Defense has been the thing to carry the Grizzlies through every challenge they have faced, and it gives the team a reliable identity and foundation to build upon. While defense does win championships, a team has to be able to put points on the board in order to win the game. Out west, it is all about efficient offense and highlight plays, two things the Grizzlies are not used to having on their team.
Fortunately for the Grizzlies, however, that may soon change with the roster moves that the team has made this offseason.
It started with the drafting of two young players with a considerable amount of upside in Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes. Adams is a crafty scorer who knows how to get baskets both inside and outside. Adams is great when driving to the basket because he has the basketball IQ and body control to be able to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line, as well as finish tough shots and find his teammates when the play breaks down. He can also shoot with range, which is something the Grizzlies have lacked.
As for Stokes, he is a 6-foot-9 forward capable of being a real tough force in the paint. Stokes plays with fire and intensity on both ends of the floor, and knows how to clean the glass and rebound at a very high rate, something that the Grizzlies’ big men love to do. Stokes is a great complement to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol because he embodies the same grit-and-grind tendencies as both players; so head coach Dave Joerger does not have to worry about giving one of them a rest as long as Stokes can be out on the floor. Both players are very young, but have the physical and mental tools to be able to contribute right away and help the team win some key games.
As for the veteran players, the Grizzlies were able to retain Randolph, which is important because he is the heart and soul of what the Grizzlies do, which is play from the inside-out. Randolph gives the Grizzlies a great low-scoring post presence who can get buckets in a pinch as well as rebound the ball and keep players of the opposing team from crashing the boards. Him and Gasol make a great team because Randolph can stay in the low post and do his thing there, while Gasol can play in the high post and either facilitate for his team or hit the mid-range jump shot with consistency.
The Grizzlies were also able to sign guard Vince Carter, who should give the Grizzlies some shooting and playmaking in the backcourt that the team needs to be true contenders in the West.
Are the Grizzlies contenders? The foundation of the roster is solid, with Randolph, Gasol and Mike Conley all being terrific players at their respective positions, and support pieces like Tony Allen, Carter and the new rookies Stokes and Adams really give the Grizzlies some quality parts moving forward. If the team can continue to play the brand of defense it has been capable of, as well as generate offense and get contributions on offense from some of its bench players, then there is no reason why the Grizzlies cannot make a deep playoff run this upcoming season.
The Grizzlies have added offense and retained their defensive presence. Look out for a more dangerous team this coming season.