We have reached the initial team that will win a ring this season without fully shocking the people: the Memphis Grizzlies.
Rest assured a championship for the Grizzlies, who barely made it into the postseason last year with a record of 50-32 (your 17th reminder that the West is loaded), could be a surprise. Zach Randolph is 33, and Mike Miller, a key floor-spacing shooter in the past year’s underwhelming offense, followed LeBron James into the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Scoring, as always, will probably be a problem for the Grizz.
However, this team will defend like crazy, especially with some slimmed-down Marc Gasol patrolling the midst ahead of his 2015 free agency. Toss in Tony Allen, the NBA’s funniest perimeter stopper, and you have got the key components to get a league-best defense.
Vince Carter remains a valuable wing defender who can run a pick-and-roll and hit the three, and Mike Conley is a playoff-tested fighter who just keeps getting better.
And remember, we have seen this Grizzlies core knock off the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder in playoff series over the last four years. Nobody scares Memphis from the postseason.
When the Grizzlies can stay healthier and Gasol puts a significant year, they’re a dark-horse contender.
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