Better Shooting Helps Grizz Make Leap

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Though their record is a little inflated, the Memphis Grizzlies are a team to be reckoned with. Not only do they have wins over the Heat, Thunder, Knicks and Lakers, but they’re the only team in the league that ranks in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

The Grizz were a terrific defensive team each of the last two seasons, but they were also below average offensively. And championship contenders aren’t mediocre on one side of the ball or the other.

This season, Memphis is the fourth-most improved offensive team in the league, scoring 4.1 points per 100 possessions more than it did last season. That’s a significant jump for the team, but also very consequential in terms of the NBA landscape, because, if the Grizzlies can continue to be a great team on both ends of the floor, they’re going to be a title contender come May and June.

Most improved offenses (points per 100 possessions)

Team 2011-12 Rank 2012-13 Rank Diff.
New York 101.4 19 110.4 1 +9.0
Miami 104.3 6 110.1 2 +5.8
Brooklyn 99.7 23 103.9 7 +4.2
Memphis 101.0 21 105.0 5 +4.1
Boston 98.9 24 102.8 11 +4.0

As Ronald Tillery notes in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, better ball movement has been a part of the Grizzlies’ improved offense:

Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace loves to talk about the virtues of continuity.

“Continuity alone can win you five more games in a season,” Wallace will say.

The Griz cap a five-game home stand Friday night against the Detroit Pistons with an NBA-best 11-2 record. Another byproduct of continuity is their improvement in team assists.

Memphis is averaging 21.6 assists per game — the most since the 2003-04 season when Hubie Brown won the league’s coach of the year honor. Brown’s 50-win squad recorded 23.4 assists per game and ranked fifth in the league.

Hollins & Co. are ranked 14th in the NBA this season. The improvement is noteworthy compared to the rest of Hollins’ tenure when the Griz perennially ranked in the bottom third in assists.

“There’s better ball movement and better awareness,” Hollins said. “We’re sharing the ball with each other whereas when I first got here we were more of an isolation team. We still do isolation some but we’ve got more guys getting assists. That helps when it’s just more than the point guard, more than Mike (Conley) and Marc (Gasol).”

Now, citing raw assist numbers is a bit misleading. More assists come with more buckets, whether you’re a better passing team or not. But the Grizzlies have increased their assist rate, recording assists on 59 percent of their field goals this season. That’s a big jump from 53 percent last year and an even bigger jump from 48 percent (dead last in the league) in Lionel Hollins‘ first full season as coach.

But there’s also no real correlation between assist rate and offensive efficiency. There have been some great offensive teams over the years with a low assist rate (see last year’s Thunder). And there have been some bad teams with a high assist rate. In fact, the Washington Wizards have increased their assist rate from last season more than the Grizzlies have, and that’s clearly not helping them.

What’s helping the Grizzlies is better shooting, from both the 3-point line and the foul line. They’re shooting 37.9 percent from beyond the arc (eighth in the league), up from 32.6 percent (25th) last season. And they rank second in the league at 80.6 percent from the stripe, an increase in almost five percent from last year. Combine those to jumps with a few fewer turnovers, a few more offensive boards and a few more trips to the line, and you have a much-improved offense.

Now, better ball movement might be a key to the improvement from 3-point range, but the percent of the Grizzlies threes that have been assisted (84.4 percent) is about the same as it was last year (85.2 percent).


  1. marcus says:

    Vamos Ositos!!!
    Este año SI!!!

  2. errel guy says:

    Are you kidding me kobe is defiintely not near to Jordan…..Wew…..what a joke……Jordan does moves that the World have Feared

  3. We reached London this afternoon.After you.Bottoms up!He suddenly appeared in the party.Would you like a cup of tea? Columbus discovered America in l492.Close the door after you,please.Take care!Control yourself!Ice cream is popular among children.

  4. All I’m saying is if the Grizzlies are overated, why would Popovich send his 4 starters home to rest up for the game and the Grizzlies had a game the night before with the Pistons. They won that and then had to fly out to San Antonio to play the “Rested” Spurs.The Grizzlies still took them to overtime. The NBA Commissioner didn’t think too much of that either. They have started off well. I hope they end well. Their goal is to win it all and who’s to say they can’t do it if they have a healthy “Rested” team.

    • Trevor Dylan says:

      @ Mississippi fan I am with you on that. The Memphis Grizzlies are good enough to win it all; or at least go to the Western Conference finals. I love how people keep pushing up the Lakers (sorry team) like they are as deep and good as the Memphis Grizzlies….. hahahaha lol 😉 I gotta laugh just thinking about it.

  5. Trevor Dylan says:

    What is with all this “star” player talk? There are only stars and so-called superstars in the NBA because the Media gets behind and favors certain players. That is a bunch of nonsense! I think more of the fans should speak up about the biased treatment. I always send emails, tweets and letter to the NBA as a fan and tell them how I feel. People can sleep on the Grizzlies all they want. They beat OKC, Miami, Clippers, etc. They can beat all the so-called “ELITE” teams. So what do you have to say about that? I now Spurs & the rest of the west don’t want to face them in the playoffs. I have been watching this Memphis Grizzlies team very closely. I watched them play and beat Miami Heat in their most recent meeting. Their bench is clutch 3 point shooters/deep bench (overall team). They have clutch shooting in Gay, Conley, etc. They have 2 big men who can pull up the ball to the basket and drop it in….. (Gasol & Randolph). I mean I am impressed everytime I watch them play. I know they made a few mistakes and just lost that game by few points to The Spurs. But the Spurs had to play very hard (overtime) to beat the. That should tell you how good and deep this Memphis Grizzlies team is….. Let’s go Grizzlies.!!!!!

