Highs and Lows: Memphis Grizzlies

09.30.08 9 years ago 11 Comments
Rudy GayRudy Gay, Dime #25

NBA training camps are underway. While we wait for the games to start, we’re going team-by-team, from 1 to 30, exploring what each team’s ceiling is for the upcoming season and where their basement is. In other words, what are the realistic best-case and worst-case scenarios for each squad?

Additions: SG O.J. Mayo, C Marc Gasol, PF Darrell Arthur, SF Antoine Walker, PG Marko Jaric, SG Greg Buckner, C Hamed Haddadi.

Losses: SF Mike Miller, SG Juan Carlos Navarro, C Kwame Brown, SF Brian Cardinal.

Ceiling: 30 wins
At least you can see a plan taking shape in Memphis, which is more than you could say about this franchise six months ago. The foundation for rebuilding is in place with Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, and whoever amongst the Young Point Guards Club (Mike Conley Jr., Kyle Lowry and Javaris Crittenton) separates himself from the pack. And if the Grizzlies get lucky, Project Big Man (Gasol, Haddadi, Darko) will yield at least one competent center. With some consistency regarding the roster — meaning no major trades — and another year of experience for some key guys, the Grizzlies should improve on last season’s 22-win mark. But barring major injuries across the board to a handful of other teams, there’s no way Memphis escapes last place in their own division, let alone plays well enough to even think about the playoffs. Right now it’s all about potential and patience.

Basement: 20 wins
Rudy Gay put up 20.1 points and 6.2 boards last year and finished second in Most Improved Player voting. But as good as he is, his game seems closer to an Andre Iguodala/Scottie Pippen-type, as in he’d be ideal as your second-best player, not your go-to guy. The only way that won’t be the case in Memphis is if O.J. turns into a superstar, which is possible, but likely won’t happen right away. Memphis made moves to get better in the offseason, but so did the rest of the already murderous Southwest: namely Houston, New Orleans, Dallas and San Antonio. And for a young team facing a tough divisional slate, it’s imperative to get off to a solid start, but Memphis has six of its first eight regular season games on the road; and after that they also get the Jazz, Spurs and Mavs on the road before November is out. The biggest area for improvement here is defense. Last year Memphis was 28th in points allowed (behind the Nuggets and Warriors), and tied the Bucks for the League’s worst field goal percentage D — meaning they gave up a lot of layups and transition buckets. Along with finishing 26th in rebounding differential, the numbers don’t lie: Memphis needs a quality big man to step up. And unless Marc Gasol plays like the star he was in Spain, I don’t see that guy on this roster.

’08-09 NBA preview archives
9/26 — Toronto Raptors
9/25 — New Orleans Hornets
9/24 — Atlanta Hawks
9/23 — Sacramento Kings
9/22 — Miami Heat
9/19 — Portland Trail Blazers
9/18 — New Jersey Nets
9/17 — Minnesota Timberwolves
9/16 — Cleveland Cavaliers
9/15 — Phoenix Suns
9/12 — Milwaukee Bucks
9/11 — L.A. Clippers
9/10 — Orlando Magic

Around The Web