If we discount the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies has
to be considered the most surprising team in the Western Conference
last season. They were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the
league, as the oddmakers had them listed to win 28/29 wins, but instead
they finished the season with a 40-42 record.
Few may remember but Allen Iverson played for the Grizzlies earlier
on the season and surprisingly or not, the Grizzlies had tremendous team
chemistry problems and started the season 2-8 in the first 10 games.
They also finished the season without center Marc Gasol for the last 15
games, in which they went 5-10, so the young Grizzlies went 33-24
between these two periods of time!
They were one of the most physical teams behind Randolph and Gasol,
as they ended up being the second best rebounding team in the league by
outrebounding their opponents by 3.78 rebounds per game. They also led
the NBA in points in the paint per game by scoring 51.3ppg – the only
team that has topped the 50 points mark last season, while their defense
was suspicious in the first half of season.
With a strong starting unit core, the Grizzlies lacked depth and
quality on their bench and naturally when one of their starters went
down due to an injury, the team didn’t have the solutions to make up the
bad luck. Their second unit was by far the worst unit in the league by
averaging only 20 points per game and not being a factor in the games.
Zach Randolph gained some life in his NBA career and went to the All
Star game, while Marc Gasol developed into a solid center in the
league. These two good frontcourt surprises helped them to forget the
Hasheem Thabeet fiasco - He was the highest draft pick ever to spend
time in the D-League!
It was a solid season for a young team searching for a true
identity; consistency and development are the key words for the upcoming
2009/10 Advanced stats:
Pace 8th 97.5
Offense 13th 105.1
Defense 18th 106.5
Rebounds 2nd +3.78
Projected Depth Chart:
PG: Mike Conley, Acie Law, Greivis Vasquez
SG: O.J. Mayo, Tony Allen, Xavier Henry
SF: Rudy Gay, DeMarre Carroll, Sam Young
PF: Zach Randolph, Darrell Arthur
C: Marc Gasol , Hasheem Thabeet, Hamed Haddadi
Even though the Grizzlies didn’t make any substantial upgrade in the
offseason besides their draft picks, it was a busy offseason for GM
Chris Wallace. Wallace gave a 5-year $82 million contract to Rudy Gay
(the 6th largest of the summer) on the first day of free agency; then
he refused to make a $3.7 million qualifying offer to restricted
free-agent Ronnie Brewer and watched Brewer sign with the Bulls for
nearly the same contract as Tony Allen – his replacement on the roster.
Finally he went into a contract dispute with first-round draft pick
Xavier Henry over what amounts to be near $350,000 after giving Rudy
Gay $80 million.
That was the Grizzlies offseason my friends! With so few changes in
the roster, the Grizzlies hopes for the natural development of their
youngest players and some consistency of their veteran players led by
Randolph put together a solid offensive season like he has been
doing in his career, but this time he was healthy enough to start 81
games – career high and his behavior on and off the court was exemplar
during the season. Few Power Forwards in the league can say that they
averaged 20.8ppg and 11.8rpg, while shooting 48.8% from the field and
that was Zach’s numbers. However in the offseason Randolph’s name was
mentioned, but for the wrong reasons, as he was accused of being a
“major marijuana supplier” in the state of Indiana, a charge he has
denied. Let’s see what Randolph’s version we will watch this season,
nevertheless his 20 and 10 numbers are almost automatic for him.
He did average a career high 37 minutes a game last season mainly
because his natural backup Darrell Arthur played only 32 games and had
an injury riddled season. A healthy Darrell Arthur would reduce those
By giving Rudy Gay an $80 million contract, the Grizzlies labeled him as their franchise player, but is he worthy of such tag?
He is coming from a season in which he averaged 19.6ppg, 5.9rpg and
1.9apg, while shooting 46.6% from the field. His 1.7 assists per game
during his 4-years career in the NBA are a good indicator that Gay will
never be a facilitator on the offensive end, but instead a dynamic and
athletic scorer that is only 24-years old. His PER production was only
16.30 vs. 21.21 from Zach Randolph, so he needs to raise his level in
order to be the uncontested best player in the team. He played for the
US team in the FIBA World Cup this season alongside others NBA Superstar
players and this might help him to reach a kind of maturity that he’s
still lacking on his game.
The Grizzlies backcourt is an inexperienced unit and showed some natural inconsistency last season.
Mike Conley was the Grizzlies’ floor general in 2009-10 by default,
but he’s far from being the player the Grizzlies envisioned by drafting
him with the fourth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. True be told here is
the Guards class from that draft: Acie Law, Rodney Stuckey, Nick Young,
Javaris Crittenton and Aaron Brooks – not that impressive!
Nevertheless he did average a career high of 12.0 points, 5.3 assists
and 1.4 steals in 32 minutes a game last season.
However his level of play in the second half of season was
impressive, as Conley turned more aggressive on both ends of the floor
scoring double digits points in the Grizzlies’ final 15 games, while
averaging 17.0 points, nearly six assists and 48-percent shooting: He
averaged 14.8 points, 5.8 assists and 46-percent shooting in 31 games
after All-Star Weekend. If Conley can sustain this kind of level through
the entire regular season, then the Grizzlies would be happy with
their decision a couple of season ago.
The Grizzlies tried to run O.J. Mayo as Point Guard during the
summer league, but the experiment wasn’t good, as Mayo dished 6 assists
and 15 turnovers in just two games, so we can expect Mayo to be the
premium Shooting Guard of the team. Mayo put almost the same numbers as
his rookie season which isn’t a good sign: Using Hollinger’s Player
Efficiency Rating he was the 23th most valuable SG in the league! In a
team already stocked with two first scoring minded players in Randolph
and Gay, he unselfishly took a lesser role on offense last season. It’s
up to him to improve his efficiency and shooting% numbers while playing
a more playmaker kind of role for the team.
It’s hard to believe but Marc Gasol somehow saved the disastrous
trade that the Grizzlies made a couple of years ago with the Lakers for
his older brother Pau Gasol. He had an impressive sophomore season
before tearing a neck muscle in mid March. Marc got himself into shape
by losing 20+ pounds last summer and finished the season with averages
of 14.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, while shooting 58.1% from
the field. He is coming from playing for the Spanish National team this
summer in the FIBA’s World Cup, so the Grizzlies must have some
cautions regarding his healthy and heavy usage through the season so it
would be nice if Hasheem Thabeet shows some signs of life and can
slide into the backup center position and give the Grizzlies 15 solid
minutes off the bench.
Once again the Grizzlies biggest weakness going for this season is
their lack of depth beyond the starting unit. They signed veteran Tony
Allen to bring some veteran ship and toughness to the team. Rookie
Xavier Henry has the potential of becoming a solid spot-up shooter who
has good size and can hit from the long distance and they have also Sam
Young who is a poor’s Rudy Gay version coming off the bench.
With basically the same roster of the last season, the Grizzlies are
putting some high expectation on the top of the table. They want their
young guns to develop into solid players, while Zach Randolph has to be
a role model player on and off the court. To count with an injury free
season of their best players is always dangerous for any team in the
league especially for the team that had the worst bench last season, but
that’s the way the Grizzlies were built for this season.
Thanks Warwick! Yep, previews for all teams ;) one per day!
These previews are top drawer Andre, do you plan to do the whole league?
Agree with everything you write about the Grizz here. Again the question for them will be depth off the bench which should be aided by the addition of Allen.
They seem to have put a lot of faith into the starting line up which is not a bad thing. A huge issue for the Grizz last year was they were playing tired which along with their injuries saw the slumping finish. I admit they are a hard one to predict but I expect a big season from them.