Seeing that the Grizzlies franchise is only fifteen years young, it was relatively easy selecting the Five Best Players in Vancouver/Memphis Grizzly history. The challenging part was sorting out the players from one to five. Many factors went into building the list of the best players in Grizzly history. These factors are as follows: statistical production, statistical efficiency, team impact, and a few other intangibles such as leadership and even fan favoritism. Without further adieu, here's your Top Five Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies of All Time.
- Pau Gasol – Gasol made a living from '01 to '08 putting up numbers that rivaled any center in the league. He quietly managed to average 18.7 points per contest and pull down 8.6 boards a game. In 2006, Gasol became the first Grizzly to be selected to the Western Conference All Star team. He also holds the franchise record for most points in a single game (44). Aside from his personal accolades, Gasol was seen as the leader of the 2003 Memphis Grizzlies squad that finished the season at a franchise best mark of 50-32. He is currently the leader in points and rebounds in Grizzlies history. Gasol was drafted third overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2001 draft, but coincidentally was traded to the Grizzlies straight up for the number two player in Grizzlies history.
- Shareef Abdur-Rahim – Abdur-Rahim, known for being the Grizzlies first high profile draft pick, put up nearly All Star caliber numbers in Vancouver from ’96 to ’01. He is currently ranked second in points and rebounds in Grizzlies franchise history after only five years of service. Abdur-Rahim was “snubbed” out of the 2000 All Star weekend after averaging 20.3 points and 10.1 rebounds a game that season. Abdur-Rahim is easily in the top two players in Grizzlies history simply because he led the expansion team, the Vancouver Grizzlies, from the bottom of the NBA to a respectable franchise.
- Mike Bibby – Bibby never stuffed the stat sheets in his brief tenure in Vancouver with the Grizzlies; however, he was one of the leading faces of the franchise in its early years. The Grizzlies knew how much talent Bibby had and selected him second overall out of the University of Arizona in the 1998 draft. At the time he was a Grizzly he managed very respectable seasons such as: 15.9 points, 8.4 assist and 3.7 rebounds in the ’00-’01 season. Mike Bibby by a long shot makes the list of top 5 Grizzlies of all time.
- Rudy Gay – Rudy Gay is the youngest member of the Five Best Grizzlies of all time club. He was drafted eighth overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2006 NBA draft before being sent to Memphis for Shane Battier, a fellow Top Five Grizzly. Gay picked up in the NBA right where he left off as a Husky, averaging 10.8 points and 4.5 rebounds as a rookie. As a sophomore in the NBA, Gay improved in nearly every statistical category having his best season as a Grizzly. If Gay sticks around the Grizzlies organization, you could see him move up this list quickly.
- Shane Battier – As mentioned before, Battier was shipped to Houston in 2006 in a controversial deal; Nobody in Memphis wanted to see Battier go. Battier spent five seasons in the Grizzlies organization, all of which he received recognition for his stifling defense, intense effort and his timely scoring. Battier gave the Grizzlies a swagger they had never possessed before, which squeaks him into the Five Best Grizzlies of all time.
Zach Randolph – Randolph is receiving and honorable mention bid for the Top Five Grizzlies of All Time. Randolph didn’t make the list simply because he has only played half of a regular season with the franchise; However, he is putting together one of the strongest seasons in franchise history. Randolph is averaging 20.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per contest, which earned him a bid to the 2010 All Star Game.
There you have it, the Top Five Grizzlies of All Time. Not the most illustrious list of players, but they are undoubtedly a couple potential Hall of Famers in the crowd.
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