Memphis Grizzlies: Grit and Grind, evolved

— October 17th 2017

By Sharon Shy Brown

With the departure of Tony Allen and Zach Randolph, most predicted the end of the Grit and Grind era for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Grit and Grind is not just about the style of play; it is about hard work and basically a mindset. According to Mike Conley, “Grit and Grind is a mindset. It just doesn’t mean the way we play anymore. The mindset is to be tough, to be mentally stronger than your opponent, to not get rattled. On the court we are transitioning to a different style of play.” He concluded, “but that is it.”

Randolph and Allen may not be with the team, but that “grind mentality” will live on. The Grind isn’t predicated to the inside out game with Marc Gasol and Randolph in the post. The Grind is not just Allen changing the dynamic of a game with disruption on defense that causes offense. The Grind is in the hearts and minds of the players. Yes, Allen and Randolph will be missed and their presence can’t be replaced by the new players. But without them, the Grind won’t stop.

The Grizzlies have added more players who can shoot the three ball efficiently. Ben McLemore, Tyreke Evans and Dillon Brooks can all hit the three ball. Last season, Mike Conley shot nearly 41 percent from the stripe, and Marc Gasol shot better than 38 percent.

Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale wants the team to shoot more threes. “I’d like to see JaMychal (Green) take more threes than he did last year and obviously our young perimeter,” he said. “Marc (Gasol) and Mike (Conley) are still carrying that same load and still being aggressive, hunting for those threes. Hopefully we can stay with the pace of last year if not go up a couple.”

Mario Chalmers is back with the team after suffering a devastating Achilles injury that kept him out all of last season. This was a brutal injury, so he has much to prove after it probably could have cost him his career. Chalmers always had that Grit and Grind mentality. The Grizzlies will need his veteran leadership in the locker room.

The Grizzlies added former Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans. Evans also has something to prove. Often sidelined with injuries during his career, Evans can still be a viable scorer for the Grizzlies and put up 20 or more points on any given night. He can lead the second unit, along with Chalmers and Brandan Wright.

Chandler Parsons still is the “grizzly bear” in the locker room for the Grizzlies. Parsons will come off the bench as part of the second unit at the start of the season. He is still recovering from three knee surgeries in three years. The Grizzlies made an investment that may turn out to be costly, but Parsons believes he can contribute to the team. He must produce so the Grizzlies can have a return on their investment. The team needs more than what he gave them last year. Six points a game won’t cut it for a player who is making over $23 million this season. Parsons’ performance off the bench is a key factor to the Grizzlies having a successful season. Will he deliver?

Yes, other teams in the West became better with key additions. What does that mean to the Grizzlies? They need to play one game at a time and keep the mindset that they can compete with any team they’re on the floor against. Does that mean they can beat the Golden State Warriors, new-look Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets or Minnesota Timberwolves? Not necessarily, but they will likely still have a chance to make the playoffs.

Mike Conley and Marc Gasol need to have a better season than the year prior. Chandler Parsons must return to his Bob Lee Swagger form from the three-point line. Mario Chalmers, Brandan Wright, Tyreke Evans and Dillon Brooks must continue to play well together into the season.

It will be difficult, but that’s part of the Grind. The Grizzlies still should be a team that others shouldn’t underestimate. The other teams in the West with new players must click and have the cohesion to succeed just like the Grizzlies.

The Grind isn’t dead; it just is a bit different. Mike Conley will still drive down the lane through traffic with an off-balance shot while drawing a foul… that’s called grit.

Marc Gasol will still block a player from behind on defense and then run the floor and make a game-tying three-pointer… and that’s called grind.

The remainder of the team is made of guys who have something to prove and who will go out every night to fight. The culture of the team hasn’t changed; they just opened the book to another chapter.


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