NBA / Oct 1, 2009 / 10:37 am

Memphis or OKC: Who’s Better?

Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay

Two teams that are going to force a lot of people to buy league passes this season are the Thunder and the Grizzlies. I can’t say for sure whether either will be playoff teams (most likely neither), but I can promise that they will both be exciting to watch. Even though Memphis and OKC stole franchises from the beautiful northwest (my former stomping grounds), you better believe I’ll be strapped to the tube watching those teams all season long.

Both squads have talented young cores that have improved themselves over the offseason. Last season they both had almost identical records. Oklahoma City went 23-59, while Memphis finished at 24-58. My question is: which team will have a better record this time around?

With the second pick in the draft, Memphis snagged Hasheem Thabeet out of UConn. The 7-3 center will definitely help on the defensive end, but the jury is still out whether he is the next Hakeem Olajuwan or the next Shawn Bradley. One thing is certain though: Thabeet won’t make a major impact this season. At least one not one significant enough to add 10 wins to last year’s mark.

What might help them though, are the acquisitions of two talented veterans: Allen Iverson and Zach Randolph. Iverson was kind of overlooked in free agency and you can bet he’s holding a grudge coming into the season. It’s going to be exciting to watch A.I. running the break with O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay on the wings. Even though he’s a P.R. nightmare, Z-Bo has always been able to put up numbers in the paint. I could really see his game meshing well with the Grizzlies’ young group.

The Thunder on the other hand, did not load up as far as free agency is concerned but their core guys (Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook) continue get better by the day. Last season, we saw Durant’s game really blossom – 20.3 ppg and 4.4 rpg in ’07-08 to 25.3 ppg and 6.5 rpg in ’08-09. Expect to see the 21-year-old forward take his game to that all-star level this season. Second-year point guard, Westbrook surprised a lot of people with his awe-inspiring athleticism and solid numbers (15.3 points and 5.3 assists). Between him, Green and the addition of sharp-shooting rookie James Harden, the Thunder have a real chance to make some noise.

Who will finish the year with a better record is hard to say. You know the Thunder are definitely going to improve their record by at least 10 games. The question is, how well will the Grizzlies gel? Because on paper, they could be a playoff team. If O.J. steps up his game and Iverson and Randolph fit in well with coach Lionel Hollins’ system than they could very well step ahead of OKC in the power rankings. Since Memphis ranked last in the West for points per game (93.9), getting two proven scorers will help. I also think the Grizz are a better defensive team, so if I were a betting man, I’d have to give the slight nod to Memphis having more wins come April.

What do you think? Who’s going to be better this season: the Thunder or the Grizzlies?

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  • That’s whats up

    I’d have to go with OKC. They’re the better team and are less likely to have chemistry issues (see Memphis signing A.I.)

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    I agree with that’s whats up. Memphis has too many egos in my opinion. I like the talent, chemistry, and potential unselfishness that OKC brings. The only edge that Memphis has is it’s big men.

  • IGP

    I really think that Memphis won’t be that bad this year.They are at least solid at every position and have decent enough back ups. They could be the 8th seed, but who knows really.

  • Reddi Red

    i would have to say Memphis gets the edge.
    not really because of AI. i actually don’t see AI getting “that” much PT come January. He is a chemistry destroyer and the front office & fans will begin to see this. there’s a reason he was a FA for as long as he was. Let’s hope Zack can become a leader. I expect Rudy and OJ to have a breakout year only if AI’s PT is limited.

  • ProphetGK

    Thunder no doubt, one of the best young cores in the league, and true competitors… don’t be surprised if they crack the playoff race this year…

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    its gotta be memphis.

    who is gonna grab a rebound for the thunder?
    if kevin durant has a bad game shooting or scoring, where are the points going to come from? can they scrounge another 50pts out of their team?

