The NBA site HoopsHype recently posted a feature series entitled "State of the...", which essentially served as a season preview for every NBA team. In their post about the Grizzlies HoopsHype made a few relatively bold predictions. The post was relatively unaware of some observations that have come up recently, namely listing the Zach Randolph trade as proof that the Grizzlies are in a spending mode when in reality it merely put them above the minimum contract level. They finished by predicting the Grizzlies get to 35 wins this season. My intuition about some possible miscalculations after the jump.
The article's prediction seems to bank on the idea that the Grizzlies intend to add one more piece, namely another pure shooter. While I agree that another shooter would be useful and probably necessary, if anyone could list three pure shooters left in free agency that are ready to contribute at the NBA level they win a prize. I don't even have a prize, because Linas Kleiza is about the only shooter left, and I don't see Heisley dropping cash on Kleiza who wouldn't exactly be a stadium-stacker.
And while they're right that Sam Young and DeMarre Carroll look like fine picks in a weak draft, neither of these guys are an NBA level 6th man as rookies, which the Grizzlies are still missing in the void of Hakim Warrick's departure. Neither of the late draft steals will probably warrant more than 12 minutes of rotation a night, though they'll likely be playing at least that long if not longer. While the Grizzlies bench certainly got younger with Young, Carroll, Thabeet, and Marcus Williams (assuming his deal is ever finalized), their second unit didn't get much better for at least a year. Rookies just aren't ever that good in the NBA. This bench team will look just as exposed, if not more so, on defense than last years crew of such All-World ballers as Marko Jaric, Greg Buckner, and Darko Millicic did on offense. That's not a good sign.
So, yes, 35 wins is probably asking a tad bit too much. At this point I'm thinking somewhere just under that seems fairer, probably right between 30-35 with lots of close games. I project the Grizzlies to be similar to last year's Pacers, but with a few less wins due to greater parity of competition in the Western conference. Yes, it would be nice, but barring prodigious growth from Mayo and game changing production from Thabeet, say 8 points, 6 boards, and just under 2 blocks per game in about 18 minutes of time off the bench it seems highly unlikely that the Grizzlies live up to these expectations.