The Grizzlies have a very interesting team this year, with a tantalizing mix of rookies and veterans. They made all the right moves this off-season, re-signing Mike Conley and then bringing in a top free agent in Chandler Parsons. With these additions to an already strong team, the Grizzlies have what it takes to make some moves in this somehow-even-tougher Western Conference. However, some Grizzlies fans are understandably worried about the roster. The question on their minds is: “are the Grizzlies too old?”
The Grizzlies have one of the more diversified rosters age wise in the NBA. They range from 19 year old Deyonta Davis to 39 year old Vince Carter. The Grizzlies are known as an older, mundane team, but they are a significantly younger team this year. Only 6 players have 5 years or more of NBA experience. Only three players have more than a decade of NBA experience (with Mike Conley entering his 9th campaign). This team is not nearly as old as it is insinuated; in fact, they may be a little too green.
Over the past two years, the Grizzlies have accumulated and stockpiled young talent. As a result, this season’s Grizzlies team will feature an ensemble of fresh legs at every position. As good as that may sound for the future, that may not be that beneficial for the short term. In a tough road game against the Warriors or the Spurs, if our starting back-court are banged up or missing time, are Wade Baldwin and Andrew Harrison the answer? Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph is in foul trouble doing a crucial part of the game. In comes...Deyonta Davis? Jarell Martin?
Of the 19 players currently under the Grizzlies name per Basketball Reference, 11 of them have less than 4 years of NBA experience. Now keep in mind that the roster will be trimmed as we move closer to the NBA season, but the message is clear. The Grizzlies now have an influx of young prospects, but will need to rely even more heavily on the veterans throughout the course of the season.
If anything, the Grizzlies must find a way to make veteran players even more of a focus, but also incorporate the young ones over the year. If this were the Lakers, the goal would be reversed. But the Grizzlies are still primed to be a contender, and plan to stay one until their window closes.
And perhaps the young ones are the answer. Mike Conley can show Baldwin and Harrison how to properly manage a game and run a lethal pick and pop. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol can show the young bigs how to bang in the post while still being a force on both sides of the ball. Tony Allen will rant and rave and instill that down and dirty defensive intensity. And Chandler Parsons and especially Vince Carter will be perfect locker room guys with stories and experiences to share.
So yes, the Grizzlies will need to get younger. Yes, the game is moving faster, and yes our veterans are getting older. But the window of contention, though closing, is still open. And this team will only go as far as the older, grizzled bears will take them. The young ones will get their time. However, there is still much for them to learn.
Until next time Grizz fans, keep grinding.