Grizzlies Reloaded: A preview of 2016
The Memphis Grizzlies fell to the eventual World Champion in six games of the Western Conference semifinals last season. If you were to ask the Golden State Warriors, the Grizzlies gave them their toughest test in the playoffs. And if everyone was completely healthy, who knows. But the Grizzlies are past the moral victory stage. They want to be on top of the mountain. They had several questions heading into the off-season and several deficiencies to address. Through the draft, trades and free agency, the Grizzlies think they have reloaded and are ready to bare a better version in 2016.
The number one priority in the off-season was of course to re-sign Marc Gasol. Marc made it easy on them by not talking with any other teams. He was coming back to Memphis for a five year deal in the neighborhood of 110 million. So the Grizz have their core of Gasol, Randolph and Conley locked up for at least another year.
Heading into the off-season I think Grizzlies fans all felt the same way, we have to get a shooter, either through free agency or the draft. While re-signing Marc was of course number one on the to-do-list, there was never any real concern that he was leaving. Especially after San Antonio jumped all-in on the LaMarcus Aldridge sweepstakes. There were hopes that the Grizzlies could sign a decent mid-range shooter or pull off a trade for one. If neither of those options were panning out, at least draft someone that may help ease that pain.
So the Grizzlies instead draft a power forward. With the 25th pick in the draft they selected Jarell Martin from LSU. Martin is a talented low post scorer and a rim rocker. He will be a development project however. Some thought he wasn’t even the best forward on his LSU team. Plus, you drafted a very similar player last year in Jarnell Stokes. Moments before the Grizzlies pick was announced, I just knew that R.J. Hunter was the name that was going to be called. You can imagine my surprise and disappointment. I felt like Hunter could have played decent minutes off the bench next year and provide instant scoring. You have to guard him as soon as he gets up out of his seat. With him and Courtney Lee playing backup minutes at the same time, the Grizzlies would have been a dangerous perimeter team when the second unit was on the floor.
The Grizzlies did manage to pickup another rookie in a trade deal with Phoenix. They added Andrew Harrison from Kentucky. I really liked that move because Harrison is a winner and scorer. A steal-of-the-draft type of potential. Harrison, however, is off to a rocky start, he didn’t look very good in the Orlando Summer League. The showstopper for the Orlando Summer League champion Memphis Grizzlies was Russ Smith, who hit two walk-off shots in a few days time. So maybe the Grizzlies had that scorer on their team all along.
Memphis also got through the bulk of the summer without losing any key pieces other than Kosta Koufus, who singed with Sacramento. The Grizzlies countered by acquiring Brandan Wright, a free-agent center who played for Dallas, Boston and Phoenix last season. He now makes his way back home to Tennessee. Wright grew up in the Nashville area. Koufus played a huge role off the bench last season for the Grizzlies and it was widely thought he would be leaving after this season. I like Brandan Wright a lot and think he will have no issue filling the shoes of Koufus, maybe even more.
The biggest move the Grizzlies made this off-season was clearly trading for Luke Ridnour. Wait…I’m not done. That trade ultimately allowed them to move the financials around so they could acquire their most coveted new piece, Matt Barnes. Barnes comes to Memphis after playing the last three seasons with one of Memphis’ most hated rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Barnes fits the Grizzlies Grit-n-Grind mode perfectly. He is a hard-nosed defender that loves to get in opposing players faces and take them out of their game. So now the Grizzlies have two of the best in the league at that, Tony Allen (First Team All-Defense), and Matt Barnes. But Barnes also provides more scoring capability than Allen. Barnes can run the floor, finish on the break and knock down open three’s. It was definitely a brilliant move by Chris Wallace, the Grizzlies GM, to add Barnes. But does it put them over the hump to seriously compete for the title next season?
I would have still liked to see the Grizzlies end the Jeff Green experiment and move his ten million dollar contract. The problem is Jeff’s stock took a big hit last season after Boston felt they could live without him, and they did, even making the playoffs. Then once in Memphis he severely underachieved. I would have liked to see the Grizzlies free up his minutes and give them to a legitimate shooter. But it doesn’t look like that will happen this year.
