As the season closes, it is unlikely that any Grizzlies’ player will come away with one of the five main end of the year player awards: Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, and Most Improved player. Despite this, all Grizzlies fans know dear in their heart that each of these awards can be given to one of our players on a team basis. So, without further ado, here are the 2017 Grizzlies Only End of the Year Awards:
Sixth Man of the Year: Zach Randolph
Season Averages: 14.1 pts, 8.2 reb, 1.7 ast, 0.5 stl, 0.1 blk
This one had to be first because compared to the rest of the team, he is 1st in rebounds (8.2), 3rd in points (14.1), tied for 3rd highest PER on team (18.5). While on the floor, Zach Randolph has a usage rate of 29.1%, the most in Memphis Grizzlies history for any player that has played over 10 games in a season. Coach Fizdale said at the beginning of the season that he needed Randolph to come off and facilitate the bench because that is where we were lacking. Zach’s touches per game are also 3rd most on the team at 46.3, combined with his usage rate it shows that the bench’s flow is primarily running through him. I have no doubt he will be one of the top candidates for the real Sixth Man of the Year award.
Rookie of the Year: Andrew Harrison
Season Averages: 5.9 pts, 1.9 reb, 2.8 ast, 0.8 stl, 0.3 blk
Whether you love him for his hustle or hate him for inconsistent shooting, Harrison is the only rookie who got consistent playing time this season. Even though Wade Baldwin has better stats on a per 36 minute basis, Harrison held down the point until Conley came back from his back injury earlier this season. The future could hold anything in store for the backup point guard position for Memphis, having multiple changes over the past few years, but for now, Andrew Harrison has easily secured this spot for the Grizzlies’ roster.
Most Improved Player: Marc Gasol
Season Averages: 19.5 pts, 6.2 reb, 4.6 ast, 0.9 stl, 1.4 blk
We are now getting into the not-so-obvious awards and honestly this might be one of the hardest awards to decide on for this list. Between Gasol and Conley, both have drastically stepped it up this season and have proven at multiple points during the season that they have the capability of carrying a team. The reason why Marc edges out Mike is primarily because of his three point shooting. This season, Gasol averaged 3.6 3PA per game. He only took 3 three point shots throughout ALL of last season. At 38.8% shooting, this new weapon gives the Grizzlies’ the ability to open up the floor in many ways. Many of the Grizzlies have improved statistically like Gasol, but very few have added such a crucial element to their game this season, so for that, he earns our Most Improved Grizz award.
Defensive Player of the Year: Tony Allen
Season Averages: 9.1 pts, 5.5 reb, 1.4 ast, 1.6 stl, 0.4 blk
“First Team All Defense!”
This guy could always be a top candidate for this spot. When it comes to defensive intangibles and stuff you won’t see on the stat sheet, this is the guy. Marc Gasol could have won this award as well (even though he has a real one) but it ended up leaning more towards Tony.
Per 100 possessions, Allen averages 3.1 steals and 0.8 blocks/Gasol averages 1.4 steals and 2.1 blocks. At this point, it is a matter of opinion. Allen’s opponents average 3% less on field goals One-on-One compared to Gasol. This is great considering Tony has to guard some of the best superstars every night, but Marc has a completely different type of position of stars to guard. Personally, I view perimeter defending to be a little more valuable as outside shooting has become more prolific in today’s NBA. In this instance, I believe Tony’s perimeter defense and steals are slightly more valuable this season than Marc’s interior defense and blocks. Regardless, we are splitting hairs on this one.
Most Valuable Player: Mike Conley
Season Averages: 20.5 pts, 3.5 reb, 6.3 ast, 1.3 stl, 0.3 blk
Captain Clutch. Those words have been no truer until this season. Starting in March, the Grizzlies’ finished the season 6-14. During this time we saw Gasol go out, Parsons get shut down, everyone’s shot mysteriously began to disappear, yet…. Conley rose from the shadows of lackluster play and gave us some of the best play fans have seen out of their point guard.
Not only did he average career highs of 20.5 ppg, 45.9% FG, 40.7% 3PT, but he also had a total of ten 30+ point games this season, a personal best. Granted, Gasol also had an incredible year, but given all the pressure of being “over payed”, overcoming a back injury, a new coach, different playing style, etc. Conley has risen above all the adversity of this season and delivered one of the best campaigns fans could have asked for. Something we all knew he was capable of for many years. Even though this only scratches the surface of his incredible year, Mike Conley is definitely our Grizzlies MVP for the 2017 season.