Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview & Predictions

We would be shocked to see Randolph put up the same type of numbers this season
In 2009-2010, the Memphis Grizzlies (40-42) ended the season fourth in the Southwest Division and ninth in the Western Conference. For most teams a sub-500 season would be considered a failure, but the Grizzlies considered it a success. This season should be worse for what is one of the worst managed franchises in the NBA.

Center Marc Gasol (.581 FG%, .000 3PT%, .670 FT%, 9.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 14.6 PPG) starts his third NBA season. Gasol has a fine inside game that includes an accurate shot and some topnotch offensive rebounding. He’s also an accomplished defender who can block shots and steal the ball. Backup center Hasheem Thabeet (.588 FG%, .000 3PT%, .581 FT%, 3.6 RPG, 0.2 APG, 3.1 PPG), who is now in his second NBA season, showed a decent inside game but did poorly shooting from the outside.

Power forward Zach Randolph (.488 FG%, .288 3PT%, .778 FT%, 11.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 20.8 PPG) is a sound rebounder, especially on the all-important offensive boards. He’s got a good inside game and a fine shot from the charity stripe. There are also some decent defensive skills in the nine-year NBA vet.

Small forward Rudy Gay (.466 FG%, .327 3PT%, .753 FT%, 5.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 19.6 PPG) is a good player on offense and a decent defender. But he’s nothing to write home about. The small forward spot, although four-deep, lacks true quality depth.

Shooting guard O.J. Mayo (.458 FG%, .383 3PT%, .809 FT%, 3.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 17.5 PPG) is yet another young talent that the Grizzlies can develop. Mayo is an excellent shooter, average defender and fine ball handler who will continue to get better with experience. There’s very good news when it comes to his backup—Tony Allen (.510 FG%, .000 3PT%, .605 FT%, 2.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 6.1 PPG). Allen can give quality minutes, bringing some fine scoring chops to the floor.

Point guard Mike Conley (.445 FG%, .387 3PT%, .743 FT%, 2.4 RPG, 5.3 APG, 12.0 PPG) may not have the speed he needs to excel at his spot, but he does have an accurate three-point shot. Conley is starting his fourth year, which could be a breakthrough one for him. But for him to be a premium contributor, he’s going to have to show a lot of improvement rather quickly.

This season compare odds from multiple sportsbooks on our NBA odds page.

With an Offensive Efficiency of 104.8 (17th) and a Defensive Efficiency of 107.6 (24th), it was difficult for Memphis to sport a winning record last year. However, they did come close. One reason was power forward Randolph who had the highest PER on the team (21.21). Also, the Grizzlies were 8th in Pace Factor, coming in at 96.1.

Although the team’s Pace Factor indicates that they managed to get the ball in play and up the court relatively quickly, their low percentage of assisted field goals indicates that their was very little ball movement once they got into the offensive zone. Memphis had the lowest percent of assisted field goals in the league (47.9). What also hurt them was the fact that they were 22ndin “first shot” offensive efficiency. The one area that they were tops was in offensive rebound rate, where they led the league with a rate of 31.3%.  The frontcourt is a big positive for this team but the point is a real weakness.

Coach Lionel Hollins (71-114) has yet to have a winning NBA season. He’s coached the Grizzlies a total of one and three partial seasons. He was first with the team as head coach for about one season in 1999 and then for four games in 2005. He became head coach again in 2008-2009 and covered 39 games. Last season was his first full season as a NBA and the Grizzlies’ main man.

It’s funny but a team like the Grizzlies always has some young, talented players that make people feel optimistic. It’s sort of a form of misdirection in terms of how people should be thinking. The positives, because there are so few, always seem magnified in these types of clubs. They afford fans false hopes for the future. The truth of the matter is that Memphis will finish well below 500, end up fifth in the Southwest Division and 11th in the Western Conference.

Dont miss any of the NBA spread picks we release this season.  We have had numerous #1 ranked handicapped seasons and will put up winning numbers once again.

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  1. Maddux:

    I think Anthony meant “recently.” I admit I’m a shameless fan, but these guys look to be pretty good this year. . . they’re going to shock a lot of people.

  2. Lee if you shock a lot of people I will be included and will be happy to eat crow. The team doesn’t share the basketball, doesn’t have a capable point guard, the bench is thin, they dont play defense, and ownership is among the worst in the league. Look no further then selling your draft pick to dallas for cash or the signing of the cancer Allen Iverson to put butts in the seat.

    Besides all that based on the points scored and points allowed the Grizz won 4 more games than the likely should have. Teams that are negative like that normally dont have that same luck the next year. It is kind of like NFL teams that have positive turnover margin one year, the ball doesn’t bounce their way as much the next season.

