James-Bosh. I think they will finish fourth in the western conference with 49 wins, and a realistic playoff expectation is a first-round series win and being eliminated by most likely the Lakers with the one seed. I imagine Gasol will make the All-star Team behind Howard, and Tony Allen will make all defensive second team.
The 2012-2013 NBA basketball season tips off tomorrow night, and I have decided to begin blogging about the NBA. I began heavily watching the league during the 2011 playoffs, when Dallas won the title. I have been hooked ever since. I will focus on the Memphis Grizzlies, since I live in Memphis and have access to the team, but I will look at other teams around the league, as well. I am very new at this and hopefully I can get the layout looking more professional soon. Follow me on twitter @TheNBAHunter.