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Competition Discussion: Memphis Grizzlies

(Previously: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Golden State, Houston, Indiana, LA Clippers, LA Lakers).

The season is still not here, but most of the rosters are set, barring the requisite Michael Jordan comeback rumor (just kidding, but only a little).  We have an idea where our team stands, but we can't really know unless we discuss everyone else.  In that spirit, I'm going to throw up a "competition discussion" thread for each of the other 29 teams over the next couple months or so.  We'll go in alphabetical order from A to Z.  Today's team: Memphis.  Jump to the comments to discuss the Grizzlies and make a prediction on their record.


Last year's record: 24-58 (Pythagorean Record: 26-56)
Playoffs: None

Offensive Rating: 103.5 (28th)
Defensive Rating: 109.5 (21st)
Pace: 90.1 possessions/game (20th)

In: Zach Randolph, Allen Iverson, Hasheem Thabeet, Marcus Williams, Sam Young, DeMarre Carroll, Mike Taylor
Out: Hakim Warrick, Darko Milicic, Quinton Ross, Darius Miles, Greg Buckner

Projected starting lineup: Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol

Key themes:

  • Who will pass the ball?
  • Seriously, who will pass the ball?
  • I'll say it again.  Who.  Will.  Pass.  The.  Ball??
  • Are Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo real impact players, or are they just guys who put up numbers on a bad team?
  • What exactly will Allen Iverson do in this situation?  Will he evolve into an older Jason Terry, or will he completely tank and sabotage the team?
  • How much will Lionel Hollins use Marc Gasol's high-post passing skills?
  • How will Lionel Hollins preserve his sanity?
  • To what degree is Michael Heisley, the owner, calling the shots?  How much power, if any, does Chris Wallace have?

I'm sorry, but ... what a dreadful collection of talent.  A look at that starting lineup, and it doesn't look so bad on paper.  Mike Conley's starting to come into his own, O.J. Mayo knows how to play, Rudy Gay is explosive, Zach Randolph is a great rebounder and post scorer and Marc Gasol is underrated as hell.  Then, you bring Allen flippin Iverson off the bench, and Hasheem Thabeet has great defensive potential, etc. etc. 

Here's the problem: Conley can't shoot, Mayo can't get to the basket (it's pretty comical, actually, that nobody talks about this), Rudy Gay played selfishly last year even without Randolph and Iverson, Randolph can't pass or defend, and Gasol will be forgotten, while Iverson is too old and Thabeet is too young.  Now, you add an inexperienced coach in Lionel Hollins to the mix, and it's tough seeing this end remotely well.

It's a shame, because there's nothing particularly wrong with rebuilding cheaply, as owner Michael Heisley has tried to do.  Portland did it for a couple years and Oklahoma City is doing it now, and you'll hardly hear anyone bashing those organizations.  In Conley, Mayo, Gay, Gasol and Thabeet, the Grizzies have five pretty good prospects, though none is anywhere close to a franchise player.  However, if you're going to rebuild cheaply and through the draft, go all the way.  Don't bring in Randolph and Iverson.  Don't trade Pau Gasol's long-term deal, only to acquire Randolph's equally long-term deal a year and a half later. 

By the midway point in the season, I honestly expect every offensive possession to boil down into an isolation for either Gay, Mayo, Randolph or Iverson.  Conley and Gasol will be emergencies, and God bless Thabeet if he actually thinks he'll get any shots.  Because those guys (I mean Gay, Mayo, Randolph and Iverson) have some decent scoring ability, the Grizzlies won't totally suck, but they'll be painful to watch and nowhere near their potential, which is too bad, because there are some great Grizzlies bloggers out there who deserve better.  

Mike's prediction: 25-57, 5th in the Southwest, 13th in the West.

Team Mike Prada JakeTheSnake Truth About It Rook6980 bwoodsxyz
Atlanta 47-35 44-38 45-37 45-37 45-37
Boston 57-25 55-27 54-28 44-38 56-26
Charlotte 32-50 32-50 29-53 34-48 37-45
Chicago 39-43 40-42 42-40 40-42 44-38
Cleveland 63-19 60-22 64-18 64-18 61-21
Dallas 49-33 44-38 51-31 50-32 47-35
Denver 53-29 53-29 50-32 52-30 51-31
Detroit 38-44 42-40 41-41 38-44 35-47
Golden State 31-51 16-66 34-48 28-54 28-54
Houston 37-45 41-41 30-52 34-48 48-34
Indiana 33-49 28-54 35-47 39-43 36-46
LA Clippers 43-39 36-46 30-52 31-51
LA Lakers 62-20 59-23 63-19 60-22
Memphis 25-57