We’ve reached the initial team that will win a ring this season without fully shocking the populace: the Memphis Grizzlies.
Rest assured a championship for the Grizzlies, who barely made it into the postseason last season with a list of 50-32 (the 17th reminder that the West is loaded), could be a surprise. Zach Randolph is 33, and Mike Miller, a crucial floor-spacing shooter in last year’s underwhelming crime, followed LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Scoring, as always, will be a problem for the Grizz.
However, this team will defend like mad, particularly 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’ve got the crucial components for a league-best defense.
Vince Carter remains a precious wing guardian who can run a pick-and-roll and hit the occasional three, and Mike Conley is a playoff-tested fighter who just keeps getting better.
And keep in mind, we’ve seen 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 healthy and Gasol puts up a big year, they’re a dark-horse contender.