5 Reasons Why Memphis Grizzlies Will Win 2013-14 NBA Title
Why the Memphis Grizzlies Will Win the NBA Title
The Memphis Grizzlies enter the 2013-14 NBA season as overlooked contenders in the Western Conference. And why shouldn't they be? It's not like they have made three-straight playoff runs and are fresh off an appearance in the Conference Finals.
The Los Angeles Clippers dominated the offseason headlines with the addition of a big-name coach that they hope will lead their roster full of pomp-and-circumstance to NBA glory. The Oklahoma City Thunder are still a popular pick to represent the West, even with the up-and-down status of Russell Westbrook's knee and the question marks that plague the rest of the roster after Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs got another year older, and will hope for one last final last run to avenge last year's heartbreaking seven-game loss to the Miami Heat.
Almost completely overlooked are the lowly Grizzlies. After all, how could a team with a point guard whose game is devoid of flash, and two workman-like All Stars in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol possibly contend for an NBA championship? It's never been done before, has it?
With a new wunderkind coach and the addition of some proven championship talent, Memphis will prove the doubters wrong, and hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy, while the rest of the Western Conference is left counting its All-Star nominations and MVP votes.
Mike Conley's Continued Development
Mike Conley has improved in every one of his six NBA seasons, and, partially due to the league's cadre of elite point guards, has become one of the league's most underrated players. One of the league's best defenders, Conley was third in the NBA in steals per game, is a great decision-maker and serves as the team's second-leading scorer.
If Conley takes the next step, he will earn some much-deserved All-Star consideration, and will lead the Grizzlies to the NBA Championship.
Due in part to the highly-criticized trade of Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies might have the most complete bench in the NBA. In Ed Davis, the team has one of the league's most athletic young big man to spell Gasol and Randolph, provide excellent shot-blocking and fill in for extra minutes in the event that either big is injured or in foul trouble.
Tayshaun Prince provides a little bit of everything, and will relish a full season as a contender in Memphis, after years of toiling away for the lottery-bound Detroit Pistons. With the free agent addition of Mike Miller, the team has the three-point specialist they needed in the Conference Finals against the Spurs, and an elite end-of-game offense-defense platoon at shooting guard with Tony Allen.
Throw in the explosive scoring of guard Jerryd Bayless, and first-year coach David Joerger will have plenty of options to close out playoff games.
The Best Post Play in the NBA
They say that dominant post play is dead in the NBA. Not in Memphis. In Randolph and Gasol, the Grizzlies boast the best power forward-center combination in the NBA. The duo is good for about 40 points and 20 rebounds per game, and anchor the defensive block on the other end of the court, as well.
In case either of the starters go down, the Grizzlies have more-than-capable insurance policies in the explosive Davis and seven-foot Kosta Koufos, fresh off his best season as a member of the Denver Nuggets.
Defense Wins Championships
With Mike Conley and Tony Allen, the Grizzlies have two of the best on-the-ball defenders in the NBA. With the flux of explosive scoring guards, they could not have two better options to mitigate the play of scorers like Chris Paul and James Harden, while Allen can cover the league's top small forwards, as well.
Tayshaun Prince provides more championship pedigree and more D off the bench, and if scorers can make it through the perimeter, they have Randolph, Gasol and/or Davis waiting for them on the block.
The 2003-04 Detroit Pistons
Two All Stars in the post, a solid-but-unspectacular point guard, a defense-first philosophy, multiple playoff runs under their belt and a deep and experienced bench. Sound familiar? It should.
Like the Pistons team that won it all, the Grizzlies will have to fight through flashier and maybe even more talented teams, via toughness, rebounding, clutch shooting and chemistry. Come playoff time, the Grizzlies will be overlooked in favor of teams like the Clippers and Thunder, but it will be the Grizzlies holding up the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June.
Alexander Diegel is a columnist for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @ItsaDiegel, "like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.