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Five Early Season Hot Takes

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Its been four games, but my magic 8 ball is already talking.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

(Site Manager’s note - read the title of the post. It’s hot takes. Take them as such.)

Four games in and we have heard that Jaren Jackson Jr. is better than expected, that Bickerstaff isn’t putting the best players on the floor, and that maybe this team is better than anticipated.

Perhaps.

But my magic 8 ball is ready to send you into a deep state of concern for our beloved Memphis Grizzlies. Let’s jump right in.

Chandler Parsons will retire after this season.

Your first thought is that he still has next season left on his max deal, true. He is slated to make just over $25 million in his final year as a Grizzly. For you and I, that’s crazy to walk away from. But for someone that already has that money and frankly doesn’t need more, it’s a lot easier to see the benefit in walking away.

Parsons left the game in the first half in Monday’s in over the Utah Jazz. It was immediately reported that he has “knee soreness” and would not return. Inevitably, Parsons missed the next game. I am not saying he won’t return this season, I think he will play a casual 60-ish games and average 8 points a game.

But its time to hang up the sneakers my man, and if anyone is feeling that, it would be him. He knows his body, he knows how frequently it is failing him, and he has to know that he physically cannot compete at an NBA level.

If you watch the small sample size the Grizz fans have gotten from him, you’ll see that he plays timid. He plays like someone scared the put pressure on his knees, and his defense is atrocious because of it. If he decides to retire, the Grizzlies would still be responsible for his salary next season on the team cap, and Parsons would have to sit out at least a year before being eligible to return.

It sounds less-than-smart to have the $25 million cap hit for a player not even on the roster, but all things considered, that would be the same as the last two years of Parson’s tenure in Memphis. Having him completely off the roster clears up the obligation to play him and the headache of reading about his constant health concerns.

JaMychal Green will be traded before the end of the season.

NBA: Preseason-Memphis Grizzlies at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This is a tough sell for Grizzlies fans. Last year trading Tyreke Evans made all the sense in the world, so much so that not trading him was a fire-able offense. So fast forward to the trade deadline this season with a player that will garner much less attention than Evans did, and perhaps the Green trade is even more unlikely.

With that said, Green is on his last year of a two-year contract. He makes just under $8 million, which is a reasonable cap hit for a trading team. And he will put together a commendable season when he returns from injury. JaM is a high energy guy with decent shooting, above average rebounding, and the mobility to guard any position on the floor. A team looking to make a playoff push could use his talents, while the Grizzlies will have no reason to keep him.

Furthering the logic behind trading him, Green will look for more than $8 million a year moving forward. Though the Grizzlies are likely to have a big chunk of cap space open for 2019, he may price himself out of a roster spot for Memphis. Regardless, he is worth a second-round pick, maybe two, and the Grizzlies can make more use of that than his talents on the floor in meaningless games.

The Grizzlies will come up short of their Vegas prediction for wins this season: 34.5.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

According to Westgate’s over/under line for Memphis this season, they are being sold at 34.5 wins. If you are still able to place bets, I suggest putting your money on the under. Memphis fans, hear me out. Don’t be like Tennessee Titans fans, the fans who see Marcus Mariota’s miraculous comeback against the Eagles, but forget the three games the team hasn’t scored a touchdown.

Be realistic, the Grizzlies are not a 35 win team, especially not in the Western Conference.

Think about it like this: the SEC football teams will have a few losses each, aside from Alabama maybe, because the conference is so tough. Perhaps if those teams were in a different conference, they may go undefeated because of lesser talent. (Big Ten fans relax, I’m not talking about you.)

So back to the NBA, the Grizzlies have to play the Western Conference day in and day out. In this short season, they have already lost to the Sacramento Kings, a team that is likely to be at the very bottom of the league. Not to mention the top Eastern Conference teams that are mixed in the schedule as well.

On paper, the Grizzlies look better than last year. But just watching them play through four games, an average fan can tell there isn’t much difference compared to last season. Perhaps, actually no not perhaps, the fact of the matter is J.B. Bickerstaff has done little to nothing to change the dynamic of this team.

And in true Grizz form, the injury bug has already settled in the comfy mansion that Memphis always provides it, and will continue to haunt this team throughout the season. This team will not win 35 games, we can all just settle in for another bumpy ride.

Memphis will be last in the league in (defensive) rebounding.

The Grizzlies rebounding so far this season has been straight up offensive (snaps for the play on words). They rank 29th out of 30 for total rebounds per game at 40.3 and give up an absurd 51 rebounds a game to opponents. Here is why that’s a big deal: that’s 12.3 opponent offensive rebounds, resulting in 15.3 second chance points per game. Even more, the Grizzlies have the second worst field goal percentage (39.7%) in the league, meaning there are plenty of offensive rebounds to be had, yet Memphis only grabs 8.5 per game, which is good (or bad) for second worst in the league.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s keep going. Opponents only shoot 45% from the field against Memphis, that’s a lot of misses that are up for grabs. Memphis is only grabbing 31.8 defensive rebounds, that’s fourth worst at the moment. The point is: this team is atrocious on the boards. The problem is most evident on the defensive end. In typical non-fundamental fashion, Grizz players tend to turn and (wrongfully) attempt to out-jump the opponent. There is little to no boxing out, and it results in extra possession for teams that shouldn’t get that chance.

The size is there for Memphis: Marc Gasol and JJJ should be boxing out the opponent’s main rebounder, the forwards typically have a size advantage, and our guards are skilled enough to keep their man off the glass. But the combination of all those is not happening consistently, sometimes at all.

This will continue to be an issue that haunts Memphis down the stretch of close games, and tangibly prevents this team from taking the next step toward a winning culture.

J.B. Bickerstaff will be fired after one full season in Memphis.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit, this one is a little bit hot takey. Bickerstaff is fine, the players love him, he looks and acts the part of an NBA head coach, but let’s be honest here: what has he done to earn the head coaching job? Furthermore, what looks different about this team that makes anyone trust in Bickerstaff leading the charge back to the playoffs?

I don’t know what the magic number of wins that would get Bickerstaff fire this year, the number is pretty low. But I didn’t agree with his signing in the off season; despite what the Memphis front office led us to believe, he was not best coaching option available at the time. And I still don’t believe in him moving forward.

The schemes so far are embarrassing, just watch one quarter of basketball from Memphis and you’ll understand. The defense and rebounding have gotten worse believe it or not, and his rotations simply don’t make sense so far. Bickerstaff has a long way to go to solidify his position in Memphis.