How The Memphis Grizzlies Built A Championship Contender Without An NBA Superstar

Marc Gasol

The Grizzlies are facing an uphill battle in the Western Conference finals but it’s amazing they have even made it this far without any bona fide NBA superstars.

While most teams in the NBA are trying to put together rosters with two or three superstars, the Grizzlies realised that every two points you keep the opponent from scoring is just as valuable as two points you score.

In other words, defence, if done right, can be just as valuable as scoring. And as Tom Ziller of pointed out, good defensive players are easier (and cheaper) to find than great scorers. It’s like the “Moneyball” of the NBA.

The result is that the Grizzlies allowed the fewest points in the NBA this season (89.3 ppg) and they did it with a $63.1 million payroll, just 25th in the NBA, and 37% less than the Lakers ($100.1 million).

So how did they do it? Amazingly, the Grizzlies were able to build a cheap and effective roster with only three players acquired on draft day, with most key pieces coming via trades.

Here is a look at how the Memphis roster was constructed…

  • Zach Randolph, PF (18.3 ppg) — Received in a trade from the Los Angeles Clippers for Quentin Richardson. The Clippers had just drafted Blake Griffin who needed a spot in the lineup.
  • Marc Gasol, C (18.0 ppg) — The Lakers traded Marc Gasol’s draft rights to the Grizzlies along with two other players (Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton) and two future first round draft picks, for his brother, Pau Gasol, and a second round pick. Both players taken with the first round picks were eventually traded for players currently on the roster.
  • Mike Conley, PG (17.3 ppg) — Drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft (no. 4 overall).
  • Tony Allen, SG (10.8 ppg) — Signed as a free agent in 2010.
  • Jerryd Bayless, PG (8.8 ppg) — Signed as a free agent in 2010.
  • Quincy Pondexter, SF (7.4 ppg) — Traded from the Hornets for Greivis Vasquez, who was originally drafted with one of the picks acquired in the Pau Gasol trade.
  • Tayshaun Prince, SF (7.3 ppg) — Part of 3-team, 6-player trade earlier this season. The Grizzlies sent Rudy Gay to the Raptors and received Prince, along with Ed Davis, Austin Daye, and a second round pick. The Grizzlies also gave up Hamed Haddadi in the deal.
  • Darrell Arthur, PF (3.7 ppg) — Received in a draft-day trade from the Trail Blazers. Arthur was traded for one of the first round picks acquired in the Pau Gasol trade.
  • Keyon Dooling, PG (2.0 ppg) — Signed during the season as a free agent.
  • Ed Davis, PF (1.9 ppg) — Received as part of the Rudy Gay trade.
  • Austin Daye, PF (1.8 ppg) — Received as part of the Rudy Gay trade.
  • Tony Wroten, PG (1.6 ppg) — Drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft (no. 25 overall).
  • Jon Leuer, PF (0.7 ppg) — Traded by the Cavaliers for three players and a future first round pick.

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