NBA Power Rankings #19: Memphis Grizzlies
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The Grizzlies coming in this high may surprise people after they finished just 22-60 a year ago, but it's important to remember the full story of that season. The two major story lines of the 2017-2018 Grizzlies were Mike Conley and David Fizdale.
Conley played just 12 games during the year due to injury. In those games where he was active, Memphis went 7-5 and had victories at home against the Pelicans, Warriors, Mavericks and Rockets while getting road wins against the Rockets, Clippers, and Trail Blazers. Four of these teams went on to make the playoffs, and the Clippers missed the playoffs but finished above .500 on the year. Conley is expected to be ready to go for the season and at age 30, should still be in the prime of his career. Conley, one of the most underrated guards in the league, should help the Grizzlies drastically improve from last season.
David Fizdale however, will not be able to help the Grizzlies win more games this year. Fizdale was fired midway through the season in what was widely criticized around the league. While many, including myself, believe that he shouldn't have lost his job, having one head coach for a full season will be helpful. Not to mention that the interim head coach after Fizdale's firing is staying on as head coach. Having now half a season under his belt, he should be prepared to have a better season with experience under his belt.
The true "Grit n' Grind" days of Memphis are over with the departures of Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, but Conley and Marc Gasol are arguably top 10 players in their positions. The addition of rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. is probably their most noteworthy acquisition, and while he has a high ceiling his impact in his first season will most likely be relatively small compared to what he may be able to do four or five years from now. Memphis will be one of several teams competing for one of the bottom seeds in the Western Conference. After such a disappointing season last year, they may be able to surprise some teams and walk away with more wins than many expect.