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Three reasons why the Grizzlies will struggle this year

Yep, you read that right.

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three
We believe you can fix this Memphis
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Editor’s note- This hot take is Corban’s. Not necessarily anyone elses here at GBB.

It is what it is y’all. The Grizzlies head into this season with a largely retooled roster, but with several question marks. There are also a few troubling issues that the Grizzlies will need to take care of if they want to make some ground in a top heavy western conference. Some of the issues are old, where others are just now rearing their ugly head. Let’s check them out, one by one.

Shooting

This has been an issue for the Grizzlies since the very beginning of the grit and grind era, heck, since they set down in Memphis more than a decade ago. Quincy Pondexter, Mike Miller, Jeff Green, Vince Carter, the list goes on and on of guys who were brought in to address the shooting drought. Sadly all have largely failed in one way or another. The new “solutions” are marquee free agent Chandler Parsons and shooting guard Troy Daniels. Parsons is a career 38% three point shooter and has been known to be a prolific shooter from deep at times. (see the ten three pointers he hit against the Grizzlies two years ago). Meanwhile, the only players who generated more points per attempts in spot up jumpers than Troy Daniels were Stephen Curry and J.J. Redick. That is elite company for a shooter.

However, Parsons is still coming off of a knee injury he suffered seven months ago, and Daniels is a straight up awful defender. As we know, shooters only help if their on the floor, and if those two aren’t regularly contributing then we only have Mike Conley as our only dependable outside threat. That is just not going to cut it. Maybe Coach Fizdale will put in some new schemes to get easier outside shots, or maybe Randolph and Gasol will extend their range more to open up the floor. Regardless of the solution, as of now shooting is still a problem that has yet to be fully addressed, at least at this point.

Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat - Game Seven
Troy Daniels will need to have better defense than this (from last season) if he wants to showcase his shooting prowess with the Grizzlies.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Depth

This is a relatively new issue for the Grizzlies. It’s not that it hasn’t been a problem before, just not on this level. Here’s a rough depth outlook. The names in bold are the projected starters, which in some areas (Tony Allen) are still subject to change.

  1. PG: Mike Conley, Wade Baldwin IV, Andrew Harrison
  2. SG: Tony Allen, Troy Daniels, DJ Stephens
  3. SF: Chandler Parsons, James Ennis, Vince Carter
  4. PF: JaMychal Green, Zach Randolph, Jarell Martin
  5. C: Marc Gasol, Brandan Wright, Deyonta Davis

What this shows is that there is not as much roster flexibility as one might expect. There aren’t multiple veterans capable of handling the ball besides Conley and Parsons, and maybe Vince if your still good on him setting your offense. After Conley at the point are rookies/untested players in Wade Baldwin and Andrew Harrison. Behind injury prone Tony Allen is defensive non-entity and shooting specialist Troy Daniels. Holding down the fort until Parsons comes back from yet another knee injury is James Ennis and the 40 year old Vince Carter.

The Grizzlies front court seems to have the most capable depth, with Z-Bo coming on to back up new christened starting PF JaMychal Green. Lastly, behind a suddenly gimpy Marc Gasol is recently oft-injured Brandan Wright and the still raw Deyonta Davis. What this means is that after a solid starting five takes a breather, the players coming in for them are a who’s who of “who’s that?” and names that would really make a difference if this was a decade ago. Coach Fizdale is really going to have to mix and match the rotations to make sure that a solid 5 is on the floor at all times, and with the players he has currently, it’ll be interesting to see how it all works out.

Defense

This one is surprising, right? After all, defense is/was the hallmark of Grit and Grind. However, on the defensive side of the ball, father time has been leaving his mark. The Grizzlies have had a top 10 defense for 5 years in a row, but last year they slipped all the way to 19th. Now granted, last year was an injury ridden campaign, and thus that statistic should be taken with a grain of salt. However, with a 35 year old Tony Allen and a 31 year old Gasol anchoring the defense, it is more than likely that the vaunted Grizzlies defense will never get back to it’s illustrious levels of old.

Allen in particular slipped at times on the defensive end last season, and whether that is the cause of age related performance decline or injury issues was pretty hard to tell (although it was probably a little bit of both). Gasol just was out of shape and slow to recover, so there is a chance for him to get back to a relative above average defensive player. Conley is a great defensive guard but the injury concerns for him are now very real, JaMychal is good but could be better, and neither Parsons or Randolph are known for their defensive prowess.

All in all, for the first time in a while, the Grizzlies will need to make sure that they keep their defense up to speed if that want to stay more then competitive in this western conference.

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs - Game Two
Can Tony Allen go back to being first team all defense?
Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The Grizzlies come in with some standbys, some new guys, and a whole lot of questions. To be clear, I do not expect the Grizzlies to “suck”. The Grizzlies have and will continue to be a scrappy bunch with a lot of heart who will continue to be competitive. However these issues are very real, and could very easily derail the Grizzlies season if they don’t address them.

Surely Coach Fizdale sees these issues as well and is working feverishly to address them. The season is fast approaching (EIGHT MORE DAYS) and all Grizzlies fans will have their eyes on Memphis as we eagerly anticipate this new campaign. Until next time Grizz fans, keep grinding.

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