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NBA 2015-16 Team Previews: Memphis Grizzlies – The Constant Grind

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Memphis Grizzlies

Our NBA 2015-16 Team Previews continues with Houston Rockets and their Southwest Division opponents. Next up the Memphis Grizzlies:

Record:  (55-27) 5th in the Western Conference, 2nd in Southwest Division, Lost in second round of playoffs to Golden State Warriors

Rank: Offense: 103.1 (13)   Defense: 99.9 (4) Differential/Net: plus +3.1 (11) Pace: 94.2 (26)

2014-15

Key Stats:

  • Memphis scored the second fewest 3-point field goals on average per game (5.2)
  • Like Utah the Grizzlies are one of the slower paced teams (26th) which seems to be a trend of the better defensive teams unless you are one of the 2 anomaly’s: Golden State and Houston
  • Tied for 24th fewest offensive rebounds which is odd given they don’t park themselves outside the perimeter
  • Only 17.4% of Memphis offense is comprised of 3-point shooting (5.2 makes per game)
  • In the past 5 seasons the Grizzlies have the 5th best winning percentage (62.9%)

Off Season Moves

Key Areas Needing Addressing:

  • Increased Pace
  • 3-Point Shooting
  • Better Balance of Offense and Defense
  • Bench Depth

Draft:  Jarell Martin selected 25th in first round

Player Additions/Players Re-Signed:

Players Exiting:

2015-16

Core Players:

Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Courtney Lee, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol

Key Reserves:

Brandan Wright, Jeff Green, Matt Barnes

Outlook

Rising Star: Brandan Wright is somewhat perplexing as he was so pivotal to Dallas’ early success last season and somewhat helpful in Phoenix, so it’s hard to determine if he’s just highly coveted (hence getting traded twice last season) or if there is something we’re unaware of from a personality standpoint. It feels like the Grizzlies will be a good fit and he’ll excel in their style of play.

On The Bubble: Several players are in contract years with Courtney Lee and Mike Conley likely the only truly safe players on the list. Jeff Green who continues to be earmarked as a “sometimes” player no matter where he plays needs to find some consistency to warrant a long term deal this summer. Considering Mike Conley he earns slightly less than $300k more than Green is absurd!

X-Factor:   Love him if he’s on your team, hate him if he’s your opponent, but the tough nosed Matt Barnes could make for a scary combo especially if he gets paired with the Grindfather (Tony Allen) for any length of time on the floor. It’s a not too well hidden secret I’m no fan of the emoji’s er Clippers, so I’m looking forward to the first meeting (November 9th) between Memphis and Los Angeles to see how Barnes plays against his former team!

Best Case:  Can you imagine how much more effective the Grizzlies would be if they added a couple of 3-point specialists to their team? Gasol and Randolph are two of the best (if not best) passing bigs in the NBA. So, let’s say they instigate a trade sending one of their many shooting guards or wings out (Vince Carter, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Matt Barnes and Tony Allen) in return for a 3-point sniper.

Next to the Spurs the Grizzlies have one of the strongest identities and a solid Big 3 core that rivals the best big 3’s albeit not quite as flashy as some. The Grizzlies Big 3’s chemistry and continuity of style finds them constantly returning to the playoffs, but to get past one of the other Western power houses they’ll need to add a 3 point sniper (or two).

Let’s say they accomplish that task and let’s say they do it early in the season. It could prove to move them up the ladder into a home court advantage situation where they’ll have an opportunity to return to the Western Conference Finals.

Worst Case:  As has been the case the past few seasons the style of the Grind House wears on the body especially older bodies which is why ZBo and Conley have found themselves repeatedly on the injured list. If either or both go down for a substantial amount of time it’s doubtful they fall out of the playoffs but a low seed is just as deadly for the Grizzlies who’ve had trouble with the high octane versatile teams like Golden State, San Antonio and Houston. The good news is Brandan Wright should allow Randolph some much needed rest and hopefully the team can find some rest for Conley, but there’s little confidence Beno Udrih is the answer.

Prediction: Pretty obvious the main goal of the Grizzlies this off season was to re-sign their franchise star Marc Gasol which they successfully accomplished. Memphis also retained Jeff Green and added depth to the front court in a bit of coup by picking up Brandan Wright to replace the exiting Kosta Koufos.

Of the power teams in the West the Grizzlies are the lone squad who continue to use their front court as the core of their offense. Granted they’ve got arguably the best front court in the NBA especially when you factor in the tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol who function like no other comparable duo at their positions.

Moving forward Memphis is keen to add scoring and three point specialists which they somewhat accomplished via a trade to secure Matt Barnes who also fits their defense first mentality. The Grizz are way too heavy in the shooting guard and small forward positions and lacking depth and quality at the point guard and center reserve positions. Still, Memphis will grind away and end up 5th or 6th and if they get lucky enough to face the Clippers (or a team suffering late season injuries) they could get to the second round.

Games versus the Houston Rockets

  • November 20th: At Fed Ex Forum in Memphis
  • November 25th: At Toyota Center in Houston
  • January 12th: At Fed Ex Forum in Memphis
  • March 14th: At Toyota Center in Houston

Fansided Affiliate Site:   Beale Street Bears

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

Next: Pelicans Preview

Next: SCS Complete Round Table Sessions

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