Oct 24, 2013, 8:44 AM EDT
Last season: After totaling up 56 wins in the regular season, the Memphis Grizzlies got sweet revenge over the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round, then extinguished a short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder team before finally falling to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. This was the best season in franchise history by a large margin.
Signature highlight from last season: Tayshaun Prince invites you to bring your whole crew.
Key player changes:
Considering the tiny amount of wiggle room the Grizzlies had under the luxury cap, there were some great additions made.
Kosta Koufos is one of the most underrated centers in the game, and he’ll mesh with Ed Davis and Zach Randolph much better than Darrell Arthur did. Nick Calathes has been one of the best players overseas the last few years, and getting a distributing backup point guard with size is another good fit. Jamaal Franklin could be scary in a few years if he stays glued to Tony Allen. There’s a lot of defensive potential there.
Mike Miller could be the biggest addition come playoff time, as the perimeter-shooting starved Grizzlies will welcome his presence as a floor-spacer when the games really matter.
The Grizzlies lost very little and made some very nice additions to the bench on the cheap. This might be the deepest team in the league.
Keys to the Grizzlies’ season:
1. Are the minor tweaks enough?
The Grizzlies got better this offseason, but was it enough? Despite having one of the league’s best defenses last year, this was still a team that sputtered offensively late in the postseason and was just the 17th ranked offense in efficiency during the season. The Grizzlies have gone against the grain for a while now, but placing last in three-point makes and attempts might not be good enough to take out the best of the best when the defense really steps up in the playoffs.
2. What’s in the cards for Zach Randolph?
We know the Grizzlies front office isn’t afraid to trade a big piece after the Rudy Gay trade, and the tax concerns in Memphis are very real. Ed Davis is on tap for an extension or a big offer in restricted free agency next season, and keeping both Davis and Randolph on the books next year would be very difficult. Randolph is still a valuable piece, but he may be in decline and Memphis will lose leverage the longer they wait on a deal. Could another blockbuster be on tap this year?
3. Was the decision to let go Lionel Hollins for Dave Joerger the right one?
Hollins may not have always been on board with the decisions of the front office, but to his credit, his teams always defended and played hard. Joerger should be able to get the same from a veteran roster, but whether he can improve the sometimes baffling rotations and game-management in his first season as a head coach will be interesting to watch. Memphis was the league’s slowest team last season in pace, but Joerger has said repeatedly that he wants to speed it up. Will that turn out to be coach-speak or a real strategy that jump starts a below-average offense?
Why you should watch the Grizzlies: Marc Gasol is a bonafide basketball genius. Spend a whole game watching just him, and you’ll marvel at his positioning and decision-making. Tony Allen adds the perfect amount of unpredictability to a predictably stifling defense, and Mike Conley‘s growing comfort level has led to more eye-popping plays. The Grizzlies are like a smart indie movie — the aesthetics may not always be on par with the competition, but it’s nuanced enough to be wholly enjoyable.
Prediction: 54 wins, the 4th seed and a second round exit. The Grizzlies are incredibly deep and will enjoy plenty of regular season success thanks to that defense, but the possible decline of the starting forwards (Tayshaun Prince and Zach Randolph) and the strength at the top of the Western Conference might make a deep playoff run difficult. Once we see what the Grizzlies do at the deadline, if anything at all, we should have a better idea of their playoff outlook.
Jul 11, 2014, 12:35 AM EDT
Will we actually know the result of Heat-Cavaliers before Germany-Argentina? Probably, but not definitely
Jul 10, 2014, 11:48 PM EDT
Hornets first-round pick making a lot of headlines for the wrong reasons
Jul 10, 2014, 10:47 PM EDT
Of course, Wallace believes Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant take over games
Jul 10, 2014, 9:44 PM EDT
Apparently, Melo returning to New York is not a forgone conclusion
Jul 10, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
Closing arguments are set for July 28, so no quick end to this.
Jul 10, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT
The Suns keep a fan favorite.
Jul 10, 2014, 7:35 PM EDT
The Suns already have a deep backcourt, but Thomas would fit their offense.
Jul 10, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT
This will either be the garbage-time sideshow for Miami next season, or the lone bastion of hope for the future of what remains of Heat fans.
Jul 10, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT
Like everyone else, Phil Jackson is in a holding pattern.
Jul 10, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT
Why would you show up to LeBron’s empty house?
Jul 10, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT
He had a good playoff run for Memphis, that got him a new deal.
Jul 10, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
“Instead of thinking of reasons why your coach should be playing you, honestly assess reasons as to why he isn’t.”
Jul 10, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT
A run down of the free agent signings we have so far.
Jul 10, 2014, 2:51 PM EDT
Houston has 72 hours to match
Jul 10, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT
Tolliver could land on a quality team next season.
Jul 10, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT
Signing likely signals end of Mo Williams’ time in Portland
Jul 10, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
The market for Evan Turner has been a bit dry. To put it kindly.
Jul 10, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT
Denver’s first-round pick, acquired from Bulls, won’t spend another year in Europe
Jul 10, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Washington reportedly refusing to pay Ariza more than $9 million per year
Jul 10, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT
Phoenix clears cap room
- Report: Heat and Cavaliers expect decision before LeBron James leaves for Sunday’s World Cup final 10
- Reports: Carmelo Anthony unsure on Knicks, can’t get the Bulls out of his head 44
- Phil Jackson says he has not heard from Carmelo, has tried to recruit Gasol 34
- With lower-than-expected salary cap, will Rockets and Pelicans still complete Omer Asik trade? 19
- Reports: LeBron James and agent done meeting with teams 80
- Rockets can’t keep Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons and give Chris Bosh max contract 46
- Donald Sterling in court calls wife “pig,” promises to sue NBA “until I die” 43
- Report: LeBron James leaves meeting with Pat Riley without committing to Heat 86