2015-16 NBA Record: 42-40
Additions: Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks), James Ennis (New Orleans Pelicans), Tony Wroten (New York Knicks), Troy Williams (Indiana Pacers), Wade Baldwin IV (draft), Deyonta Davis (draft), Troy Daniels (drafted from Charlotte Hornets)
Subtractions: Matt Barnes (Sacramento Kings)
Projected Starting Line-up:
PG – Mike Conley
SG – Tony Allen
SF – Chandler Parsons
PF – Zach Randolph
C – Marc Gasol
The Grizzlies played an NBA record 28 players last season as a result of all the injuries suffered during the year, yet somehow they managed to make the playoffs. This season, they look to be a threat once again in a conference dominated by the Spurs, Warriors and Clippers with first-year coach David Fizdale. They paid nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons – two players who have never made an All-Star, which puts pressure on these two to deliver. The window also seems to be closing with Randolph and Gasol starting to play past their respective primes, but despite this, Memphis is still one of the toughest defensive sides in the league.
They’re a big 3 that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph lead the way for this franchise and how this season plays out will depend on whether these three can stay on the court together. Gasol is one of the top passing big men in the NBA and possesses great footwork in the post, an ability to spin in either direction effectively, as well as a turnaround jumper that’s tough to defend. However, he’s just come back from a broken foot back in February and will look to remain healthy. Conley is the most underrated point guard in the league (that was until he got paid big money in free agency) and is a nightmare on defense for his opponents. His play-making ability isn’t flashy, but it’s effective. He’ll be out to prove this season that he can stay healthy and that he’s worth his contract. Randolph is a double-double machine who can crash the boards effectively and is a tough and physical presence in the post, on both sides of the ball. The biggest addition was Chandler Parsons who provides the shooting Memphis needs and is not a bad defender is his own right. He seems like a good fit for this team which could be the key to making the post-season. However like Gasol, Parsons suffered an injury to his knee that required surgery. Whether he can fully recover from this injury will be the question. Brandon Wright was a player the Grizzlies missed last season with his energy bringing down rebounds and being a solid pick’n’roll partner. Vince Carter is not as effective anymore, but is still a locker room leader in his limited role. Tony Allen has always been a top defender, but is slowing down with age and injuries.
Memphis will always be a team that’s not flashy, but certainly effective. They’re a tough, physical side that’s led by their big 3. Since they were decimated by injuries last season, they’ll be all looking to stay healthy. When fully healthy, the Grizzlies are one of the best defenses in the league. However, their main weakness is shooting. Parsons will help in this department, but it’s not a one-man job. David Fizdale is a former Miami Heat assistant who had a profound impact during the Lebron era, but has the task of taking Memphis to the next step, something Dave Joerger or Lionel Hollins couldn’t do. Since Joerger is in Sacramento, the side growing old with age and the injuries that could limit this side, as well as the fact they’re in the toughest division in the West, I think Memphis will regress this year.
Prediction: 4th in Southwest Division