There’s never enough time to soak up all the basketball news—believe me, I try—so it’s always beneficial to chat with our fellow basketball-obsessed fans before we play a team for the first time.
Today we get a chance to hear about the Memphis Grizzlies from SB Nation’s Grizzly Bear Blues.
The Memphis Grizzlies are sort of stuck in that weird cycle of elite mediocrity: a perennial playoff team with little to no chance of winning a NBA title, yet unwilling to blow it all up and rebuild. Can they somehow make the leap and restructure on the fly in order to push themselves back into title contention?
Through it all, they continue to win the hearts of fans and foes through their team-based approach and gritty play style. What’s in store for the team this year?
GSoM’s staff put together a set of questions for Colin Griffith of GBB, whose responses are below.
GSoM: How much does Marc Gasol have left in the tank?
Colin Griffith: As long as he stays healthy, I think Marc could have somewhere around 5 seasons left. His game isn’t based on his athleticism, which is a positive. Expanding his game to include a 3 point shot also helps him as he won’t be spending as much time battling other bigs in the paint. However, he has a history of injuries, so as long as he is able to keep himself healthy, I think he has a number of productive seasons left.
GSoM: What would be considered a successful season from Chandler Parsons, and what is the expectation for him this year?
Colin Griffith: Staying healthy enough to play about 60 games would constitute a successful season I think. Most of Parsons’ struggles last year where due to the fact that he wasn’t fully healthy. He didn’t play very well in the opener, but if he can stay on the court for the majority of the season, I think he’ll play closer to the version of Chandler Parsons that Memphis thought they were getting, as opposed to the Parsons we saw last year. It’s unfair to expect that Parsons will be the 3rd scorer we signed him to be at this point, but the more he plays the more comfortable he will get and the closer he will be to fulfilling that role. For now, playing with the second unit to build his confidence will suffice.
GSoM: Can we expect a breakout year from Andrew Harrison this year or will he be shadowed by Tyreke Evans and Ben McLemore in the rotation at the off-guard spot?
Colin Griffith: Andrew Harrison is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He is supposed to be the backup for Conley that Memphis has been searching for. Then Memphis went out and signed Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers, capable ball handlers to spell Conley when he hits the bench. He got the start Wednesday night against New Orleans, but primarily because both Wayne Selden and Ben McLemore were out with injuries. When those two return and with Evans primarily handling the ball, I expect that Harrison’s playing time will go down unless he shows real improvement early on.
GSoM: How are you feeling about the move to waive Wade Baldwin a year after he was drafted in the first round? Do you have any major concerns about that decision making process?
Colin Griffith: I have major concern for the decision making process here. While I understood the rationale behind it, giving up on a first round pick after one season is admitting a huge mistake. While neither Baldwin nor Harrison showed much of anything last season, Baldwin arguably had more potential and deserved more time to showcase it. This is the second time in the past three years that the Grizzlies parted ways with a first round pick after only a year. With decision making like this, I find it hard to place trust in the top brass.
GSoM: Is this core still worth building around or is it time to tear it down for a rebuild?
Colin Griffith: I do think that this core is still worth building around, but only for a few more years. With Conley, Gasol and a full-strength Parsons is a solid core. Combine that with JaMychal Green, Tyreke Evans and a hopefully resurgent Ben McLemore, Memphis could be closer to competing than rebuilding with a few more pieces.