For the fifth straight year, Conley played better than the season before. At this point he’s become one of the better point guards in the game, and the mainstream press is slowly starting to realize that. When Charles Barkley called him the most underrated point guard in the NBA, it felt like sweet vindication. In the second half of the season, after Rudy was sent to the Raptors, Conley began taking a more active role in the Grizzlies offense, and so far, it;s been suiting him. At this point, it’s become clear that the grizzlies offense would be a shell of itself without Conley.
Another season of amazing defense for the league’s scariest perimeter defender. At this point we know what Tony Allen is going to do for is; he is going to shut down the best offensive guard (or possibly small forward) on the opposing team, and put in a few buckets of his own on the other end. He’s not the most skilled offensive player in the world, but his athleticism can lead to a few impressive dunks, and once in awhile, he’ll get really hot from the field. Allen goes into free agency, and I can only assume the grizzlies will do whatever it takes to retain his services in the future.
Prince came to Memphis halfway through this season, and quickly carved a niche for himself on the team. While he doesn’t take a great deal of shots, he’s been quietly effective. his passing has been superb; he makes plenty of great passes that count as assists but help to set up great plays nonetheless. It would be nice to see Prince assert himself a bit more offensively, but at any rate, he has been a quality pick-up for the Grizzlies. He’s not going to replace all the points that Rudy Gay was able to put on the board, but that’s not why the Grizzlies picked him up anyway. He’s a smart veteran player who usually makes the right play, even if it isn’t the big play.
No one was totally sure what we were going to get out of Z-Bo this season. When he returned from a knee injury late last season, he clearly was not fully recovered. he was producing well below his usual rate, and we had to wonder if he would ever be the same. This year, his play was a large step-up from what he gave the Grizzlies in the spring of 2012, but still down from his usual averages. Some of that may have resulted from he Grizzlies conservative offense, but at the same time, it might just bee the Z-Bo just isn’t going to put up 20 points a game anymore, not at this point in his career. Thankfully, he’s still an excellent rebounder, and easily one of the 10 best power forwards in the NBA.
With Dwight Howard struggling with back problems, Gasol grabbed the conch and became the best starting 5 in the league this season. He was an absolute force in the post, flummoxing some of the most talented big men in the game, and he was rewarded for his efforts with well-deserved Defensive Player Of The Year distinction. Gasol wasn’t just effective on the defensive end, however. He continued to shoot the ball well form mid-range, and his ability to drain free throws (84.8% for the season) made him all-but-unstoppable when it came to scoring in the post. Gasol was the Grizzlies best player this year, and he’s assumed the role of the team’s unquestioned leader.