GritGrindGrizz: The problem with bringing Zach Randolph back as designated rebounder



As of Nov. 8, that’s how many NBA teams are better at rebounding than the Memphis Grizzlies.

For those of you who do math, the answer is yes: That means the Grizzlies are dead last in the NBA in the category, getting outrebounded by an average of nearly seven boards a game.

Seven. Boards. A game.

The fact that the team was able to win a thrilling 89-87 nailbiter against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Denver won the battle of the boards 51-47.

And it will certainly matter when the team faces two top-10 rebounding teams in Philadelphia (Nov. 10) and Utah (Nov. 12). Excellent defense can cover for a lot, but it’s Basketball 101 that all that hard work means nothing if you don’t come up with the ball at the end of the play.

How did we get here? JaMychal Green’s facial injury certainly didn’t help. Jaren Jackson Jr. is a rookie still adjusting to the NBA game and, while capable, shouldn’t be counted on to dominate the glass.

And if you’re waiting on Marc Gasol to crash the glass . . . keep waiting. Not only has much of his career been spent deferring to a certain No. 50 on the block, the whole NBA is chucking longer shots, which leads to more rebounds away from the basket.

I’ve asked Coach J. B. Bickerstaff about this on a few occasions. He gives the right answers — “Everyone’s got to go get one more rebound,” he says, referring mostly to his perimeter players.

But in truth, the Grizzlies need another big – one known for rebounding. And with the recent release of Andrew Harrison, there’s now a roster spot open.

And some people want it to go to Zach Randolph.

Memphis’ favorite adopted son is absent from the rotation in Sacramento, which has gone all in on its youth movement. The theory is that Randolph will be bought out eventually, and free to sign with any team he chooses.

If there’s one thing Randolph can do, it’s rebound the ball, particularly on the offensive glass. It was ages ago now, but before #Feed50 became a thing, Z-Bo routinely racked up double-doubles without plays being run for him – purely on the offensive glass.

In theory, Randolph could come off the bench, snatch boards and provide reliable post offense for the Grizzlies second unit.

It’s also not hard to imagine Z-Bo tutoring fellow Michigan State alum Jackson on the finer points of footwork and post play.

But you’d also get a reminder of why the team parted ways with him in the first place. The NBA isn’t getting any slower. At 36, Randolph is.

Maybe all this gets resolved as Jackson blossoms into NBA superstar or after JaMychal Green returns to the lineup. Maybe all the wing players “go get one more,” as Bickerstaff has preached.

But if the team is to have any hope of being a winning team, let alone a postseason one, being dead last on the glass has got to stop.