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Zach Randolph

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...

NBA Playoffs: Western Conference First Round Predictions

On Friday, we took a look at our Eastern Conference predictions. Even though one game is in the books, better late than never. Let’s get right to the other side of the bracket, the Western Conference:
1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 8) Houston Rockets
Why OKC takes it in 5 games
KOBEsh: It’s a 1-seed versus an 8-seed. That’s reason enough right there. 
But going further? You’ve got the league’s best and most efficient offense playing a squad with a middling 16th ranked defense, though they’ve certainly improved over the second half of the season. You’ve got two of the NBA’s deadliest scorers in Westbrook and Durant, and no one on the opposition that is at all suited to slow them down. You’ve got an experienced OKC front line that knows how to work advantages against a bunch of first-time playoff virgins, including Serge Ibaka whose mobility and shooting touch should tear up whatever platoon coach Kevin McHale chooses.
This shouldn’t be a contest. No further explanation necessary. … 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...

Tune in, for your sake

The two best shows on TV right now are Parks and Recreation and Tough Enough. The only people who disagree with me are people who haven’t watched them. I could describe exactly what makes me tune in to those two shows, but my opinion has no value. I’m just a simpleton who is lame enough to blog in my spare time.
The 2011 NBA Playoffs have been downright riveting. But you’ll listen to me even less than had I spouted off on the entertainment brilliance of Parks and TE, for two reasons: 1) you already watch the NBA, and/or 2) the NBA just doesn’t have the mainstream appeal of someone like Amy Poehler.
That being said, here are the top 5 moments of these playoffs.
5. The Atlanta Deadbeats winning 6 playoff games.
This doesn’t actually count as an awesome event. It’s just another way for me to point out that I’m better than Blake at this.

4. Zach Randolph’s “blue collar player, blue collar town” speech.
As a sports fan, I want professional athletes to play with the same amount of passion that they did when they were kids. For years, Z-Bo has played a role in killing NBA franchises because he didn’t care about anyone else but himself. This year, Z-Bo played the biggest role in killing an NBA franchise…the Spurs. The best power forward in league history had no answer for an incredible array of low-post moves and circus shots that only became more ridiculous as each one swished through San Antonio’s hearts and dreams. But the best part was after Game 6, when Z-Bo understood that he wasn’t playing for himself. He had been trying to spell “team” with an “i” for his whole career. He finally got it.
3. Pau Gasol’s feeble crawl into a corner, leading to his eventual trade to the Golden State Warriors.
Let’s say you have a close-knit group of friends. Now suppose that some event occurred involving said group of friends, and there was one person to blame for it. Things could go one of two ways here. The wrongdoer can accept the blame, apologize, and move forward, creating an even more close-knit group of friends. Or, the wrongdoer can shut himself out, refuse to take advice, give his friends the silent treatment, and all that nonsense. The average person is in Group 2 because it’s extremely difficult to put pride aside for the good of the group. Nobody blames the Group 2 dude because that’s just how most people operate, but the rare person is in Group 1.
Pau Gasol is one of the most talented bigs in the game today. He’s like the guy in the group of friends that consistently makes everyone laugh and always contributes to a good time. But that guy usually isn’t the person you turn to when times are tough, because he’s likely to be more style than substance. Pau’s performance in the 2011 Playoffs showed that he was an average human being, regardless of how talented he really is.
2b. Chris Paul coming back to life.
This has been written about far too much, but it’s still a huge moment so it has to get listed.

2a. J.J. Barea doing the exact same thing in the very next round.
What this little dude did to the Lakers made Paul’s performance far less impressive. Maybe the Lakers played really really bad defense, or maybe J.J. Barea deserves a max contract. You decide.
1. Brandon Roy’s 23-point fourth quarter against Dallas.
I really wish Portland beat Dallas. Moreso because I called it, but also because there would be more stories about Brandon Roy. Simmons glossed over this, but I’ll push it a littRead more...