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Memphis Grizzlies, Page 2

WWE for a NBA Fan – Southwest Division (Part 4)

It has returned MAMBINO-maniacs – the WWE for an NBA series has invaded the Southwest division. As always, this post will give the best comparable for YOUR…favorite NBA team, with metrics based on the team’s style of play, personnel and of course, attitude and tenor of the fan base that makes their existence possible.

Memphis Grizzlies: Wade Barrett

In Memphis, the basketball team of choice is the University of Memphis Tigers. With over a dozen NCAA tournament berths and three Final Four appearances, the city will always have its heart with the Tigers, though any attention on the periphery may monetarily take away attention from the main attraction. This momentary distraction would be the trendy Finals pick Memphis Grizzlies.

I for one, see the Grizz as more than just a trendy pick – they are the real deal Holyfield. They are young, hungry, and have the look of a champion. There is no reason they cannot be the best in the world, other than any internal problem holding them back. I could have cut and pasted those last few sentences to sum up how I have felt for the past 3 years about Wade Barrett.

Barrett is the Memphis Grizzlies of the WWE. There is nothing about him, on paper, to suggest that he is anything but a title contender. He is one of the very best talkers in the company, who can ably hold a conversation or throw down a scathing promo in front of the thousands in attendance, and the millions watching at home. In the ring, his skills are somewhat raw, but ultimately can wrestle just enough for me take him seriously as a major player. His move set augments the most impressive facets of his body and size – his massive wingspan and impressive shoulder width. The only thing holding back Wade Barrett from being world champion (aside from backstage politics), is time and other top contenders in the WWE.

For all of Barrett’s skill, size and personality, there are a ton of already established, homegrown big men that Vince McMahon knows he can rely on. With the Big Show, Mark Henry, Kane and Sheamus on the roster, Vince already has his Memphis Tigers. Barrett, while up and coming, is simply an on-paper player, and more importantly a substantial risk, especially when compared with the already proven big men of the WWE.

Grizz fans will understand the position that Wade Barrett is in. They will root for him like their own. Because that is what he is. A big British dude that a bunch of Tennesseans can connect with.

Dallas Mavericks: Jack Swagger

Shawn Marion said a few weeks ago that the Dallas Mavericks don’t seem to be getting enough respect from the NBA public as the reigning champions. Well Shawn, maybe if you had won opening week and hadn’t gotten blown out at home in your first two games, then you’d get a little more of that respect you think you deserve.

But this isn’t a post to deride the 2011 World Champion NBA Mavericks or it’s fan base. This is a post to celebrate the best qualities of everything that embodies Dallas’ titlists and best identify those with a WWE Superstar. That man would be Jack Swagger.

First and foremost, just look at the guy. If he doesn’t just scream North Texas and Midwest America, I don’t know what does. Swagger goes a legit 6’5″, 260 lbs, with an athletic background in collegiate amateur wrestling and football. He attended the University of Oklahoma (which might not jibe with everyone in Dallas, though the city does have it’s fair share of OU alums), where he set a NCAA record for pins in a single season as a senior. He rightfull… 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...

If I were GM of…the Memphis Grizzlies

Even with their 2010-2011 season coming to a halt as an 8-seed in the second round of the playoffs, I still am not positive that the Memphis Grizzlies are the team they appear to be. Zach Randolph looked like the best forward in the league for a month, Pau’s brother almost was good enough for me to learn his first name and Mike Conley seemingly tried to throw it in every critics face every night. They dismantled the number one seed San Antonio Spurs and took the Thunder to a game 7. But this team only won 46 games in the regular season – record-wise, they weren’t much better than the Orlando Magic or Atlanta Hawks. Was their run because their players got hot at the right time, like what happens in MLB playoffs? Or was it because the Spurs and Thunder weren’t prepared for all the trouble an 8-seed could give them? I’m still not sure how good they were.

But going forward, you have to ride the wave of positivity and hope that what we saw over the past month wasn’t a fluke or a hot streak – we have to assume that this is who the Grizzlies really are.

Zach Randolph:
Rudy Gay: 15 million
Mike Conley: 6.5 million
OJ Mayo: 5.6 million
Tony Allen: 3.1 million
Xavier Henry: 2.17 million
Hamed Haddadi: 2 million (qualifying offer)
Darrell Arthur: 2 million
Greivis Vasquez: 1.11 million
Sam Young: 947,800 (team option)
Ishamel Smith: 788,872
Total: 50 million

Marko Jaric (seriously): 6.5 million
Shane Battier: 7.3 million
Pau’s brother: 3.48 million
A bunch of deadbeats: 1 million
Total: 18.3 million

The Grizzlies’ first priority would have been extending Z-Bo, but oddly enough, they might have already done that. At 4-years and 70 million, I am shocked to write that that might have even been at a small discount for Memphis. After way he played in the playoffs, he could have gotten 5 years, 100 million. Crazytown.

1). Sign Pau’s brother on your terms rather than allow another team to sign him to an offer sheet

Well, one good thing had to happen to a Gasol family member this summer. Pau’s brother is going to get PAID whenever the free agency period begins, and paid big. Somehow, Pau’s brother went from a throw-in in a monster trade to one of the key pieces to a team that nearly made it to the Western Conference Finals.

(By the way, I’m not sure how Pau’s brother got so completely overlooked in the Pau Gasol to the Lakers deal. If you have a guy like Pau – former all-star, extremely skilled, high basketball IQ – wouldn’t you think that his brother would be pretty good? Another guy with the same GENETIC MAKEUP, except with 40 more pounds? How did we not see this coming? Either Chris Wallace is much smarter than we all knew, or he’s just extremely lucky. I’d side with the latter. See no. 5 please)

His career averages lie at 12.7 ppg, 7.8 rebounds, 71.5% FT, 54.5 FG%, 1.4 bpg, 2.2 apg. He’s 26 years old. He’s in just his third professional season and he’s durable. Someone is going to offer him 5 years, 55 million – or more. Memphis, I’d throw that money at this man, before someone signs him to an offer sheet and makes that contract more expensive for you.

2). Get someone that can make a long range jumper

The Grizz have to get a guy that can reliably make a 3 point shot. A team that is cannot spread the floor usually won’t find success of any type, but I suppose that’s just a testament to how good Randolph was during this playoff run – no one could effectivel… Read more...