Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies
5:00 p.m. PST
February 21, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
1. What new dynamic does Courtney Lee add to the Grizzlies offense?
Seerat Sohi, (@DamianTrillard): After the Spurs stifled the Grizzlies last year by completely ignoring Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince on the perimeter, teams followed cue. Courtney Lee is considered one of the league’s foremost spot up shooters. Despite his 34.4 percent mark this season, like Redick, opponents are wary of leaving him open. The Grizzlies still suffer from poor spacing but Lee provides a minor fix.
Aaron Fischman, (@aaronhartf): Although Lee’s shot has fallen off a little in the month of February, he’s a much more reliable outside shooter than Jerryd Bayless, the man he replaced. That quality allows Lee to stretch the floor, a crucial ingredient for a team like Memphis that strives to create more space for its interior scorers to operate. From 16 to 24 feet, the fifth-year forward has made 32-of-55 shots (58.2 percent), whereas Bayless converted just 32.9 percent from the same distance.
Jacob Frankel, (@jacob_frankel): Shooting? It’s not unique, but it’s a very shiny new thing when it comes to the Grizzlies. Anybody who can hit threes at an above average rate is a massive plus for them at this point.
2. Is Marc Gasol the best center in the NBA?
Sohi: The Grizzlies have been strikingly better with Gasol back in action but he’s spent a considerable portion of the season on the mend — that hurts his contention. Right now, it’s a toss up between Roy Hibbert and Dwight Howard.
Fischman: Not quite. In the hierarchy of centers, Gasol is darn close to being No. 1. He’s probably the best defensive center outside of Roy Hibbert and maybe Joakim Noah or Dwight Howard, but far better than all three offensively. My pick for current best? DeMarcus Cousins. He’s averaging 22.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists, while getting to the line 9.0 times per game, where he shoots a respectable 72 percent. Even with Randolph gobbling up boards, Gasol’s 6.4 rebounding average badly hurts his cause. His career-low 45.5 shooting percentage doesn’t look good, either.
Frankel: He may have been last season, but I’m not sure this year. His defense isn’t quite up to the high bar he set last year, though that can partially be blamed on the injury. Right now, I just don’t see any big things that separate him from Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert, and Chris Bosh.
3. Does “the new Blake Griffin” have a style that allows him to find more success against the Grizzlies front line?
Sohi: Can I answer this after the game? Griffin’s refinements in way of offense and playmaking should provide a considerable boon but Randolph’s true advantage has been a proclivity for frustrating Griffin. Griffin is bordering unstoppable most nights but his old buddy Z-bo should work as an effective litmus test, indicative of just how much the new Blake Griffin differentiates from the old.
Fischman: I think so. Simply put, Griffin’s offensive repertoire continues to expand. As he’s developed additional ways to score, it’s become harder and harder for defenders to stop him. That said, at times when Griffin gets into trouble while posting up, he likes to bring the ball low and muscle through his defender. Given Randolph’s bulk and low center of gravity, Griffin won’t have that luxury against Memphis.
Frankel: I’m not quite sure how new his playing style is. I think he’ll definitely find more success in the future, but that’ll just be him getting smarter and better at basketball.
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