The Memphis Grizzlies have two of the best defensive players in the league. Yet, by NBA standards, neither are considered a superstar, even though Marc Gasol was recently named Defensive Player of the Year.
With the Grizzlies currently battling the Oklahoma City Thunder, it's clear the opposition is led by superstar Kevin Durant.
ESPN's Chris Vernon says the Grizzlies have several talented players, yet this team is still the underdog, "Simply because of the way the record played out in the regular season, they're always going to be the underdog because they're the team that's not going to have home court advantage."
Vernon compares the current roster to the 2004 Detroit Pistons, who won the NBA championship with current Grizzly, Tayshaun Prince.
"They won on the defensive end of the court, as does this Grizzlies Team. So in the case that you're able to do with a collection of really good players that are unbelievable defensively and maybe that's at least been the blueprint of how a team won without a superstar."
Star or not, this team shines brightly with its true fans. Chris Shumaker admits the Grizzlies need to beat OKC, then the Spurs and probably Miami. He believes this team has what it takes.
"Coach Hollins has got us playing very well our two bigs and the guards play has been outstanding, so I think we have a really good shot at going all the way without that said superstar," says Shumaker.
But, it's the superstar the NBA banks on. So even with solid players like Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley or Tony Allen, it's the star who typically catches the attention.
"The Grizzlies aren't on national TV all of the time, they're buried when it comes to Sports Center and so the people that really understand how good he is are hardcore NBA fans," says Vernon. "If you've got Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol playing at the peak of their power and this team is lock in defensively, who knows if they're going to win the whole thing, but they're going to go down swinging."