    I dont see how they finish ahead of 8 other teams in the West this year.

  3. Maddux, do your homework before making absurd statements. First off, I agree that this is a terribly run organization…. That being said, everything else is off:

    Mike Conley is one of the fastest guards in the league. He went up against CP3 twice in the preseason and gave him problems both games with his speed.

    The SF is not 4 deep….. Xavier plays SG, Sam Young is a SF. Damien Wilkins is not going to be with the team. Demarre Carroll is in the doghouse for sucking.

    Lionel Hollins has not won because he has been nothing but an interim until midway through the 09 season when he inherited a poorly conditioned, poorly coached (Ivaroni), and a non-disciplined team and had to have “training camp” in January. Last season, he had 5 YOUNG players and no bench….. And still managed to get 40 wins.

    This is truly a year to feel optomistic because there is stability in the coaching staff, chemistry in the team, and everyone has worked hard this summer.

    By the way, the “thin bench” is averaging 47.6 points per game….. and carrying the team to a 7-0 record. The starters haven’t done much of anything. Get the facts straight.

    you have not even taken into account that this team gave up no assets, strengthened the bench (Tony Allen, Xavier Henry), have a healthy Darrel Arthur, who has shown to be a good spot up shooter and rebounder – when healthy. Sam Young is going to be a much better scorer (better than 20% 3pt – which he said he was embarrassed by). No

  4. Yes 7-0 in the preseason means a lot. By that same thinking the Lakers and Heat are only going to win 40% of their games. Simple question, how many wins is this team going to get?

  5. If you want to look at it as a fan, fine. But you’ve got to look at the league and the lack of parity. Plus, you have to consider the very tough 82-game schedule. I was taking to someone the other day and they asked me where I say the Celtics finishing and I said “second or may be even third” and they started yelling at me. I said, “Look at the age of those guys. They can fall apart anytime.”

    For me, the preseason is not a big deal. It’s like any preseason. If preseasons meant anything, the 49ers would be on top. But the preseason of any sport is short and it’s about experimenting, tuning up and finding where people fit.

    I agree, you might debate an individual player’s worth, etc. Plus an inferior team may make it to the playoffs (usually one to three NBA teams that are in the postseason have even or losing records) but they rarely get passed round two.

  6. Commentary on pre-season:

    “How important is the preseason? Sure, it’s good for new teammates to develop chemistry, rookies to get used to the speed of the game, and vets to get back in shape. But the results don’t mean anything. Right?

    Not quite. There’s actually a correlation between how a team does in the preseason and how it does in the regular season, at least in the last five seasons (2004-05 through 2008-09).

    Over that time, 56 of the 86 teams (65.1 percent) who finished with a .500 record or better in the preseason made the playoffs. And just 24 of the 64 teams (37.5 percent) who finished with a record under .500 in the preseason made it to the postseason.”

    What does the pre-season actually mean? Nothing. What does it suggest? A lot. Especially if you know this team. Alex pretty much nailed all of the points I would have made. The 7-0 final was just gravy; the key things are found in the work that has been done on critical weak areas of this squad from last year, the bench being one and defense being the other. Grizzlies were actually one of the better defensive teams of the pre-season. 3PT% is still bad and we are dead last in APG at only 17, but still hanging in at 7th in scoring.

    If The Grizzlies had averaged 1.2 more assists per game last year, that would have tied us with the Thunder. Do you think that we could have somehow made up the difference in 10 games with those extra 1.2 assists? A more meaningful statistic was our horrendous record on the tail end of back to backs – a sign of fatigue. With quality backups at the 2 and 4 (and it’s looking like the 1 also – Acie Law 4.0 APG, 8.9 per 48, leading the team), fresh legs from OJ and Zach down the stretch alone will cause the “ball to bounce our way” more often down the stretch.

    I’m a fan so I’m biased, but I’ve yet to have any “expert” explain to me how this 24 win team won 40 games last year and faltered down the stretch primarily because of fatigue and injury. If it was “luck,” then I say the harder you work and the better you prepare, the luckier you get. Here’s to 51 wins worth of luck this year!

    I see the 1-7 Hornets, the 2-5 Suns and the Nuggets minus Carmello as teams that the Grizzlies will beat, BTW.

  7. Excellent post Errol, I feel bad though because Memphis is likely going to fall into that 35% subset of teams that have winning preseason records but dont make the playoffs. Honestly you could still finish ahead of those and not make the playoffs. I guess we just have to wait and see how it plays out, I am wrong plenty of the time, fairly confident this isn’t one of those times though.

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