As we play out the final weeks of the 2011-'12 NBA season, we take a look at each franchise. Who emerged, what went wrong, what lies ahead. A look at post season chances, long term potential and upgrades possible in this summer's NBA draft. We continue in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference with the Memphis Grizzlies.
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The Grizzlies were the surprise of the post season a year ago. This time around, they have the services of small forward Rudy Gay. Memphis currently clings to the fifth seed with a projected first round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers. Power forward Zach Randolph has been working his way back into shape after returning from injury and will be a key factor in the post season. News this week that Memphis nearly landed Boston shooting guard Ray Allen at the deadline. Gilbert Arenas ended up the fallback plan, will it be enough?
The Grizzlies gave Sam Young away to remain under the cap and avoid the luxury tax. With a trio of restricted free agents, Memphis will use them to manuever under the cap moving forward.
Memphis sent their second round pick to Philadelphia in the Marreese Speights trade. In the first round, the Grizzlies will be looking for backcourt help, unless both O.J. Mayo and Gilbert Arenas are brought back. Combo guards Dion Walters (Syracuse) or Tony Wroten (Washington) could be on their radar. Memphis could also look for local help with a trio of Vanderbilt stars expected to go late in round one.
Rudy Gay and Zach Randloph are each due $50 million over the next three seasons. Both have missed considerable time due to injury over the past two seasons and could be an amnesty target if they become chronic in nature.
The Good: Can Memphis take the next step in the playoffs with Rudy Gay healthy? O.J. Mayo has shown signs of life and provides spark off the bench along with Gilbert Arenas. Zach Randolph should be back in shape by the end of the month and creates problems for opponents along with center Marc Gasol.
The Bad: Inconsistent backcourt play could prove to be Memphis' achilles heel in the playoffs. Can Mayo and Arenas carry the second team from the backcourt? Randolph missed much of the regular season and could still show signs of rust in the second season. Darrell Arthur's season ending injury and the cap trade of Sam Young weakens the front court depth.
Memphis has a dozen players under contract for the 2012-'13 season. Three are restricted free agents holding qualifying offers; O.J. Mayo, Marreese Speights and Darrell Arthur. The Grizzlies have been searching for a veteran combo guard off the bench and may bring Gilbert Arenas back.
Who are The Experts Taking and When? Check Out The Latest ADP from The NFBC!
Marc Gasol, Marreese Speights
Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay Darrell Arthur, Dante Cunningham, Quincy Pondexter
Mike Conley, O.J.Mayo, Jeremy Pargo, Josh Shelby, Tony Allen
Gilbert Arenas, Hamed Haddadi
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Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.
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