Preseason Preview #19: Memphis Grizzlies

Season Goal: Stay Healthy

After 7 straight playoff appearances, the Grizzlies ended up with just 22 wins last season. A big reason for their struggles was missing Mike Conley due to injury. Out of their last 4 playoff seasons, Mike Conley led the Grizzlies in win shares 3 of those years. In addition to Conley’s injuries their third highest player, Chandler Parsons, played in only 36 games. By those two being healthy this team instantly gains two high-level players to improve their team. This roster has enough talent to compete for the playoffs, but if they suffer any major injuries their chances will plummet.

Storylines:

Is Jaren Jackson Jr. a Game Changer?

With the 4th overall pick in last year’s draft, the Grizzlies selected Jaren Jackson Jr., the power forward out of Michigan State. His length and mobility made him one of the more highly touted defensive prospects right away and he showed an ability to spread the floor in summer league. Will he turn the franchise around in one year? Probably not. But, Jackson Jr. still has a good chance of playing an influential role in the Grizzly’s improvement.

JJJ’s two biggest strengths, defense, and 3 point shooting fit in perfectly with the Grizzly’s needs. After being an elite defense for many years they plummeted all the way down to 26th in defensive rating last year. Adding a player who can guard out on the perimeter and in the post will no doubt improve their defense and if Mike Conley comes back 100% Memphis may jump back up to a top-tier defense in the NBA.

Their other major issue last season was 3 point shooting. Jaren Jackson Jr. isn’t completely lights out or a high volume shooter, but he should be able to hit at least a couple 3s a game at a respectable percentage. This doesn’t sound great, but it is exactly what the Grizzlies need. Last season, their best 3 point shooter who played in over 50 games was Tyreke Evans who now plays for Indiana; their second shooter was Dillon Brooks at 35.6% from three. That isn’t a bad percentage, but in the modern NBA, the best shooter’s percentage can’t be that low. Adding Jackson gives them another threat from three and should help improve a team with the 25th worst 3 point percentage and 24th lowest 3 point attempts.

Depth Chart:

PG: Mike Conley, Andrew Harrison, Sheldon Mack, Jevon Carter

SG: Garrett Temple, Dillon Brooks, Marshon Brooks

SF: Chandler Parsons, Kyle Anderson, Omri Caspi

PF: JaMychal Green, Jaren Jackson Jr., Ivan Rabb

C: Marc Gasol, Doral Moore

Salary Cap Situation

~123M of ~101M cap committed

Expiring Deals: Garrett Temple, Shelvin Mack, Andrew Harrison, JaMychal Green

Bad Contracts: Chandler Parsons (2yrs, ~50M)

*All salary data via sportrac*

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