Although the Memphis Grizzlies are tied with the Miami Heat for the best record in the NBA at 12-3, you wouldn’t know it by the coverage the Grizzlies are getting nationally. If you asked most casual basketball fans who the best teams in the league are, you will probably hear the Heat, Thunder, Spurs, Celtics, Knicks, and maybe the Lakers from those not paying attention. Very few would mention the Grizzlies.
Granted, many expected the Grizzlies to be good this year as they have made the playoffs two years in a row in the rugged Western Conference. However, few expected the Grizzlies to to be this good this season. Memphis was the #4 seed in the playoffs last year, but were eliminated in a tough 7 game series against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. This year, the Grizzlies could have a good shot at one of the top 3 seeds in the West, albeit very early in the NBA season.
Even the basketball oddsmakers at Bovada.com have the Grizzlies at 20-1 to win the NBA title. The Grizzlies are the 8th choice to win the 2013 Championship, behind the Heat (9/5), Thunder (4/1), Lakers (9/2), Spurs (10/1), Clippers 12/1, Bulls (18/1), and Knicks (18/1). Now, you have to understand that the oddsmakers don’t really think the struggling Lakers are the third best team in the league right now. They have to keep the Lakers’ odds low because there are so many Laker fans out there who will bet on them to win the title. No one expects the Lakers to finish as a .500 team as they are are right now. The Lakers will right the ship and most likely make a deep run into the playoffs. They should probably be closer to 15/1 or 20/1 right now, but the bookmakers would get crushed with Laker money if they did that.
In the Western Conference, Memphis is the fifth choice behind the Lakers and Thunder (both 9/4), the Spurs (11/2), and the Clippers (13/2). The Grizzlies are 9/1 to win the Western Conference according to Bovada. That seems like pretty good value on a Grizzlies’ team that would have home court advantage all the way through the Western conference playoffs if the playoffs started today.
Now, I know the nationally televised games are decided months in advance. However, the Grizzlies are only on ESPN twice in December. They have yet to appear on TNT or NBA TV, and will not be on TNT until January 31 and on NBA TV until March 16th.
I give you that Memphis isn’t a big market team and casual fans want to see teams like the Heat, Lakers, Celtics, and Knicks, who all have national followings. However, neither are Oklahoma City and San Antonio, and both of those teams are on national television way more than Memphis is. Yes, if you have superstars like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli people will want to see you play even in a small market. The Grizzlies are a tough gritty team with really no superstars. Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Jr. and Marc Gasol are very good players, but aren’t as well known as those five players I mentioned for the Thunder and Spurs. The entire starting line-up for the Grizzlies is on the All-Star ballot something very few teams can say.
Although, it would be nice for the Grizzlies to be recognized for their great play early this season, it might be a blessing in disguise. As long as the Grizzlies are under the radar, there is less pressure on them. Teams like Miami, both LA teams, Boston, San Antonio, New York, and Oklahoma City are under such a microscope that every loss is analyzed and over analyzed to the point of exhaustion. Let the media cover those teams and the Grizzlies will get better and better.