Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview

27 10 2008

My NBA South West Division preview concludes with the Memphis Grizzlies:

Memphis Grizzlies

2007-08 Standings 22 – 60, 14th Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 23 – 59, 5th South West Division, 14th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Marc Gasol, Hakim Warrick, Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo, Mike Conley

Sixth Man:  Darko Milicic

Hope those shoulders are broad enough to carry the hopes of all the fans in Grizzlies land.

Hope those shoulders are broad enough to carry the hopes of all the fans in Grizzlies land.

The South West Division has four teams with their eyes on the NBA championship. The Mempis Grizzlies are not one of them. However they did contribute mightily to one of the NBA finalists last year. Yep, without the midseason trade of Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies to the LA Lakers it is doubtful the Lakers would have made the Finals against the Boston Celtics. Pity then that Gasol was traded away for nothing, er I mean Javaris Crittenton, Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie, two draft picks and the rights to the other Gasol, Marc.

Brown and McKie are no longer with the team and Crittenton projects as the third (!) best point guard on the Grizzlies roster. The only positive aspect of the trade is Marc Gasol. Doubts remain whether Gasol will live up to his brother’s contribution, sure he played well in the Olympics but to me he seemed slow and ponderous. At least he’ll get lots of playing time, his backup is the poster child for underachievement and thwarted hopes, Darko Milicic. Milicic, for those few of you who don’t know, was selected second by the Detroit Pistons in 2003 ahead of Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. The other three are all All Stars, Milicic, not so much.

The Grizzlies do have a lot of young talent. Rudy Gay is probably the pick of the bunch. He is a rising star and there is an outside shot he could make the All Star game this year. He already averages over 20 ppg and should develop into the go to scorer for the Grizzlies in the coming seasons.

Gay will eventually be challenged as the star of the team by OJ Mayo. At least that’s the plan. Mayo was acquired in a draft day trade for Kevin Love and Mike Miller. Mayo has the potential to be an explosive scorer and he’ll get plenty of minutes and opportunity to prove himself on what projects to be a woeful roster. The loss of Miller will probably hurt the Grizzlies. He provided them with a reliable outside shooter and veteran leadership.

The point guard spot is taken by Mike Conley and the second year man will be looking to make the spot his. I feel he probably needs a better veteran backup than Kyle Lowry, Crittenton and/or Marko Jaric.

Coach:

Marc Iavaroni is the second year coach here. Unfortunately after the Grizzlies suffer a few multiple game losing streaks I’ll think he’ll be looking for a new job.

Bench:

When Darko Milicic projects as your sixth man you know your roster lacks depth. Veteran gunner Antoine Walker is here but its doubtful how much leadership he will provide the youngsters.

Star Player:

Rudy Gay is the Grizzlies star though OJ Mayo has the potential to usurp him eventually. At least the two of them will get plenty of shots to prove who is the alpha male here.

Team MVP 

Can Marc Gasol replicate what his brother produced in Memphis? If he can then the Grizzlies will win a few more games than most people expect but even with Pau around the Grizzlies were woeful.

Final Prognosis:

The Grizzlies best case scenario would be for the kiddies to develop some this season and they don’t win enough games to spoil their lottery chances. It’s going to be a looooong season in Memphis.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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One response

28 10 2008
OJ Mayo

So psyched to finally get this season started. I think it will be a tough year but OJ will start to shine and eventually take over this league.

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