As the NBA season quickly approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will focus on the Memphis Grizzlies, who last year had a record of 56-26 and made the playoffs.
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Coach: Dave Joerger
General Manager: Chris Wallace
2012-2013 Record: 56-26
Place in Conference: 5th
Leading Scorer: Zach Randolph (15.4 PPG)
Key Additions: F Mike Miller, C Kosta Koufos, G Jamaal Franklin
Key Losses: F Darrell Arthur, G Keyon Dooling, G Tony Wroten
The grittiest and grindiest team in the land is back for another go-around, with a new head coach and an improved roster on the horizon. Among the Western Conference teams, I don’t think there’s a more safe team to analyze. We know they’ll be elite defensively. We know they can rebound and out-muscle almost anyone on the inside. We know their three-point shooting will range from bad to hilariously terrible. They will probably be improved in a few key spots, which is why the Grizzlies are going to right in the thick of the West race again this year.
The Grizzlies’ main strengths are on the defensive end, and will be as long as Tony Allen and Marc Gasol play on the court at the same time together. Gasol might be the best defensive center in the league, and Allen is the league’s most destructive perimeter defender. But that’s not all! Mike Conley’s a solid defensive point guard, Jamaal Franklin is potentially another Tony Allen on the perimeter (he should have been a first-round pick), Zach Randolph can bully any player down low even if he’s not the most technically sound player, and Kosta Koufos was the only semblance of defensive ability in the Nuggets frontcourt last season. Joerger also will likely handle substitutions in a way that makes logical sense, unlike Lionel Hollins, so with Ed Davis actually getting minutes (yay!) and Koufos backing up Gasol, the Grizzlies will be stacked in the frontcourt. Offensively, the Grizzlies will be improved from outside, with Mike Miller and Quincy Pondexter on the outside providing more of a look than Memphis got last year. It won’t be perfect, but will be aided by the defense, which is already atop you and driving you into the earth with a simultaneous sleeper hold and body slam.
Offense could still be an issue for the Grizzlies, thanks to the nature of the players at hand. Tony Allen shot 12.5 percent from three last season, a number usually reserved for centers who only ever chuck threes at the end of quarters. Allen is so good on defense he plays it for the other team with his offense. Likewise, Tayshaun Prince hasn’t been too strong on offense in the past two years, and the bench is still sketchy offensively. Guard depth outside of Jerryd Bayless just isn’t there, although I do expect Franklin to help. Bayless is the closest thing they have to a backup point guard, so if Mike Conley goes down, they are going to be in huge trouble, and also suddenly HILARIOUS to watch, because Jerryd Bayless, starting NBA point guard is a title that should never have even been conceived. There’s also the issue of Mike Miller, who is incredibly injury prone at this point, and might not have much use in the regular season. Will that negatively affect them?
2013-2014 Season Predictions
-Will finish as the 4th or 5th seed in the West
-Will make the West Semis; it does not matter who they match up with in the first round, because this is Memphis, and they will grind that opponent into dust
-Will certainly be grabbing a point guard for the stretch run. Maybe Bassy Telfair post-China stint?
-Will be much more competent on offense
-Will not miss Lionel Hollins in the slightest