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?
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
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.
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.
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
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!