The seven-game Thunder-Grizzlies series in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals included many of the same players that will combat in the 2013 West semifinals. In fact, each team has four of the same starters. But the benches are vastly different. And the Thunder avoided sharpshooter Rudy Gay in both series; he was injured in 2011 and was traded in February:
Point guard: Mike Conley remains, but he's much improved from two seasons ago.
Center: Marc Gasol remains, but he's become one of the league's best big men.
Power forward: Zach Randolph remains and still is a force; he made the all-star team in 2013.
Off guard: Tony Allen remains and his defense has gotten only better, if possible.
Wing: Tayshaun Prince, who came over in the Gay trade. In 2011, the Grizzlies started ineffective Sam Young.
Sixth man: The 2011 Grizzlies had O.J. Mayo, who could be inconsistent but explosive. These Grizzlies have Jarryd Bayless, who is much the same.
Backup point guard: The 2011 Grizzlies had Greivis Vasquez, who was decent. Now the backup point guard is Keyon Dooling, who turns 33 this week and was working in the Celtics' front office until the Grizzlies called in April.
Backup big man: Darrell Arthur remains but is much improved.
Specialist: Shane Battier was a defensive ace but now is gone to Miami, and there's no one like him now on the Memphis bench. Quincy Pondexter provides some offense.
Backup center: Hamed Haddadi was seldom used in 2011; same with Ed Davis in 2013.
Point guard: Reggie Jackson has replaced the injured Russell Westbrook. Big dropoff.
Center: Kendrick Perkins remains. He's better defensively now than in 2011, but his offense has regressed.
Power forward: Serge Ibaka remains. He's gotten much better over the two years.
Off guard: Thabo Sefolosha remains, and he's supplemented his expert defense with solid 3-point shooting.
Wing: Kevin Durant remains. Fantastic then. Better now.
Sixth man: James Harden has been replaced by Kevin Martin. A downgrade. Not that Martin doesn't have his moments.
Backup point guard: Eric Maynor, who was excellent in 2011, is gone. Derek Fisher sort of fills that role, but not really. Durant might be considered the backup point.
Backup big man: Nick Collison remains. The same yesterday, today and forever.
Specialist: Daequan Cook was a 3-point marksman in 2011; now the Thunder will call on defensive stopper DeAndre Liggins for a few minutes.
Backup center: Nazr Mohammed played quite a bit in that 2011 series and was effective, averaging over 12 minutes a game. Don't expect Hasheem Thabeet to play as much.