After having the best regular season in franchise history then following it up with a Western Conference Finals appearance, ESPN's experts have ranked the Memphis Grizzlies 11th in their "Future Power Rankings".
Broken down into five sections: Players (6th), Management (9th), Money (27th), Market (23rd) and Draft (27th), the Memphis Grizzlies accumulated a total of 654 points of a possible 1200 points. For those that don't have ESPN Insider here's what the ESPN crew had to say on the subject:
Well, that was an interesting season. In December, Memphis scooped up John Hollinger, longtime co-pilot for the Future Power Rankings project, to help run the team, and the Grizzlies promptly traded top scorer Rudy Gay. While many thought the Grizzlies were cashing out on the season by shedding Gay's swollen contract, the Grizzlies actually grit 'n grinded their way to a franchise-high 56 wins and a first-ever Western Conference finals appearance.
The Grizzlies catapulted from 22nd to ninth in the Management category, which probably has more to do with the clarity of the team's ownership and direction rather than Hollinger's hiring (sorry, John). At the time of the last Future Power Rankings appraisal, the Grizzlies' future was up in the air, but 35-year-old tech prodigy Robert Pera has since bought the team from Michael Heisley and brought in power brokers Jason Levien and Stu Lash along with Hollinger into the front office. Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace remains a part of the team, but it's likely he will pursue other opportunities around the league.
The Grizzlies have many questions going forward, including the status of Zach Randolph (owed $34 million through 2014-15) and coach Lionel Hollins (a likely soon-to-be free agent). But with a solidified brain trust, a stacked roster built on cornerstones Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, and a lighter balance sheet, it's good to be a Memphis fan these days.
Ahead of the Grizzlies, ESPN ranked the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors in the top 5. The Charlotte Bobcats, Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors filled out the bottom five.