  • control

    OKC, this isn’t even a valid question. Memphis is going to suck this year, when you have a shitty team that gives away it’s best assets yearly, and then picks up complete garbage in Fat Zach and AI (from a team stand point, Zach can butcher buffets and AI would tear up a 1on1 tourney) you know they ain’t aiming on getting better. Picking up AI and Zach can only hurt OJ and Rudy, it’s like having a Lambo and Bentley in your garage, then you decide to park a rusty beat up Ford Escort beside them, and pull in blind folded every time. You MIGHT not fuck up your good cars the first night, or even the first week, but you know you gonna fuck that shit up eventually.

  • Spencers Mom

    ‘What might help them though, are the acquisitions of two talented veterans: Allen Iverson and Zach Randolph’ Totally agree that they are talented. BUT neither of these guys seem to make the teams they have been on the past three years better. They both have ‘me first’ game styles and I would not want them around rookies, especially together, especially with a weak coach, especially with clueless management. I hope they prove me wrong though.

  • Jake

    OKC by far. Durant is about to explode onto the scene. Westbrook and Green are both improving everyday and they had solid draft picks in Harden and B.J. Mullens. Memphis is just too many question marks. How will AI and Randolph mesh with the team? More likely than not they wont mesh, and this team will implode. Memphis had a great draft but acquring 2 players as selfish as them can only spell trouble.

  • Kobeef


    AI and Z-Bo are going to ruin Memphis. Rudy will be lucky to get 5 shots a game with AI and Z-Bo on the floor.

  • stinky

    “Oklahoma City went 29-59″
    so they played 88 games?
    including, preseason games???

  • Boofrog

    I think OKC will be better.

    But the real point is this:
    Zach Randolph sucks. He is a team cancer. He is a terrible guy and an overrated player. I can’t remember who, but somebody on the Dime staff has a huuuuge man crush on him and I can’t understand why.

    He’s the Jamal Crawford of big men. He puts up good numbers on terrible teams. Look at his numbers. Yes, quite shiny and pretty…but every team he has been on is absolutely terrible. I mean seriously. Why the hell would you want this guy on your team?

    He will never ever ever ever win a ring.

  • liukz


    i dont know about that one

  • doc

    I aint just giving OKC 10 more wins.For what?They got somebody new?I like them better than Memphis only bedcause Memphis got Zach and AI.2 cats you dont sign when you trying to win games.

  • ab_40

    grizzles has the better players OKC seems like the better ‘team’ it depends on AI and Randolph those are the new ‘big guns’ in memphis and their succes depends on mashing with the other players.

  • Notorious

    One is a team, the other is 5 selfish individuals, mark me down for OKC in a landslide.

    Durant is the real deal, expecting big, big things from the kid.

  • K Dizzle

    Best player – Durant
    best point guard – Westbrook
    best coach – ?
    OKC got the better team, with no doubt who the man is
    Mem got AI tryin to prove he ain’t done, Zach tryin to prove he can win, Conley tryin to keep his job, and OJ and Rudy tryin to find out who’s team it is. Too many guys goin for theirs

  • nowwhatyo

    OKC will have a better record. You need an unquestioned leader for your team, and I think Memphis will all fight among themselves trying to prove that they should be that “go to person.” Essentially, Memphis will implode. OKC understands that their leader is Durant, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. And because of this, OKC will be better. On top of that, Westbrook will break out this year, and Scott Brooks is a better coach. Lionel Hollins can’t and won’t do anything with Memphis. No one on Memphis will bother even listening to him.

  • sh!tfaced

    These are two franchises who are building teams in two very different ways.

    OKC is using the slow and sure way by means of the draft, to get and develop young talent, let them play and grow together and build up chemistry to eventually become contenders in the near future.

    Memphis is getting there by going through the fast lane. Using their draft picks, sometimes to get young talent and sometimes to bring in a solid veteran. They also gamble with players who have superstar talent but with some baggage, while also trying to stay under the salary cap and hope that a combination of talented vets, solid role players and young studs with lots of potential will work for them in becoming a solid team competing for the playoffs.

