For the second consecutive year, the Memphis Grizzlies finished seventh in the Western Conference, narrowly making the postseason. They’ve made the postseason for seven straight years now, but have never finished as a top three team in the Western Conference.
Their Playoff longevity is mainly credited to two key players, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Both players averaged career-highs in points last season, with both around 20 a game. However, during the 2017-18 season, Conley will turn 30 years old, and Gasol will turn 33; they won’t be around forever. With an already mediocre roster that shouldn’t be much of a threat, the Grizzlies should be looking towards their future, and they have plenty of work to do.
With an already mediocre roster that shouldn’t be much of a threat, the Grizzlies should be looking towards the future, and they have plenty of work to do.
Looking back at last season, Memphis was incredibly mediocre. According to ESPN’s Hollinger stats, they ranked in the bottom-five in the NBA in effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, and pace. Essentially, this boils down to say the Grizzlies were a poor offensive team that played relatively slow.
However, they played above-average defense, which is where most of their success has generated from. This isn’t much of a surprise, Memphis is notorious for playing this style of basketball as well as not adapting to the league’s profound trends.
Surprisingly, the Grizzlies have a relatively young roster. The average age is roughly 25 years old, which is slightly below league average.
Memphis has added some youth during the last two seasons, including guards, Wade Baldwin, Wayne Selden Jr. and Ben McLemore, along with rookie forwards, Dillon Brooks and Ivan Rabb. Unfortunately, these players don’t seem to be transcending stars moving forward. Although all five have plenty of room for growth, should Memphis actually trust the franchise’s future in their hands?
McLemore will be entering his fifth season by searching for steadiness within his game. There’s a reason he was a lottery draft pick though. The 24-year-old has shown ability as a shooter and spurts of athleticism. In the previous season with the Sacramento Kings, over 40% of his shots were generated behind the arc which he knocked down 38.5% of the time. He should be a solid addition to the Grizzlies team following his return from injury.
Selected 17th overall back in the 2016 NBA Draft, Baldwin appeared in just 33 games the prior season. He would go onto total a mere 405 minutes. There is optimism that the 21-year-old could become the starting point guard for Memphis following Conley’s departure, but only time will tell.
The rookies should add much-needed versatility to this roster as well. Former Oregon Duck, Dillon Brooks provides good shooting and an all-around balanced offensive arsenal.
Ivan Rabb, the former California standout, brings along a 6’10” frame with agility and hope as a good rebounder over time. Neither of these prospects are considered to be particularly strong on defense, but it should be masked by Memphis’s overall defensive attacks.
The good news, for now, is that both Conley and Gasol are under contract for the next couple years. The bad news is that these two contracts, along with the abysmal Chandler Parsons deal, has put the Grizzlies in a troublesome predicament regarding their cap space. Memphis is already a weak free agent destination and a lack of financial flexibility won’t help lure in superstars.
To truly be headed back on the uprise, the Memphis Grizzlies must face the music and trade franchise cornerstone, Marc Gasol. It’s no secret that the Boston Celtics, among others, have expressed interest in Marc Gasol. Boston has a plethora of assets to complete a deal and after what they were willing to give up in the Kyrie Irving deal, Memphis could bring in a nice haul for their big man.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) September 6, 2017
Memphis will likely have another season mediocre season, ultimately finishing around the eighth seed in the Western Conference. With a slim-to-none chance at beating any of the elites franchises within their conference, a playoff appearance is relatively meaningless. It’s not easy for front offices to admit to a rebuild, but a
It’s no easy task for a front office to admit to a rebuild, but if the Grizzlies want to avoid a long stretch of irrelevancy and mediocrity, it is essential.