Will Mike Conley make his first All-Star game? Will Marc Gasol once again be named to the All-NBA team for the Memphis Grizzlies? Will someone other than the Golden State Warriors or Cleveland Cavaliers make the NBA Finals?
We tackle those topics and more in our latest GBB Roundtable! Joining me today are GBB Gameday Editor Grace Baker, GBB Associate Editor Jack Noonan, and GBB Staff Writers Mac Trammell and McCarty Maxwell.
Who will be the Most Valuable Grizzly this season?
Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax) - Mike Conley. He will see an even larger role this season as a scorer and leader on the team, and alongside more athleticism and ball handling/facilitating wings, he will score over 21 points per game.
Grace Baker (@GraceBaker901) - Mike Conley will be the Most Valuable Grizzly this season. He really stepped up his game last season, and I expect the same this year. Hopefully as far as the All-Star game goes, Conley will finally get honored in that department.
Jack Noonan (@jnoonan1307) - Mike Conley. It comes down to just pure talent. He averaged a career high 20 points last season, and he’s in line to match that production with a faster pace offense. He'll be the MVG over the course of the season.
Mac Trammell (@Mac_Trammell) - Mike Conley will be the best player on the team, have a career year, and still not be an All-Star. This makes me sad.
McCarty Maxwell (@McCartyMaxwell) - Since it’s a cop out to say Mike or Marc, I'll say JaMychal Green. JaM needed to be in Memphis for this year to avoid being a total wash, though he still could be. He’s a dynamic power forward that can spread the floor, score on the block, and defend every position; JaM is the Grizzly that fits most in the new NBA. He keeps the Grizzlies relevant.
Who will win MVP?
Mullinax - Kawhi Leonard. He will show that he’s the main/only thing keeping the Spurs machine going at this point. Chris Paul will eat into James Harden’s production some, and the same can be said for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. The Claw stands alone. Honorable mention to LeBron James, who also figures to be in this mix.
Baker - I'm predicting that Lebron James will retake the MVP crown this year with his new-look Cavs and Dwyane Wade by his side.
Noonan - Giannis Antetokounmpo. I am drinking the Kool-Aid on this one. He’s one of my favorite players in the league, and I think he’s making the jump to the next level this year. He could be top 10-15 in the league in points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks. That is insane versatility which makes him my pick for the MVP.
Trammell - Kawhi Leonard. I was trying to think of one legitimate reason why he won’t win it this year, but I couldn’t come up with a single one. He’s the league’s best defender and also has become an unstoppable force on offense.
Maxwell - Kyrie Irving. I think people are overlooking Kyrie because he hasn't been in MVP talks before, but that’s the whole reason he wanted out of the Cleveland. Now that he gets to create his own legacy in Boston, I see him showing out in his new spotlight. He has a coach who’s notorious for using players' strengths, the pressure of deferring to Lebron is gone, and the dude is amazing. Sleeper pick.
Who will be the Rookie of the Year?
Mullinax - Jayson Tatum. With the injury to Gordon Hayward (get well soon), his role will expand considerably. He has the scoring potential and now will have both the opportunity and the platform with Boston.
Baker - Ben Simmons for the 76ers on this one.
Noonan - Ben Simmons. Even though this draft class will be one we talk about for the next decade, Simmons will still be classified as a rookie this year since injuries sidelined him all of last year. He will be a multi-dimensional player who will take the Sixers to another level. Like Giannis, he will impact the game in multiple statistical categories.
Trammell - De’Aaron Fox has the “it” factor in addition to being an incredibly fast human being, adept passer, and silky ball handler. Sacramento will be better than people want to give them credit for, and its improvement will revolve around Fox.
Maxwell - Jayson Tatum. I seem like a Boston fan (more of a Stevens fan, no bias), but like I mentioned, Stevens maximizes a player's strengths. There are already rumors that Tatum will be a regular starter, already giving him a leg up on playing time, and he plays for a really good team that will allow him to thrive. With little to no pressure, a crazy good coach, and his talent, all signs point to the ROY award.
How many Grizzlies will make the All-NBA team?
Mullinax - Notice that it doesn’t ask about the All-Star game. As much as Marc and/or Mike will deserve to go, neither will be selected because the Western Conference is absurd. As far as the All-NBA team goes, I could see Marc getting a 3rd Team nod. Mike Conley is and will be great, but he plays in the era of Westbrook and Curry and Wall and Paul and on and on. Going to be hard to crack that list.
Baker - Marc Gasol and Mike Conley should both make the All-NBA team this year.
Noonan - 0. However, this just goes into my overall negativity going into this season. I have the Grizzlies winning 35-38 games this season and missing the playoffs. The last two seasons the Grizzlies made the playoffs but still did not have anyone on the All-NBA team. Team success should be a factor of All-NBA, and with predictions of this season being negative, I don’t think Mike or Marc could make it over others in the league.
Trammell - One? Marc Gasol has to be your pick here just by pure mathematics if you think any Grizzly is going to make an All-NBA team. There are about 50 billion great point guards in the league and only five-ish great centers (two of which play on the same team). So I can see Gasol being second or third team.
Maxwell - Zero. If Marc didn't make the third team last year, he won't this year either. Mike Conley just plays the point guard position in the wrong era, just terrible luck.
Will the Memphis Grizzlies make the playoffs?
Mullinax - I stand by my official 42-40 prediction, which probably gets them the 7 or 8 seed in the West. This team’s ceiling is 44 or 45 wins...but its floor? If injury befalls the Grizzlies, lower than 35 seems reasonable. Even totally healthy, 37 or 38 wins is reasonable to argue for as well. Optimism leads to my 42...but less than that, and a lottery trip, is probably just as possible.
Baker - Yes, they'll slide in at the 7th or 8th seed...I'm really hoping for the 7th seed (but I'm a really optimistic person, so...)
Noonan - No. Unfortunately, the roster is just not as good as it’s been in years past. Mike and Marc will dominate, but James Ennis and Wayne Selden (even though I like his game) or Andrew Harrison in the starting rotation will not be nearly good enough to make the playoffs in a very improved West.
Trammell - No (sad face). Too much great competition coupled with a perplexing offseason trending towards bad will nix the Grizzlies this year.
Maxwell - Yes. The streak won't end this year. The Grizzlies will slide into the 7th spot that they know so well towards the end of the year. The West is so good that every team will beat up on one another, and the Grizzlies are known to find a way to win. Plus, I trust Fizdale.
Who will make the NBA Finals in each conference, and who wins in how many games?
Mullinax - Cleveland out of the East, Golden State out of the West. Warriors in seven.
Baker - Easily the Cavaliers (especially now with the Hayward injury for the Celtics) for the East, and the Warriors will come out of the West. The Warriors will repeat what they did last year by dominating most of the playoffs. They'll beat the Cavs in 5 games.
Noonan - Warriors vs. Celtics. Warriors in 5. Warriors are the clear best, and, barring an unfortunate injury, they will roll through all the other "super" teams in the league. (Editor’s note- this prediction was submitted prior to Gordon Hayward’s injury and there has yet to be an updated prediction from Jack. Once there is one, it will be updated.)
Trammell - Cleveland in the East and Golden State in the West. Warriors in six.
Maxwell - Warriors vs. Cavaliers. Warriors sweep. If I had any money, I would put it all on this matchup and result.