By Nathan Grubel @The_Only_Grubes on May 29, 2014
The Memphis Grizzlies finished with a regular season record of 50-32 and lost in a close seven-game series to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. While there have been shake-ups in the front office, the starting unit should remain fairly intact due to previous success. Here is my prediction for how the starting five is going to look going into next season.
Conley has improved as a point guard every year, and it should not be a surprise to anyone if he finds a way to improve again for next year. Conley averaged 17.2 points and 6.0 assists per game during the regular season, proving he is more than capable of being an above average perimeter scorer and distributor. Conley must improve his three-point shot (36.1 percent this past season) if he wants to help his team reach new heights on offense.
Allen has never been the most talented scorer in the NBA (8.1 points per game for his career), but he is not in the starting lineup to provide efficient offense. Allen is a hound on defense who is as good of a perimeter defender as anyone else in the league (101 defensive rating this past season). With his toughness, the Grizzlies can excel as a defensive unit and create a lot of problems on that end of the floor for any team they face.
Pondexter was injured for the majority of this past regular season, but make no mistake -- he is a dangerous player when he is in the lineup. Pondexter is a reliable defender on the perimeter and he can hit three-point shots and spread the floor on offense. Pondexter is a great example of the "3 and D wing" the NBA has grown to need more of over the years, and he should be in Memphis' starting rotation if fully healthy.
Randolph is getting older (32 years old) but his game is not going away. Randolph posted averages of 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, which fall in line with his career averages for those two categories. He remains a valuable player on both ends of the floor and should see himself once again be a part of Memphis' fierce frontcourt tandem.
Gasol has quickly come into the conversation of best all-around center in the NBA. He can score, rebound, play defense and be a reliable distributor, making his game very valuable to the Grizzlies' success on both ends of the floor. Gasol should continue to get better as he is only entering his prime now (29 years old), so look for him to improve on his scoring in the low post and his efficiency in the mid-range.
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