Memphis Grizzlies: NBA season schedule, preview and roster

The Grit 'n Grind era is over for the Grizzlies, but despite losing key veterans, can this team still be a playoff contender next season?


Offseason Recap

 Arrivals: Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore, Dillon Brooks, Mario Chalmers, Ivan Rabb, Kobi Simmons, Rade Zagorac

Departures: Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Vince Carter, Troy Daniels

It was the end of an era in Memphis this offseason. The two players who most exemplified the team’s mantra of “Grit ‘n Grind,” Tony Allen and Zach Randolph, both left in free agency. The two had limitations to be sure, but they helped to give the Grizzlies an identity, which they used to great success over the last few years.

Vince Carter also departed in free agency, while Troy Daniels was later traded to the Phoenix Suns for salary cap relief. The Grizzlies replaced Carter, Allen, and Daniels with younger wings in Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore, and Dillon Brooks.

Evans was an important signing for the Grizzlies, who simply needed a) someone who could provide some scoring off the bench after Randolph’s departure, and b) someone other than Mike Conley who could capably facilitate the offense and create something off the dribble.

However, McLemore is set to miss the start of the season with a broken foot, while the status of the oft-injured Chandler Parsons remains a mystery.

On a brighter note, the Grizzlies were finally able to work out a deal for starting power forward JaMychal Green. Keeping Green is good news for a Memphis team that couldn’t really afford to lose another key piece of their frontcourt.

Projected Depth Chart

C – Marc Gasol / Deyonta Davis

PF – JaMychal Green/ Brandan Wright / Jarell Martin

SF – Chandler Parsons / James Ennis / Dillon Brooks / Rade Zagorac

SG – Wayne Selden / Tyreke Evans / Ben McLemore

PG – Mike Conley / Andrew Harrison/ Wade Baldwin IV / Mario Chalmers

Strengths

The Grizzlies have leaned on their defense for the longest time. They did so last season, as they finished well inside the top 10 in defensive efficiency, and they figure to do so again.

The team’s two best players, Gasol and Conley, set the tone for the entire team with their stellar defense for their respective positions. The defense will take a hit with the loss of the Godfather, Allen, but the defense should remain the big strength of this team.

The Grizzlies also do a very good job of taking care of the ball. That’s in part due to Conley’s sure hands while running the show, and in part due to the team’s slow, deliberate style of offense.

Two of the main proponents of “Grit ‘n Grind” may be gone with Allen and Randolph both leaving in free agency, but there will still be no shortage of toughness on this Grizzlies team. They will scrap and claw and make their opponents work for everything.

Weaknesses

While the Grizzlies finally joined the rest of the league and shot a lot more threes under head coach Dave Fizdale last season, the offense remains subpar. They lack genuine playmakers on the wings, which is a huge weakness for the team. It places way too much pressure on Gasol and Conley to provide both scoring and playmaking for the entire team.

To be fair to the team, they tried to address the situation by signing Evans. If healthy, Evans can provide good scoring punch off the bench. And speaking of health, a lot will once again be riding on Chandler Parsons and his ability to play and contribute. If he still can’t stay on the court, the Grizzlies will continue to lack that scoring and playmaking they desperately need on the wings.

The team’s overall depth could also be an issue. Deyonta Davis has not developed as anticipated, while Brandan Wright is as oft-injured as Parsons. Meanwhile, the backup point guard spot is rough. Andrew Harrison is a horrific shooter; Wade Baldwin showed little in his rookie year; and Mario Chalmers might not be that effective anymore after suffering a torn Achilles the last time he was in Memphis.

Player to Watch – Marc Gasol

Even the most die-hard Grizzlies fan probably won’t say this team is fun to watch. This is a team that relies on making things ugly to win, and entertaining fans isn’t high on their list of priorities.

But despite the worrying lack of overall aesthetic basketball appeal on the team, Marc Gasol does his best to make it up all by himself. Gasol’s intelligence and acumen on the court is a sight to behold. His passing for a big man is remarkable, and how he operates inside with wits and guile is beyond impressive. He even transformed himself into a prolific three-point shooter last season, which is a testament to just how talented the Spanish big man is.

Gasol is far and away the most entertaining player to watch on the Grizzlies roster, and will be massively important to the team’s fortunes this season.

