Welcome back to the Sport Script’s NBA preview for the upcoming 2013-14 season. Today we have two more teams to get through, but yesterday I covered the Wolves and Knicks so make sure you check them out. This team had it’s most successful season of all time last year, but got swept in the conference finals. They traded away their “star” if you could call him that, and actually became a better team. Let’s talk about the Memphis Grizzlies.
Key Additions: Mike Miller (Signed via Heat) Kosta Koufos (Signed via Nuggets) Jamaal Franklin (Draft)
Key Departures: Darrell Arthur (Nuggets) Austin Daye (Raptors) Keyon Dooling (Free Agent) coach Lionel Hollins (Fired)
Projected Starters: PG Mike Conley, SG Tony Allen, SF Tayshaun Prince, PF Zach Randolph, C Marc Gasol
Lots of positives happened in Memphis last season. They managed to find a team dumb enough to take on the rest of Rudy Gay’s awful contract. Marc Gasol developed into a frenachise center and one of the most fun players to watch in the league. They actually won two series, and made it to the Western Conference Finals, before they got demolished by the Spurs in four. But something about this team doesn’t exactly feel good. The West loaded up this offseason, Doc to the Clippers, Iguodala to the Warriors, Howard to the Rockets, and the Grizzlies didn’t do much at all. They fired the most successful coach in team history, Hollins, got some offence in Mike Miller, but that offense will only come in big playoff games, and he’ll be hurt for at least 40 games this year, and Kosta Koufos came in to be a backup center. They didn’t lose much, Darrell Arthur won’t be missed much with Koufos and Davis, Daye didn’t have a spot on the team, and that’s it.
The starting lineup is as good as ever, and like I said earlier, they’re better without Rudy Gay. Mike Conley is a top flight point guard, in a point guards league. The best part about Conley is that he’s a good defender, against the likes of Westbrook, Curry, Paul and Parker in the West. Of course is helps having “Trick or Treat” Tony Allen beside you at shooting guard. He’s Trick or Treat Allen because sometimes his lack of any offensive game can absolutely kill your team, if he decides to take stupid shots. Also something else to worry about is how quickly good perimeter defenders without much offense can fall off the face of the earth. The Grizzlies took a calculated risk resigning him this offseason, instead of finding a more offensively inclined play to lift this team when they need it. Tayshaun Prince brings some good three point shooting, and more perimeter offense, but he’s also getting up there in age, and you wonder if he can play a full season. Zach Randolph is still a top notch power forward in the NBA, but he was exposed against the Spurs, and the Grizzlies really struggled. The size is a problem, because if Z-Bo can’t bully someone around in the paint, he will get frustrated and make some dumb plays. Marc Gasol is widely considered a top three center in the NBA, and I could not agree more. Guy does everything very well. Great mid range shooter, developed a very nice soft, low post touch, good defender, and probably the reason him and Z-Bo work best, his amazing passing. While it doesn’t seem like much of an accolade, he’s the best passing big man in basketball, and makes so many good things happen on the floor from both high and low post for his teammates, and the thing the Grizzlies need most to win games, being as limited as they are, is getting easy baskets. Baby Gasol gets those in spades.
The Grizzlies are as good as they were last year, and that’s the problem with them. The West got so much better this offseason, and is even deeper with guys like Love and Rubio nipping at the heels of former playoff teams. While the Grizzlies are in no danger to miss the playoffs, they won’t get as high of a seed this year with the West so loaded top to bottom, especially those top 4-5 teams. The Grizzlies will be in tough this year just to win a playoff series, let alone get to the finals like they could’ve last year.
Final Prediction: 50-32, 6th Western Conference