Grizzlies 2011-2012 Season Preview: Over/Under

With Grizzmas just around the corner, here is a look at some of the expectations for the shorten 2011-2012 season.

2.5 wins vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder: Under

After last year’s heartbreaking loss to OKC in the playoffs, the Grizzlies finally have a rival.  There is little change in personnel with these two teams, so it will be the same players from last seasons thrilling playoff series, which should add some fuel to the fire of this rivalry.  The Grizzlies went 3-1 against OKC during the regular season last year, and these two teams will face off early this year in the Grizzlies’ first home game of the year on December 28.  As long as number 35 suits up for the Thunder it is hard for me to believe they will loss three games to any one team during the regular season.

5 seed in the playoffs:  Under

Last season Memphis was a game away from the Western Conference Finals as an eight seed.  If they are going to go deep into the playoffs home court advantage in a series or two will not hurt.  With the Spurs and Lakers getting older, the Mavs losing core pieces left and right, the crazy situation the Hornets are in with Chris Paul, and still relatively young Thunder and Trail Blazer teams the Grizzlies could climb as high as a three seed this year.  With the return of Gay, the Grizzlies are a much more dangerous team and should be competing for the fourth spot in the Western half of the NBA.      

15 dunks and .5 alley oops for Zach Randolph: Under (way under)

There is no doubt that Z-Bo is the Grizzlies most dangerous low post offensive weapon.  While he measures in at 6’9”, Randolph does most of his damage beneath the rim with baby hooks, lay-ups, and 15-footers.  At the Grizzlies’ opening day press conference Randolph and teammate Rudy Gay joked about how many dunks Z-Bo had last season.    The bar was set at ten last year, and Z-Bo got 11 in 75 games played.  At the Grizzlies opening day press conference the terms of this year’s friendly wager was set at 20.  That is twice as many dunks in nine fewer games, not to mention more back to backs and one back to back to back.  No offense to Randolph, but I can not remember the last oop he caught, and I am going back to his days in college at Michigan State.  There is no way he gets 20 dunks this season, and I doubt he gets 15.

5.5 assists per game for Mike Conley: Over

While Conley is not an all star, he is a solid and emerging point guard, with quickness and decent court vision.  Last year he averaged 6.5 assists per game, but for his career he averages only 5.2 assists per game.  Conley appeared to have turned the corner with his play last year, especially during the playoffs.  If the Grizzlies are going to be successful they will need their starting point guard to facilitate the offense and hit the open man in a position to score.  Expect Conley to hover around the six assists per game mark this year and continue to build on last year’s performance.

21 points per game for Rudy Gay: Under

The return of Gay is a welcome one, as it brings back the Grizzlies’ most versatile offensive weapon.  However, with the continued growth and improvement of his teammates in his absence, Gay might night get the same number of touches.  He has only averaged more than 20 points per game in one season during his career and was only averaging 19.8 points before his season ending injury.  Gay will not get 21 points per game this year, but he is still the most dangerous offensive weapon that Memphis has.

50 points per game in the paint: Over

Last season, Memphis averaged 51.5 points in the paint to lead all NBA teams.  With crafty big men like Marc Gasol and Z-Bo constantly bombarding the rim at every chance they get, expect much of the same.  Add to it the return of Gay, a slasher in Sam Young, and an increasingly improving Conley and you have a starting five that will look to work inside out for the entire season (click here for a more comprehensive look at the Grizzlies’ roster).   Also, with players who do most of their damage around the rim coming off of the bench, like Tony Allen and Darrell Arthur, teams are going to struggle to keep the Grizzlies out of the paint.  Memphis dominated the paint last year, and will need to dominate it again this year if they want to be successful.

What other Over/Under scenarios can you think of? How many sellouts? How many trades? Comment below with your thoughts….

Click here to read about the Grizzlies 2011-12 roster

Click here to learn how NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement will impact the Grizzlies

Click here to read what Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley have to say about the 2011-2012 NBA season

CJ Hurt covers the NBA for MemphiSport.  Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from Grizzlies games.  

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