Despite an ugly playoff series loss last year to the Los Angeles Clippers (blowing a 21 point lead in game 1, and losing a home game 7), the Memphis Grizzlies are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA right now. With the stumbles by the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Grizzlies seem to be in a position to further strengthen their hold on the top seed in the west. A healthy Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol lead a huge, bruising frontcourt featuring deadly post offense, while also maintaining solid wing defense with the scrappy Tony Allen and dynamic Rudy Gay.

The departure of the J.R. Smith-like O.J. Mayo doesn’t seem to have fazed the Grizzlies in the slightest on their quest to return to the playoffs. Integrating former Portland Trailblazers guard Jerryd Bayless into head coach Lionel Hollins‘ schemes has been seamless and allows the normally slow-footed Grizzlies (20th in pace) to change up their playstyle on demand. In some ways I’m jealous – without struggling the way the Nuggets have in integrating JaVale McGee and Andre Iguodala into their team, the Grizzlies are poised to shake up the top seeds in the West, which is where I’d hoped to see the Nuggets by this point.

But lest ye despair, fear not – of the Grizzlies two losses this year, one was their opener against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Staples Center, and the other…was to our Denver Nuggets on the Grizzlies’ home floor.

Daily Links

Lakers’ Gasol playing through tendinitis – While the 7-8 Lakers continue to flounder (and remain outside of the playoff picture), an ailing Pau Gasol admits that his knees are bothering him. At 32 years old, despite remaining one of the top producers at the PF/C position in the game, it looks like Gasol is starting to wear down under the heavy strain of an 82-game season. Which can only be a good thing for Nuggets fans.

The Welfare Kings – Hardwood Paroxysm’s Curtis Harris has an interesting examination of the perpetually struggling Kings franchise and their potential move to Virginia Beach, VA – on the taxpayer’s dime. Just sell already, Maloofs, to an owner who cares.

Playing the Andrew Bynum what-if game – Grantland’s Zach Lowe takes us through why he thinks that Philly still made the right call in making a trade for Andrew Bynum – I’m inclined to agree with him. As big a piece of shit as Bynum is, he’s still a top-20 player in the NBA – when healthy – but his accumulated bad karma seems to be catching up with him. After being hurt while bowling, there’s still no timetable for Bynum’s return to the floor.