Memphis Looks to Battle With San Antonio in Southwest

The Memphis Grizzlies hope Marc Gasol stays healthy this season and are counting on added scoring depth to help them become contenders in the Western Conference.

The Grizzlies have had numerous problems over the past couple of seasons with injuries and hope that new depth on the squad will offset any injuries that do hit the team.

The Grizzlies have had little scoring off the bench and looked during the offseason to add depth and scoring.

The Grizzlies signed Vince Carter to give them an additional outside scorer who can be very productive.

With Dallas, Carter averaged 12 points per game in just 24 minutes per game.

Carter will also keep Tayshaun Prince on the bench more often. The 12-year veteran had his worst numbers of his career last season for Memphis.

Memphis has a number of shooters from downtown on their bench but none sees that much playing time.

Jon Leuer and Beno Udrih could help the team from outside.

Last season Leuer was 47% from three point territory and Udrih has hit 35.6% for his career.

With the re-signing of Udrih, and guaranteeing the contract of Nick Calathes, Memphis has committed to depth past Mike Conley.

Calathes played well when Conley was hurt averaging 14.7 points a game.

Udrih hit double figures on three occasions during the postseason. He will start as the club’s backup at point guard since Calathes will miss the first 13 games for violating the substance abuse policy in the NBA.

Ed Davis left, but Jarnell Stokes was drafted and should be an effective replacement for Davis. That will leave Leuer in his same place on the depth chart.

Down low, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are the key players for Memphis. Each will average between 35 and 40 minutes per game.

Randolph averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds last season.

Between him and Gasol, they are one of the toughest frontcourt duos in the NBA. Randolph is a double-double threat nightly and Gasol can hit from mid range shots in, has great passing abilities and leads the team on defense.

If Gasol is on the court with Randolph, then Randolph’s defense is not a problem.

If Gasol can remain healthy, the tough minded defense will return for the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies still could struggle with a number of teams in the Western Conference as was evidenced in the postseason when they could not keep up with the athleticism of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

By adding Carter to their offense, the Grizzlies have another outside shooter to complement point guard Mike Conley, who will likely score more this season.

Memphis at times has dug themselves a hole early in the season and feverishly battle back during the second half to reach the playoffs. This season if they can remain healthy earlier, they could be in the battle for a top 4 spot in the conference and home court advantage in the first round.

With teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors, the Western Conference will be a tough battle for even the best in the conference, let along those on the periphery.

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