Last season was a pretty disastrous one for the Memphis Grizzlies from the start. Mike Conley went down with an injury early in the season and everything came off the rails. Marc Gasol feuded with the coach David Fizdale which ended up with the latter being fired. Then Gasol had some injuries of his own, Chandler Parsons stayed injured and this was one of the worst teams in the league at 22-60. If everyone is healthy, it shouldn’t be that bad again.
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The injuries might have worked out in their benefit though. Going into last season their team was Conley, Gasol and hope for the best. Now? They have one of the top talents from last year’s draft in Jaren Jackson Jr, the fourth overall pick. He’s a pretty raw talent so I think the staff will bring him along slowly, but at 6’11” with range from three and shot blocking skills he should fine his way into the rotation.
I like the way second round pick Jevon Carter fits here. He’s a four-year college player who could slot in as the new Tony Allen here.
Which should fit as this year’s team is more of a return to the grit-and-grind style that made this team shine earlier in the decade. Kyle Anderson comes from the Spurs and will definitely fit that mold. He should team with JaMychal Green at the forward spots. Those are decent pieces, but the scoring leaves a lot to be desired.
That is one of the big questions about this team, where will the scoring come from? The three point shooting is a big question mark. You have Conley, Gasol and then? Parsons if healthy can help fill that role, but he hasn’t been healthy in years. Marshon Brooks scored 20.1 PPG last season, but that was on one of the worst teams in the game. If he can put up big numbers off the bench, that could really benefit this team.
On paper, hiring last year’s interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff is kind of an uninspired choice, but he did a lot to develop players in light of last year’s disaster and I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt here. A lot of teams are going away from defense first right now which could benefit this team who aren’t ready to play their style.
When I look at making this bet, I think this a bet on whether or not everyone stays healthy. Especially Mike Conley. He is one of the most valuable players to his team in this league and if he plays 70+ games I think this is an easy over. That’s a big if, but a risk I am willing to take. If he’s healthy, this could be the 8th seed.
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