NBA Preview: Memphis Grizzles vs. Sacramento Kings

By Ricardo A. Hazell
Kelley L. Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, the Sacramento Kings seem to be two or three players away from respectability, and every year the team falls even deeper in to the abyss of their own basketball banishment.

This season, the squad is once again torturing its fans with its brand of faux-professional basketball. Okay, they aren’t as bad as usual. They currently lead the league in fewest turnovers per game. The tragically underachieving talent of Tyreke Evans is now in New Orleans.

The Kings have new owners and a front office that has gone all-in on center DeMarcus Cousins as the man to lead Sacramento. The one-time volatile center has maintained his cool for the better part of the season thus far, but we’ll see if he remains levelheaded as the losses continue to mount.

Though Greivis Vasquez is the starting point guard, Isaiah Thomas provides a great scoring threat off the bench and is the second-leading scorer on the team at 18 points per game. There in lies the problem — outside of Cousins’ 23 points and 10 boards per game, there is no one else on the team providing a significant amount of scoring or rebounding.

Rookie Ben McLemore has been struggling with his shot and with the speed of the pro game thus far. PF Jason Thompson is painfully average, and please don’t get me started on Jimmer Fredette. He can contribute in the right system, but this clearly isn’t that system. Can you say trade bait? Even if they could find someone to take him, what they would get in return couldn’t possibly help them in the short term.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when the Memphis Grizzlies were a lovable, yet rugged bunch of NBA rebels parceled together with blood, guts, malcontents, draft busts and tears? Lots and lost of tears? Well, that bunch is transforming into a group of rundown vets on the fast track to age-induced mediocrity before our very eyes.

Mike Conley is the their youngest starter at 26-years-old. Marc Gasol is 29, Zach Randolph is 32, Tony Allen is 32 and Tayshaun Prince is 33. Though I don’t expect them to disintegrate into a pile of ashes like an unraveled mummy, time is ticking away for a Memphis team that hasn’t gotten any better since defeating the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs in 2011.

Conley and Jarred Bayless are the team’s only viable perimeter scoring threats. Gasol appears to be gearing up for another respectable season stat-wise, and the tandem he forms with Zach “Z-Bo” Randolph is still among the most formidable in the NBA, but they have proven to be vulnerable to teams with deep rotations at center and power forward.

I’m not sure how much longer this Grizzlies team can go running its offense through Gasol and Randolph. But, despite the doom-and-gloom tone of my prognostication, the Grizzles should have more than enough in the tank to plow through a Sacramento team that lacks girth aside from Cousins. Memphis will win this one by at least 10.

Ricardo A. Hazell is a freelance writer for Rant Sports and is based in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.

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