It takes a lot for a team to be able to win an NBA championship.
There needs to be quality players who are part of a top-notch system put into place by a balanced coach. One more ingredient that sort of holds that all together is leadership. A contending team needs veteran leadership in order to properly face adversity and rise above all of the challenges a season holds, such as injuries, off the court distractions and losing streaks. All of these things are bound to happen over the course of the regular season and playoffs, and it takes experienced players to calm the nerves and ease the tensions of the younger players around them.
Point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol have to be considered veteran leaders at this point for the Memphis Grizzlies, as they have both been around the league for quite some time now and have been with the team through the ups and downs, even going as far as the Western Conference Finals. Both have improved their games tremendously, and should be looked at as proper examples of how to be a professional in the NBA.
However, despite being leaders on the team, neither is the standout veteran that power forward Zach Randolph is.
Randolph has been in the league for the longest out of the three, and has been the most productive player overall out of the three as well. Randolph is the one player for the Grizzlies who demands a constant double team, and for good reason.
Randolph is a beast in the paint, as he is able to utilize his size and strength along with his excellent footwork to create advantages and opportunities in the post where he is most effective. Along with his array of moves in the post including hooks and up and under moves, Randolph is one of the better rebounders in the league on both ends of the floor. Randolph is one of the better players in the league in terms of boxing out his opponents so he can hit the boards effectively.
Not only has Randolph been incredibly effective on the floor, but he also used to be one of the more rebellious players the NBA had to offer. Randolph did not carry the best attitude with him when he was drafted, but as he bounced around teams, Randolph learned a lot of important lessons that allowed him to embrace a leadership role with the Grizzlies. Randolph has been in many different situations, and that experience alone makes him the most qualified leader the Grizzlies have.
Conley and Gasol are both great players and up and coming talents, but Randolph is a dominant player with a lot of experience who embraces adversity and brings his team through it. As long as Randolph is on the Grizzlies, this team will be a contender in the Western Conference.