Honorable Mentions: PG Jason Williams, SG Mike Miller, SG O.J. Mayo, C Lorenzen Wright, PG Mike Conley, C Marc Gasol, C Bryant Reeves
5) PF Shareef Abdur-Raheem (1996-2001) – 20.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.7 apg (Franchise leader in minutes per game and points per game.)
When Abdur-Raheem was a member of the Grizzlies, they had yet to hit the states. During the dark days in Vancouver, Raheem was the only glimpse of hope outside of Bryant Reeves. He was quality during his time though and, at times, goes under the radar when speaking on the best this franchise has seen. In his five seasons, Raheem never saw a winning season. In fact he never was on a team that won over 25 wins. We can’t blame him for the down times, but his performance was never lackluster. In the end he was traded for Pau and that’s when the franchises fortunes changed.
4) SF Rudy Gay (2006- present) – 18 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2 apg (Franchise leader in field goal attempts and steals.)
Rudy has had an interesting career so far and has enough potential to possibly move up to the number one spot. Rudy has been one of the best scorer’s this franchise has seen and he’s growing ever year. He doesn’t have a playoff series under his belt due to missing the 2011 playoffs, but his play next season balanced it well. Gay’s legacy will be based off what he will do in the coming years as the team has a supporting cast well enough to compete for, or close to, an NBA champion.
3) SF Shane Battier (2001-2006; 2010-2011) – 9.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 10.1 apg
If you’re looking at the numbers, then Shane Battier probably isn’t a top 10 Grizzly, but his impact on the franchise on and off the court is far more important than any number. Of the five playoff appearances in franchise history, Battier was a key component in four of those including his efforts in helping the Grizzlies win their first playoff series. He’s the ultimate glue guy for this franchise or anywhere else he’s played. He’s been as important to this franchise as any other player.
2) PF Zach Randolph (2009 – present) – 17.5 ppg, 10.63 rpb, 1.9 apg (Franchise leader in rebounds per game.)
In three years, Randolph went from “the player that nobody wants” to being the second best player for the Grizzlies. In his first two seasons with the team, Randolph averaged 20/12 a game. His presence alone has propelled the team to two of the most successful seasons in its’ history including his awe inspiring performance in the first round series of the 2011 playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs, which led Memphis to winning their first playoff series in franchise. With a few more winning seasons, Randolph may become the greatest to play for the team, but until then those honors go to…
1) PF/C Pau Gasol (2001-2008) – 18.8 ppg, 8.6 rpb, 3.05 apg (Franchise leader in games played, minutes played, free throws, rebounds, blocks, player efficiency rating and win shares.)
There is a love/hate relationship in Memphis for the franchises greatest player. Before Gasol was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol was this city’s everything. Though a playoff game was never during his six and a half year tenure, Gasol was the reason the team saw the playoffs for three consecutive years. Defensively, Gasol was never a stud, but his post-game and passing abilities rivaled none during his years. Without Pau, Memphis would have never been the team it is today. Had there been a better surrounding cast, maybe Gasol has a few playoff wins on his record, but he may do with what he had and with that he’s the number one Grizzly of all-time.