  6. Countess says:

    I remember watching the first game of the season when the Grizz took on the Clippers (we all know what happen in the playoffs, so I won’t repeat it here), and some dumb commentator commented about the Grizz, “ARE THESE GUY’S CONTENDER’S OR PRETENDER’S”? Wow! I thought, how gruel, especially since this is the first game of the season. But, I concluded that his comment was just some little something he might have heard some “Grizzlies hater” say and thought it would sound cool repeating it on the air. Well, the Grizz are 12-2 to date. Where are your Clippers? How stupid! Oh, by the way, ARE THE CLIPPERS CONTENDER’S OR PRETENDER’S? (I HAD TO SAY THAT ;)).

    The Grizzlies are a good team! Charles Barkley was the first to give kudo’s to this team a couple of years ago. The Grizz played very few national games and flew under the radar. When he, did, people laughed, and laughed, that is up until they ousted the Spurs in the playoffs, and then took OKC to a game 7. You know the old saying “he who laughs first, laughs last”. Keep on disrespecting the Grizz. I doubt they care at this point. Coach Hollins has already prepared them for the the snubs, just like he has prepared them for the national media frenziy; trust me.

    The Grizz have battled through some injuries, but now they have their core back in tack and they are learning to play together as a team (i.e., Z-Bo and Gay), Additionally, they have improved the Bench (AKA, ZOO CREW!). The team have welcomed back Darrell Arthur who is working to get to full speed and looking good to date. They are getting better and are on point to be even better in the second half of the season providing they stay healthy. If so, they will be in the playoffs and have a legitimate chance to be the 2013 NBA champions.

    Go Grizzlies! Go Grizzlies Fans! Make some NOISE! NOW IS THE TIME!

  7. Clifton says:

    No one is talking about the Grizz to bring attention to them.
    Must be because they don’t have a “star” player lol…

  8. Grizzlies playing a back to back game tonight + Pop sends home 4 of his top players = a Spurs possible win tonight against my team and a chance to take over 1st place in the west. Are the Spurs concern about meeting the grizzlies on even terms?

  9. new_skool91 says:

    Why don’t we do an article on the two hundred and fifty thousand ways to prepare for the “slightly overrated” Grizzlies according to Greg Popovitch?

  10. M-Town Legend says:

    confrence finals is our desination

  11. not memphis fan says:

    Grizz are contenders this way and they’ll fight hard like they always are. Their physical game, their incredible duo Gasol&Zbo is making he difference and now they feel better than ever. They might not get no1 seed but i am betting they’ll be at least in conference final.

  12. Heat BIG 3 says:

    Do NOT sleep on this team. Any team in the NBA that plays the Grizz and are not on point from jump…… will catch an L real quick. I can see them knocking off the Lakers in the playoffs just like they did Spurs a few yrs back. I repeat sleep on the Grizz catch an L real quick.

  13. Counte says:

    Seems like this is a little “apology” for calling the Grizz record “inflated” yesterday. Mainstream media is going to learn that this team is the real deal! The core players have been together at least 3 years, defense has always been legit and now they have some shooters.

  14. ArunThomasVarughese says:

    Inflated? I disagree my friend. I also disagree with the “better than their record” ranking- I’ll get to that later.
    The Grizzlies have two of the best big men in the game, and then they have Rudy Gay. He may not be a “closer”, but he sure does draw a double team very often. Grizzlies have a solid chance to win if they can get out of the Western Conference finals. Those guys are HUNGRY!
    THE TORANTO RAPTORS ARE BETTER THAN THEIR RECORD???? Their record reflects perfectly the ability of that team. I would have given that “better than their record” title to the Houston Rockets- no question.

  15. Prescott Hill says:

    I think the Memphis Grizzlies are underrated and overlooked by the NBA and that is not fair. As a fan (who helps pay their salaries) and contributes to the NBA; I get sick of all these NBA anchors praising certai players & teams. I don’t want to keep seeing and hearing about Lebron James & the Heat, Kevin Durant. OKC. Heck, I don’t even think the NBA shows Kobe enough respect/love. I think he is the closest to Michael Jordan with his veteran status, accomplishments, title/championships. I watched Lebron play against the Spurs last night. I didn’t see any special moves he did that I don’t see any other NBA player do. So what is all the hype about, seriously?!

    • mv3 says:

      haha so true

    • Idoubtit says:

      Watch closer. Lebron has the best post-contact shot in the league, particularly near the rim. It usually happens right before an and-1.

    • htiekrm032468 says:

      flying below the radar is a perfect thing. let them talk about:
      * – $250K worth of fines;
      * – lakers drama
      * – knicks vs nets: who’s best in new york?
      * – clippers vs lakers: who’s best in L.A.?
      * – the heat big 3
      * – youngest scoring champ from last season
      * – houston signing harden to a max deal
      * – a “return” to okc that got stumped by 28 points
      * – a fight between boston / brooklyn
      * – sending players home because “…we are tired”; or better yet: “…playing our 4th game in 5 nights”

      (besdies our beloved GRIZZLIES kicking @$$, name me 10 different stories than what i did?)
      we all “know” what the GRIZZLIES can do. im good with (to borrow the lyrics from a song): …killing me softly…