2017/18 Schedule

1 Oct 18, 2017  vs. New Orleans Pelicans

2 Oct 21, 2017  vs. Golden State Warriors

3 Oct 23, 2017  @ Houston Rockets

4 Oct 25, 2017  @ Dallas Mavericks

5 Oct 26, 2017  vs. Dallas Mavericks

6 Oct 28, 2017  vs. Houston Rockets

7 Oct 30, 2017  vs. Charlotte Hornets

8 Nov 1, 2017  vs. Orlando Magic

9 Nov 4, 2017  @ Los Angeles Clippers

10 Nov 5, 2017 @ Los Angeles Lakers

11 Nov 7, 2017 @ Portland Trail Blazers

12 Nov 11, 2017  @ Houston Rockets

13 Nov 13, 2017  @ Milwaukee Bucks

14 Nov 15, 2017  vs. Indiana Pacers

15 Nov 18, 2017  vs. Houston Rockets

16 Nov 20, 2017  vs. Portland Trail Blazers

17 Nov 22, 2017  vs. Dallas Mavericks

18 Nov 24, 2017  @ Denver Nuggets

19 Nov 26, 2017  vs. Brooklyn Nets

20 Nov 29, 2017  @ San Antonio Spurs

21 Dec 1, 2017  vs. San Antonio Spurs

22 Dec 2, 2017 @ Cleveland Cavaliers

23 Dec 4, 2017  vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

24 Dec 6, 2017  @ New York Knicks

25 Dec 8, 2017  vs. Toronto Raptors

26 Dec 9, 2017  vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

27 Dec 11, 2017  vs. Miami Heat

28 Dec 13, 2017  @ Washington Wizards

29 Dec 15, 2017  vs. Atlanta Hawks

30 Dec 16, 2017  vs. Boston Celtics

31 Dec 20, 2017  @ Golden State Warriors

32 Dec 21, 2017  @ Phoenix Suns

33 Dec 23, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

34 Dec 26, 2017  @ Phoenix Suns

35 Dec 27, 2017  @ Los Angeles Lakers

36 Dec 30, 2017  @ Golden State Warriors

37 Dec 31, 2017  @ Sacramento Kings

38 Jan 2, 2018  @ Los Angeles Clippers

39 Jan 5, 2018  vs. Washington Wizards

40 Jan 10, 2018  vs. New Orleans Pelicans

41 Jan 12, 2018  @ Denver Nuggets

42 Jan 15, 2018  vs. Los Angeles Lakers

43 Jan 17, 2018  vs. New York Knicks

44 Jan 19, 2018  vs. Sacramento Kings

45 Jan 20, 2018  @ New Orleans Pelicans

46 Jan 22, 2018  vs. Philadelphia 76ers

47 Jan 24, 2018  vs. San Antonio Spurs

48 Jan 26, 2018  vs. Los Angeles Clippers

49 Jan 29, 2018  vs. Phoenix Suns

50 Jan 31, 2018  @ Indiana Pacers

51 Feb 1, 2018 @ Detroit Pistons

52 Feb 4, 2018  @ Toronto Raptors

53 Feb 6, 2018  @ Atlanta Hawks

54 Feb 7, 2018  vs. Utah Jazz

55 Feb 11, 2018  @ Oklahoma City Thunder

56 Feb 14, 2018  vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

57 Feb 23, 2018  vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

58 Feb 24, 2018  @ Miami Heat

59 Feb 26, 2018  @ Boston Celtics

60 Feb 28, 2018  vs. Phoenix Suns

61 Mar 2, 2018  vs. Denver Nuggets

62 Mar 3, 2018  @ Orlando Magic

63 Mar 5, 2018  @ San Antonio Spurs

64 Mar 7, 2018  @ Chicago Bulls

65 Mar 9, 2018  vs. Utah Jazz

66 Mar 10, 2018  @ Dallas Mavericks

67 Mar 12, 2018  vs. Milwaukee Bucks

68 Mar 15, 2018  vs. Chicago Bulls

69 Mar 17, 2018  vs. Denver Nuggets

70 Mar 19, 2018  @ Brooklyn Nets

71 Mar 21, 2018  @ Philadelphia 76ers

72 Mar 22, 2018  @ Charlotte Hornets

73 Mar 24, 2018  vs. Los Angeles Lakers

74 Mar 26, 2018  @ Minnesota Timberwolves

75 Mar 28, 2018  vs. Portland Trail Blazers

76 Mar 30, 2018  @ Utah Jazz

77 Apr 1, 2018  @ Portland Trail Blazers

78 Apr 4, 2018  @ New Orleans Pelicans

79 Apr 6, 2018  vs. Sacramento Kings

80 Apr 8, 2018  vs. Detroit Pistons

81 Apr 9, 2018  @ Minnesota Timberwolves

82 Apr 11, 2018  @ Oklahoma City Thunder

Prediction

Despite all the limitations in their roster, the Grizzlies are adept at overcoming them. Even after getting virtually nothing from Parsons last season, they still finished seventh in the West. If they get even a slight upgrade from Parsons this time around, they can still contend for a playoff spot. They likely will get more from Parsons and linger in the eight-11 seed range in the conference. Ultimately, though, the West may just be too good for them to sneak into the postseason even as they end up with around 40 wins for the campaign.

Where do you see the Memphis Grizzlies ending up this 2017/18 season? Comment below!

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Brad Taningco

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Brad Taningco has been a RealSport NBA contributor since Decemeber 2016. But apart from basketball, he's also a fan of soccer, American football, baseball, and ice hockey.

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