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SOV Roundtable: Can the Grizzlies Improve Their Record in 2011(?)-2012?

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Over the next couple of weeks the writers of Straight Outta Vancouver will be answering questions and making predictions about the Grizzlies' 2011-2012 season. If you have a question , please email one of us, or leave it in the comments section. Today's roundtable discussion: can the Grizzlies improve their record this season?

 Tom Lorenzo: I fully believe that the Grizzlies can and will improve on their record. How many games over .500, though, is a mystery to us all, considering we don't even know how many games the pending season will be in length. Using winning percentage as an indicator, I think they can reach .600, but admit it's a tall task, considering the Grizzlies have only topped the .600-mark once in their franchise's history. This team seems poised, especially with the return of Rudy Gay, to topple last season's .561-mark, though. Should they lose Marc Gasol, that might change. But the team is going to be better this season, easily. In the end, though, all that matter is that they make the playoffs and, not only make some noise, but earn their way into the Western Conference Finals. I may sounds like a "homer," but I think we can say that while last season was fantastic, we're definitely poised to see an even better game of basketball in Memphis, whenever the season does start. Hopefully sooner, rather than later. 

Prediction: .600+ basketball, Western Conference Finals


Griffin Gotta: Last season the Grizzlies knew what they were dealing with around the same time we did. The team built itself, gaining in momentum and energy, in time for the season's stretch run, where it was all channeled into the bruising basketball force that shook the foundation of the Western Conference. They were a season-long work in progress, as any team is over an 82-game season, but one that showed real improvement from this time a year ago to last spring. In November and December, Memphis endured two three-game losing streaks, as well as skids lasting four and five games apiece. From January onward, like a New Year's resolution actually followed through on, the Grizzlies never lost more than two games consecutively again. The losses  in Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Thunder was their last streak of any kind. No team, over the rocky road of the NBA regular season, goes without being bruised and bloodied. Every team has their stumbling sunglasses and Advil stretches. The strong, stable teams however, stop the bleeding quicker and begin the next run of victories sooner. The Grizzlies will know who they are before (if?) the first jump is thrown on the 2011-2012 regular season. They can dive right back into the fray. The wear and tear they inflicted on opponents in last season's second half, that has them on everyone's radar for any remainder of this coming campaign, was the trial run. This season, Memphis should be able to start doling out the black eyes right from the start.

Prediction: .615, assuming somebody can do that math for me, and battling for home court in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Foreign Flopper: I'm cautiously optimistic about the Grizzlies this season. On paper, I see no reason why they can't be even better than last season, especially when you consider that last year's record is a bit deceiving--the Grizzlies intentionally dropped a few games at the end in order to match up against the Spurs. The Grizzlies are, by and large, a young team, and I believe that guys like Xavier Henry, Darrell Arthur, Sam Young, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley will continue to improve as they get older. Rudy Gay is also coming back, and, call this a hunch, I have a feeling that he's going to have a monster season after having to listen to everyone doubt him over the past six months. However, I have a couple of concerns. The Grizzlies have had fantastic luck the past few seasons in regards to injuries. Consider this: other than Rudy Gay and Darrell Arthur, no Grizzly has missed significant time due to injury. When you see how injuries continually affect promising young teams like the Trail Blazers and the Bucks, it certainly makes you nervous. My other concern is with Zach Randolph. As I've mentioned before, Zach's age worries me a bit; will we see any drop-off in his production as he enters his 30's?

Prediction: .650 and the 4th-seed. Possibly in the Western Conference Finals, depending on match-ups.  

Marcus Privitt: We need to be careful about giving Memphis too much credit here.  The team's rhythm is going to be thrown off with the lockout.  Though I think last season was a beautiful season where the Grizzlies performed beyond expectation, the 2011-2012 (who knows what we should call it anymore) season will be a time of maturity for the players on the team.  Last season was not a fluke - every player on the team did their best to be in the Playoffs and fought for every win.  Young players are unpredictable - who knows with what mentality they will walk into the season as now "veteran" playoff players?  Not to be a debbie-downer or anything, but teams do not naturally improve as the seasons go by.  Sports are a very well-mixed combination of skill and chance.  A spectacular performance of one season does not always equal a "more spectacular" performance the following season.

Prediction:  .575 basketball, 8th or 9th team in the Western Conference.