  • waveforce

    you are all garbage and bag of s***

  • Promoman

    OKC hands down, even if Memphis wins more. Memphis has Allen Iverson and Zach Randolph. Allen will start tripping before the end of the season and that’s a guarantee. Zach may be the most important acquisition since Memphis has had no post scoring option since Pau Gasol got traded. He’s a fuck-up waiting to happen too. OKC has a better core and an up-and-coming superstar in Kevin Durant, who wants to work.

  • dagwaller

    A lot of people in here are wrong. I read something on RealGM the other day that’s giving me pause on my OKC optimism ( http://www.realgm.com/src_feature_pieces/822/20090924/honestly_appraising_oklahoma_city/s_championship_potential/ )

    Essentially, Durant is very good but needs to get better defensively to be the game-changer that we think he is, and Jeff Green isn’t as good as we think he is.

    Even without that, though, I’d give the answer to this question to the Grizzlies. SIMLY BECAUSE their division got so much worse, in my opinion. They’ll steal a game or two from the Rockets, since they won’t be as good. I also think that the Hornets are going to be simply “above average” again, instead of “good” to “very good”.

    Meanwhile, the Northwest…I mean, the Wolves can’t be any worse than they were last year, and the Jazz, Nugs, and Trailblazers are all just as good as they were. Who are the Thunder going to steal wins from?

  • http://dimemag.com Dime Magazine

    It definitely looks like most of you guys think OKC will be better this year. I agree that chemistry issues and too many people in the Grizzlies are selfish. But I think coming into this A.I. knows that they still want to develop Conley and understands his role. If him and Randolph can check their egos at the door and not mess with the development of Mayo and Gay and them, they are definitely a better team than OKC this year.

  • Name (required)

    OKC will be better than last season, i think thats a given, but their improvements will be subtle.
    Memphis on the other hand could go either way, they could get alot better, or just implode…. chances are the latter, the sort of teams that just go and spend their money on the best player available with no regard for fit and chemistry usually suck. Watch out for Memphis to become the new New york, where GMs go to dump their crap.

  • rangerjohn

    i am picking OKC to be the sleeper/wild card this year and i am picking them to take the 8th spot in the west just ahead of houston and phx.

    1 la
    2 sa
    3 por
    4 den
    5 dal
    6 utah
    7 no
    8 okc
    10 phx/hou
    11 who cares

  • knock knock

    um, ohklah. was one of the worst teams last year. Not much will change this year either. which team is worse??

  • bentley03

    Without a doubt, Memphis. OJ Mayo is way too good. He was only a rookie last year and seemed to be the leader of the team. Rudy Gay will be an All Star as well. Memphis will be a whole lot better. WITHOUT A DOUBT MEMPHIS.

    A.I. knows his role and will not cause any trouble. He still has a lot more to prove.

    Z-BO has dropped something like 30lbs. He will never be cut and ripped, he’s just a big guy. But he will be a lot quicker this year.

    Their egos were checked at the door and there will be no chemistry issues in Memphis, and if there are it will be with the FO.

  • cheif youngblood

    the Grizzlies , just a more talented

    i do think however durant is the single best player in this scenario

  • DJ Ned C

    Phil Jackson said you can only have one backwards walking Indian. The Grizzlies have two, and one of them has c-cups.

  • matthew

    1. the jury is most certainly NOT OUT on whether Thabeet is the next Olajuwon. They came back after 1.5 seconds of deliberation with a “HELL NO”.

    2. the only people Iverson is going to be taking his frustrations out on is his own team: for losing; for bringing him off the bench; and for having 3 other black holes on offense (aside from him). Iverson does not have the capacity to punish other teams anymore.

    3. Can’t we all agree at this point that no matter what sort of personal stat line he puts up, Zach Randolph is a terrible addition to any team? We’re talking about a guy who in three years, three teams (Portland, NY, Clippers) either gave away for free or PAID someone to take. And then they got better.

    It’s got to be the Thunder, as much as I hate them. At least they’re a coherent basketball team. The Grizzlies roster has been assembled by a crazy person who hates winning.