We have reached the initial team that will win a ring this year without completely shocking the populace: 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), would be a surprise. Zach Randolph is 33, and Mike Miller, a crucial floor-spacing shot in last year’s underwhelming crime, followed LeBron James into the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Scoring, as always, will probably be a problem for the Grizz.
However, this team is going to defend like crazy, particularly with some slimmed-down Marc Gasol patrolling the middle ahead of the 2015 free agency. Toss in Tony Allen, the NBA’s scariest perimeter stopper, and you have got the key components for a league-best defense.
Vince Carter remains a valuable wing defender who can conduct a pick-and-roll and hit the occasional three, and Mike Conley is a playoff-tested fighter who just keeps getting better.
And remember, we’ve noticed this Grizzlies core knock off the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder in playoff show within the previous four years. Nobody scares Memphis in the postseason.
When the Grizzlies can remain healthier and Gasol puts a big year, they are a dark-horse contender.
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