2016-17 Record: 43-39 (took the Spurs to six games in the opening round)
Players Added: Tyreke Evans (FA), Ben McLemore (FA), Mario Chalmers (FA), Kobi Simmons (FA), Dillon Brooks (draft), Ivan Rabb (draft),
Players Lost: Zach Randolph (FA), Vince Carter (FA), Tony Allen (FA)
Projected Team MVP: Mike Conley
Conley is the league’s most underrated point guard and a sort of darling among his peers, not to mention a perennial All-Star snub, but he finally got some long-overdue recognition in Sports Illustrated‘s always controversial Top 100 players countdown, where at No. 18 he earned the nod over consensus top-tier floor generals like Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry.
He’s improved some facet of his game every year he’s been in the league, and last season, at the behest of new coach David Fizdale, he was much more aggressive offensively while converting more efficiently from long-range than he ever has before.
Marc Gasol is in many ways the anchor for this squad on both ends of the floor with his defense, court awareness, and increasingly versatile offensive game, but Conley is the V8 engine that makes it go. They’ll lean on his basketball savvy even more next season as they try to integrate a roster that is nearly unrecognizable from the Grit-N-Grind Grizzlies of years past.