It’s hard to draw an accurate bead on the Memphis Grizzlies as they proceed to try and move past the Grit N’ Grind Era and into a newer, more modern approach to the game.
On the one hand, they have a good combination of promising youth and savvy veterans that you need for a team on the rise.
On the other hand, they have an absolutely awful coach in J.B. Bickerstaff, a complete moron of a GM in Chris Wallace, and an approach to analytics powered by John Hollinger, a guy whose statistical analyses have been passed by thanks to others who have built on his work.
So great labor, terrible management…almost ironic when you consider that the last time this team was good, it was running a Dark Ages scheme under disgraced half of a syndrome for such things, Lionel Hollins.
Vegas sure isn’t convinced. They have Memphis down for 25.5 wins, third-worst in the entire league and dead last in the Western Conference (the two teams below them are Cleveland and Charlotte.)
C’mon, they can’t be THAT bad…can they?
2018-19 record: 33-49
2019-20 over/under: 25.5
The Savvy Veterans
Iggy’s a long way removed from 2015 Finals MVP and an even longer way removed from being an impact player as he turns 36 in January.
Valanciunas was good in Toronto and is a more than capable center, but he ain’t exactly Rudy Gobert.
Hill…mention not his name in my Pacers-fan presence, please.
Miles isn’t the good Plumlee. The good Plumlee—Mason Plumlee—plays in Denver.
And Anderson’s best shot is the long two (an unsustainable 50.0 FG% from 16 feet out to the arc last year) but he can’t shoot the three for beans (26.5 percent.)
Anderson dropped from 3.0 VORP his last year in San Antonio to 1.0 in Memphis.
Iguodala posted a .126 WS/48 on a team that won 57 games, where the average player should post .139, and he didn’t even crack .100 in 2017-18. He doesn’t score even 10 points per 36 minutes anymore, and at age 36 he’s probably washed.
Hill, for his career, has shot 39.5 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from long range in 305 games.
And Plumlee couldn’t stay on the floor on a 29-win Atlanta team, with injuries and DNP-CDs leading him to play in just 18 games and post half a Win Share.
Valanciunas is pretty good, though. But if the best player on your team is Jonas Valanciunas, you’re not winning squat.
Promising Young Players
At Murray State, Morant averaged 24.5 points and 10 assists per game, all while hitting 49.9 percent of his shots and 36.3 percent of his threes. Whether he can do that against better defenders than you typically find in the Ohio Valley Conference, that’s a different question entirely.
Jaren Jackson Jr. is a star in the making, posting .105 WS/48 and 0.8 VORP on a terrible team while establishing himself as an above average defender and showing range as a stretch 4 (35.9 percent from 3-point land.)
Both of those guys are just 20 years old.
Not-So-Promising Young Players
Josh Jackson, meanwhile, made a case for being the worst player in the NBA in Phoenix, and even being on the Suns can’t excuse the turd he pooped out onto the advanced stat rankings.
He had minus-.040 WS/48. Basically, a team of nothing but Josh Jacksons would be expected to lose 98 games in an 82-game season.
His work ethic, Epsilon Minus Semi-Moron basketball IQ, and general lack of anything approaching merit as a prospect explains why the Suns dumped his $7.06 million salary on a team with a dumb enough GM to take it. Take a bow, Chris Wallace, you got snookered by the worst franchise in the NBA other than your own and the Knicks.
Oh, and Memphis went out and got Grayson Allen because the birthplace of one of professional wrestling’s best old-school regional promotions (that both gave the world “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart and “The King” Jerry Lawler) needed another heel. Allen has no value as an actual NBA basketball player, but he’ll make a heck of a sideshow in the G-League.
OK, So Maybe It’s Not So Good On Paper
Man, looking at this roster again, you think you can talk yourself into it if you’re national media because you’ve heard these names before and some of them are pretty good, but…
In point of fact, there’s a good reason this team’s expected to be even worse than the Suns. With Mike Conley and Marc Gasol gone for good and a coach whose greatest accomplishment was making James Harden sulk for a whole year in Houston while the Rockets stunk out the joint with Dwight Howard at center…
…someone has to finish 22-60 in the West. And I think it’s this clown show. Busted. Under. Garbage fire.
NEXT: New Orleans Pelicans.