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Mike Conley

MAMBINO’s Western Conference Finals Preview

2) San Antonio Spurs vs. 5) Memphis Grizzlies
 
Why do the Memphis Grizzlies take the series in 6 games?
 
KOBEsh: Like a phantom deep out of the nightmares of children all over Southwestern Texas, the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies have come back to haunt the San Antonio Spurs. Again. And everyone knows it.
 
In a strange turn of events, the blogosphere has pejoratively completely ruled out the 58-win Spurs from having any chance of winning this series. In an informal poll of all the hoophead nerds at MAMBINO, only one writer even suggested San Antonio could win this series … and that it would take 7 games to do so.
 
How can the Grizz be favored like this?
 
1) In a tightly contested Western Conference, the Grizz won 56 games—just two back of the 58-win Spurs
 
Their first round opponents, the fourth-seeded Clippers, finished the season with the exact same win total, but won home court advantage on a conference record tie-breaker. The third-seeded team, the Denver Nuggets, won 57 games—just one game ahead. The Spurs meanwhile, took home a 58-24 record. Though this is a 2-5 matchup, the difference between the two teams isn’t nearly as lopsided as the deceiving seeding positions would suggest.… Read more...

BQ #4: Can Memphis continue their playoff success during the regular season? Can Zach Randolph be an MVP?

We would have loved to finish all the burning questions before the season started. Really, truly. But we both work full-time jobs, with bars to go to and rent to pay. We would love to apologize, but we do this for free. Handle it.

Why is this even a question?

The Grizzlies were once the laughing stock of the league; not just because of their poor on-court performance, but even more so because of their poor front office management that only prolonged their in-game deficiencies. In a few short years, GM Chris Wallace traded 26 year old 7 foot star Pau Gasol to the Lakers for 27 year old draft bust Kwame Brown, Pau’s fat brother Marc Gasol and a draft pick. He drafted All-Star Kevin Love, only to trade him to Minnesota for the disappointing OJ Mayo. Only two years ago, with the number two pick in the 2009 Draft, Wallace took Hasheem Thabeet, whose only discernable NBA skill seems to be being 7’3″. Thabeet was selected over other more talented, albeit shorter, players like Tyreke Evans, James Harden and Eric Gordon. Extensions were handed out to Rudy Gay ($82 million) and Mike Conley ($45 million), when most critics argued that both players were worth only 2/3 of that.

Then something miraculous happened; all of the moves started making sense. Pau’s fat brother turned out to be one of the league’s most effective centers. Marc was recently rewarded with a $55 million dollar contract extension. With the Lakers’ pick, Memphis selected young, fearless guard Greivis Vazquez. Draftee Mike Conley went from potential bust to NBA-quality point guard and Rudy Gay proved to be worth the money so many thought he did not earn. The most unforeseen benefit of all these moves was that the cap room created by Kwame’s expiring contract allowed the Grizz to trade for undervalued head case Zach Randolph.

Last May, the Grizzlies barely beat out competing Suns and Rockets squads from making the playoffs as an 8th seed. Many people saw them giving the top-seeded Spurs a hard time en route to a definite San Antonio victory, but nothing more.

There are a lot of really good NBA players, but very few elite NBA players. I don’t really know why this is. What’s the difference between OJ Mayo and Dwyane Wade? Well, the easy answer is that Wade is just much better than Mayo. He gets to the rim whenever he wants, possesses tremendous court vision and always seems to get a bucket whenever his team needs him the most. But…couldn’t OJ Mayo do this? Couldn’t he see the court as well as Wade? Could he weave in and out of the lane and get to the basket as easy as #3? And let’s expand this further; could we apply all these same questions to Eric Gordon, Josh Smith, DeMar DeRozan and Monta Ellis? I think they all could be as good as Dwyane Wade. But they aren’t. While some of these guys give or take in athleticism or natural skill, the advantages that each man has in some facet of his game should be enough to equalize the playing field. It doesn’t though. Physically, I don’t know that there’s a large difference. I can’t tell you why Wade is an elite player and these other guys are not.

This is how everyone used to feel about Zach Randolph. I could have written the same paragraph about him, comparing Z-Bo to Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Duncan or Charles Barkley…except instead of “I can’t tell you what the difference is”, I would think “well, because he’s crazy”. Some guys, like Z-Bo, don’t make THE LEAP because something in their minds is h… Read more...