We just saw the Golden State Warriors win the NBA Championship with three-point shooting. They came at you from all directions with guys that could shoot the ball. It was impossible to contain them all. It frustrated even the best defenses in the NBA like the Grizzlies. While I’m not saying the Grizzlies need an overhaul of the roster, they do need shooting. They have arguably the best front court in the NBA with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, with only Duncan/Aldridge and Jordan/Griffin coming close. The bottom line is you must have balance if you expect to win a title. You never want to be close to the bottom in any category. Last season the Grizzlies were 29th in three-point makes per game. They hit right at five per game where as the World Champion Warriors were hitting right at twelve per game.
Three-point shooting is not the ultimate deciding factor to a team’s success, but for a team like the Grizzlies who want to dominate the low post, having an outside game will only help open up the paint for Big Spain and Z-Bo. Maybe the addition of Barnes will help with that, but the Grizzlies will still enter another season without a legitimate outside scoring threat in the starting lineup. Here is what I am projecting the starting lineup and second unit to look like next season.
|PG-Mike Conley||PG-Beno Udrih|
|SG-Tony Allen||SG-Courtney Lee|
|SF-Matt Barnes||SF-Jeff Green|
|PF-Zach Randolph||PF-Jarnell Stokes|
|C-Marc Gasol||C-Brandan Wright|
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So looking at this breakdown, the only real changes made to Grizzlies squad in the off-season so far was acquiring Matt Barnes and Brandan Wright. Jeff Green could start at the three and Barnes comes in off the bench. Either way, I do like the second unit of the Grizzlies as well. Nowhere near the depth that Golden State had last year however. And don’t get me wrong, I really like the acquisition of Matt Barnes, but is that enough to beat Golden State, San Antonio, Los Angeles and Oklahoma City next year? I just don’t think so. The other pieces the Grizzlies added are projects that won’t see much playing time. I like what Russ Smith did at Louisville and over the last week in Summer League play, but the fact is he is an undersized shooting guard. You have last years first round pick Jordan Adams who has potential along with Jarell Martin and Andrew Harrison. At this moment there is no guarantee that Harrison even makes the final roster. So very questionable talent sitting at the end of the Grizzlies bench.
Barring any late summer trades, this is your Memphis Grizzlies roster for the 2015-2016 season. The Grizzlies did reload with the addition of Matt Barnes and bringing back Marc Gasol. But do they have a big enough clip to go toe-to-toe in a shootout with the best of the West? One thing is for certain, this team has heart. They are always playing the underdog role and keep surprising the league every time people are ready to write them off. Guys by into that and often excel byond expectations. I’m sure this year will be no different. Grindhouse get ready!
Grizzlies off-season grade-B (July 16th, 2015)
Do you think the Grizzlies did enough this off-season to remain a contender in the Western Conference? Let us know what you think about the Grizzlies off-season in the comment section below.
Brandon Reid covers the NBA and Memphis Grizzlies for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breidhttps://www.myfantasysportstalk.com/grizzlies-reloaded-a-preview-of-2016/AnalysisMemphis GrizzliesNBANews and UpdatesRecent Posts#Grizzlies,Andrew Harrison,Grindhouse,Jarell Martin,Marc Gasol,Matt Barnes,Memphis,Mike Conley,NBA,Zach RandolphThe Memphis Grizzlies fell to the eventual World Champion in six games of the Western Conference semifinals last season. If you were to ask the Golden State Warriors, the Grizzlies gave them their toughest test in the playoffs. And if everyone was completely healthy, who knows. But the Grizzlies...Brandon ReidBrandon Reidbrandon.email@example.comEditorBrandon Reid is a TV producer and broadcaster for a community channel based in Jonesboro Arkansas. He is from Memphis and graduated from Arkansas State University with a degree in broadcast journalism. He loves the Memphis Tigers, Grizzlies, Titans and Arkansas State Red Wolves. “I promise to bring information, insight and strong opinion...let the debate begin.” You can follow Brandon on Twitter @New_BreidMyFantasySportsTalk