Last year, a combination of injuries, Marc Gasol doing his Dwight Howard impression to get David Fizdale fired, and just plain not being good at basketball conspired to push the Memphis Grizzlies to a 22-60 record, second-worst in the entire NBA ahead of only the woeful Phoenix Suns.
This year, armed with fourth overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr., Mike Conley‘s horrifying contract, Gasol’s attitude, a coach in J.B. “Make Them” Bickerstaff who couldn’t generate team chemistry if you gave him a plastic volcano, some baking soda, and some vinegar…
Brace yourselves. Suckage is coming.
The Grizzlies overachieved several years ago under Lionel Hollins, and nobody in Memphis has told GM Chris Wallace that it’s not 2013 anymore. So a roster full of guys who used to have decent 2K ratings has been cobbled into a fragile, disunited mishmash, and now they need to try to work a top draft pick into it for the first time in years.
Will they get at least a little better? Or are they the odds-on favorite to get screwed by the draft lottery again when they’re second up from the bottom compared to the wretched Knicks?
2017-18 record: 22-60
2018-19 over/under: 34.5
Memphis is supposed to improve by 13 wins? In what Western Conference universe?
LeBron’s in LA. The Mavs have Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan (and the same sort of improvement expectation; more on this tomorrow.) Houston and San Antonio are still Houston and San Antonio. Anthony Davis was better without DeMarcus Cousins, and New Orleans might win 50 if that holds true for a full year (more on THEM Monday.) The Northwest Division had five of the top nine squads last year, and the Warriors are the Warriors.
Memphis is going to get slapped stupid, and it’s not like they’re going 30-0 against the East.
I mean, we could probably just call it here, couldn’t we? But let’s give a fair hearing before making a judgment predetermined no matter what new evidence comes to light.
About That Whole Mike Conley Thing
Conley was atrocious in 12 games before he got hurt.
Granted, a small sample size at the beginning of a season does not a representative sample make (and the Grizz were 7-5) but 38.1 FG and 31.2 3PT%?
And it’s not like Conley’s 3-point attempt rate went up by any appreciable rate. He took 14 shots and six threes a game in the 12 games he played after 14.6 and 6.4 in 2016-17 (when he shot over 40 percent from the arc.)
And he’s supposed to come back from injury and regain that 2017 form? I don’t think so.
Is Jackson Good?
Well, he’ll be a rookie, that’s one strike against him right there, and he wasn’t exactly a workhorse at Michigan State.
Whenever you see a guy who was a relatively undistinguished one-and-done in terms of playing time, it’s hard not to think that you’re looking at Marvin Williams in any given year.
Marvin Williams had a solid NBA career. But he wasn’t Chris Paul, you dig?
Jackson will have growing pains, and since the Grizz will be terrible, he’ll get plenty of run, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that he’s a guy who won’t break out until Year 3.
In that case, the Grizz are screwed.
Contract Hell Personified
Chandler Parsons, corpse, is making $24 million. He played in 36 games last year, he has never gotten through a full season with his health intact, and while he’s still a fine shooter (42.1 percent from three in 2017-18), that doesn’t help when he’s getting paid star money to play bench minutes.
Meanwhile, Gasol is 33 and forgot how to shoot last year (42 percent shooting, by far the worst of his career) and also makes $24 million.
But…Grit and Grind, Right?
The Grizz were 26th in Defensive Rating in the league last year. They still can’t score (27th on offense) and now they can’t guard anyone.
And it’s not like Jackson is Draymond Green.
The Grizz are basically the anti-Nets in a lot of ways. While Brooklyn has fully embraced the “fail faster” design ethos to make it fun to watch when they’re losing 120-95, Memphis belongs to a philosophical tradition where every game ends 78-75 like it’s 2002 and life is meaningless.
So not only are they a bad team, they are a depressing team. They’re worth watching on League Pass only if you’re a fan of their opponent or if you hate yourself.
The Grizzlies suck, and they suck in a depressing way, not even an entertaining way. I would be perfectly OK with pretending the NBA only has 29 teams this year. I live in Seattle and I don’t want the Grizzlies to move into the new arena the City Council just approved funding for.
And as for 35 wins, yeah, right. Not happening. Not even close. Under. Busted. Do not Confirm.