We kick off our Southwest preview with an in-depth discussion about the Memphis Grizzlies. Preston Ellis hosted Mark King, video content producer for SB Nation as well as Grizzly Bear Blues.
With Zach Randolph and Tony Allen moving on, the Grit and Grind era is finished. Randolph left for the Sacramento Kings because they were willing to pay him a greater sum of money than the Grizzlies. As for Allen, Memphis was ready to part ways as evidenced by the Tyreke Evans and Ben McLemore signings.
According to Mark, Pelicans fans shouldn’t be concerned about the Grizzlies decision because Allen is still a good player who excels in his one specialty — defense. The caveat is Allen’s health and unfortunately we should expect him to miss games based on his history. Fans have to hope he doesn’t miss games at the most inopportune times.
Sure it hasn’t worked out yet, but remember that Chandler Parsons was best available small forward at time of his signing. With the Grizzlies a perennial playoff participant, the best way for Memphis to add talent was through free agency. From all accounts, he’s supposedly healthy entering this season and should be a 13-point scorer who can stretch the floor around Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.
JaMychal Green is betting on himself and Mark doesn’t expect his contract situation to resolve itself until sometime during training camp. The Grizzlies definitely want to bring him back, but don’t be surprised if he follows in the footsteps of Nerlens Noel and takes his qualifying offer.
Once Green re-signs, the Grizzlies will have numerous training camp battles, with likely 17 players competing. Mark believes Wayne Selden could be one of the guys to emerge thanks to a solid summer league showing and factoring McLemore’s injury. Players like Deyonta Davis and Dillion Brooks will likely see a lot of action in the G-League, but Wade Baldwin and Mario Chalmers could be on the outside looking in.
Head Coach David Fizdale is well liked and he earned a lot of fans with his famous ‘Take That for Data’ rant following a Game 2 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2017 playoffs. Fizdale is very active within the Memphis community, using his position to help fight racism. From a coaching perspective, he’s a really good coach who struggled with lineups — a common problem for most rookie head coaches.
As for what to expect on the court, don’t be surprised to see Conley take another step and improve the most from a scoring stand point this season. The Grizzlies need to replace Z-Bo and Vince Carter’s production, and it’s hard to fathom it coming from Gasol, a player who prefers to help dictate the offense more than seeking his own shot. One thing to watch though is Gasol’s perimeter shooting. Fizdale has coaxed the big man time and again to move behind the three-point line.
As far as opening night and their game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the matchup to watch will definitely be DeMarcus Cousins versus Gasol. In the past, Boogie disliked going up against the big man, but remember their last meeting: 41 points, 16 rebounds, five threes, two steals and two blocks.