Technically, this is the Grizzlies 25th anniversary season. That is if you are counting their unforgettably forgettable six years in Vancouver. The team we have known for nearly two decades as the Memphis Grizzlies has been one of the least successful teams in NBA history. To date, the Grizzlies franchise has made only ten playoff appearances and advanced as far as the Western Conference Finals only once. This summer, the “Grit and Grind” era, a roster which led the Grizzlies to their most successful period, would officially come to a close. Memphis would finally part with their two cornerstone players and begin the rebuilding stage. With Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, and Brandon Clarke as building blocks, the Grizzlies have three solid pieces in place. However, these young cubs will have a ways to go before they make the Memphis Grizzlies All-Time Team.
All-Time Memphis Grizzlies Team
Point Guard – Mike Conley
The Grizzlies franchise leader in games played, Mike Conley remains one of the more underrated point guards in the league. Over the course of his twelve years with the team, Conley was not once named to the Western Conference All-Star team. With career averages of just shy of 15 points per game, 5.7 assists and three rebounds, the only award that Conley would earn was a spot on the 2012-13 All-Defensive second team. Essentially traded to the Utah Jazz this summer for a bag of spare parts, Conley will have the opportunity to once again play in the post-season. Many feel Conley could be the missing piece the Jazz need to advance deep into the playoffs.
Back-Up – Jason Williams
Sandwiched between being “White Chocolate” in Sacramento and earning an NBA ring in Miami, Jason Williams was the starting point guard for the Grizzlies from 2001-2005. With the Kings, Williams made the highlight tapes. As a member of the Heat, he would find championship success. However, his tenure with the Grizzlies made Williams a more well rounded and fundamental player. One might argue that former Vancouver Grizzlies draft pick, Mike Bibby, should fill the role coming off the bench, but due to his tenure and playoff appearance, Williams gets the nod for the Memphis Grizzlies All-Time team.
Shooting Guard – Tony Allen
After finding team success with the Boston Celtics, including a championship ring, Tony Allen would sign with the Memphis Grizzlies. He would quickly become the heart and soul of the Grit and Grind era. While he was never a big contributor offensively, Allen’s calling card was his contributions on the defensive end. It is rare that a player who averaged less than nine points, a shade over four rebounds and less than two assists and steals a game would be a starter on an All-Time team. However, Allen’s contributions were more profound off of the stat sheet than they were on it. Currently the 37-year-old is now without a team to call home (Big3 recruit?).
Back-Up – Mike Miller
It is tough to decide between Mike Miller or O.J. Mayo. One had a longer tenure, better shooting percentages, filled the stat sheet, and kept out of trouble. The other had higher expectations. With the size and talent to play multiple positions, Miller was Memphis’ best long-range gunner, hitting 42% from downtown. Showing his willingness to help the team, Miller would earn the NBA Sixth Man Of The Year award as the team moved him to the bench with the arrival of Mayo. After starting his career in Orlando, Miller’s five and a half seasons in a Grizzlies uniform would be the most extended stop of his career. Following a stop in Minnesota and a championship run in Miami, Miller would return for one more run with the Grizzlies before claiming a second championship with Cleveland and finishing his career in Denver.
Small Forward – Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Shareef Abdur-Rahim was the first superstar player of the Grizzlies organization. Unfortunately for fans in Vancouver, his only trip to the All-Star game came immediately following their move to Memphis and trade to Atlanta. Aside from his rookie season when he averaged 18.7 points a night, the Grizzlies could rely on Abdur-Rahim for at least twenty points and eight rebounds. Had he developed a three-point shot, the current president of the NBA G League may have made more than one trip to the mid-season classic.
Back-Up – Rudy Gay
The Houston Rockets and Grizzlies continued their swapping of rookies when the Rockets traded Rudy Gay, the 8th pick in the 2006 draft to the Grizzlies for Shane Battier. As with the Steve Francis trade years prior, this deal worked out for both teams. A prolific scorer, Gay spent seven years with the Grizzlies. During his tenure, Gay averaged just under eighteen points and six rebounds a game. One of the more athletic scorers during his prime, Gay would only play in one playoff series for the Grizzlies during his time with the team.
Power Forward – Pau Gasol
As the Grizzlies first All-Star is enough to merit to have Pau Gasol on the Memphis Grizzlies All-Time team. However, also consider that the third overall pick from the 2001 draft (acquired via the Abdur-Rahim trade), was a near double-double threat on any given night. For seven years, Gasol would lead the Grizzlies with eighteen points and eight rebounds a night. The young forward from Spain would be the main reason why the team would finally reach the playoffs. Memphis would make the postseason in three of his seven years. Gasol would end up being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in what was deemed at the time one of the most lopsided deals in NBA history. Little did they know what the Grizzlies would be getting in return.
Back-Up – Zach Randolph
One could easily argue that Zach Randolph should be the starting power forward on the Memphis Grizzlies All-Time team. However, bringing Randolph in with the second unit would be a scary sight for the opposition. After eight years in Memphis, Randolph left the team as the third all-time leading scorer and second-leading rebounder. A two-time All-Star while with the Grizzlies, Randolph was a focal point in the franchise’s first playoff series victory.
Center – Marc Gasol
Second all-time in games, points and assists and first in rebounds, placing Marc Gasol as the starting big man on the Memphis Grizzlies All-Time team is a given. Many thought that the younger Gasol was a throw-in when Memphis made that historic trade with the Lakers. However, the two time All-NBA and three-time All-Star proved otherwise. While he would never average twenty points a game, Gasol brought a lot of tangibles to the table. In addition to his post game, Gasol added seven rebounds, three assists and anchored the defense in the paint. Unfortunately, Gasol was unable to bring a championship to Memphis, but after a dozen years in the league, he was rewarded with a title after joining the Toronto Raptors last season.
Back-Up – Bryant Reeves
Don’t laugh at seeing Bryant Reeves on the Memphis Grizzlies All-Time team. Chances are he has heard enough of the jokes to last a lifetime. Sure one could cheat and put Pau Gasol or Randolph here, but they are holding down the four spot. All jokes and snickering aside, Reeves, the first-ever draft pick for the Vancouver Grizzlies was a decent big man during his time. Had he taken better care of himself and maybe loved the game more, Reeves could have had a longer career. Back when big men banged in the trenches, the seven-footer from Gans, Oklahoma averaged sixteen points and eight rebounds during his second and third season with the team.