The Memphis Grizzlies start camp and preseason less than a month from now in September. The training camp roster is likely set, and the Grizzlies have lots of defensive minded, multi-skilled players they can choose from. From the depth on the wing to rotatable bigs, the Grizzlies have everything, for now. Soon the roster has to be down to the final 15.
GBB Senior Writer Parker Fleming talks about the training camp possibilities in today’s GBB Q and A.
Elbert Hubbard(@elbertjr_TV): What challenges do the Grizzlies face in training camp? What is the biggest storyline going in?
Parker Fleming(@PAKA_FLOCKA): The biggest challenge will be figuring out their depth situation at the 2 and the 4 starting spots. Garrett Temple, Dillon Brooks, and Wayne Selden Jr. all are good, logical options at the 2, and they can all fit next to Mike Conley, Kyle Anderson, and Marc Gasol. JaMychal Green and Jaren Jackson Jr. will obviously be the battle at the 4, and the coaching staff is tasked with deciding to throw the young rookie into the fire or not.
The biggest storyline will simply be how the Grizzlies look in preseason. Could they prove last season was a fluke to return to prominence in the loaded Western Conference.
Elbert Hubbard: Jaren Jackson Jr. was voted as a top five defensive rookie in his draft class. Is it worth it playing him as a backup center to Marc Gasol or starting ahead of JaMychal Green at the four?
Parker Fleming: Initially, I was all for starting him, since he was a top-5 pick and he looked awesome in Summer League. However, it may be wise to slot him as the backup “big” as opposed to the “backup center.” Doing so would give the Grizzlies a solid 3-big rotation of Gasol-Green-Jackson, and allowing opportunities to play JJJ alongside Marc or at his natural position, the 5.
Elbert Hubbard: Does Jevon Carter have a chance to play with the Grizzlies?
Parker Fleming: It depends on injuries. He’ll definitely make the team, as the Grizzlies spent a fairly high second-round pick on him. The depth at that position, specifically the Shelvin Mack signing, though erases any playing time he has for next season. He’ll probably get plenty of time with the Hustle, where he’ll devour G-League point guards.
Elbert Hubbard: The Grizzlies have plenty of combo guards, stretch fours and combo bigs. What do the Grizzlies need to be effective in the overpowered, LeBron and Curry dominated Western Conference?
Parker Fleming: For the first time in a while, they have the depth to do so – anyone from 9-15 in the depth chart isn’t guaranteed playing time on any given night. To be effective in the overpowered Western Conference, the Grizzlies need to structure their rotation depending on the matchups. Against smaller, faster teams, they need to lean towards more switch-heavy, versatile lineups. On the other hand though, the coaching staff has to find ways to make sure the “modern NBA” doesn’t make Marc Gasol obsolete and unplayable. If Gasol can’t stay on the floor, the Grizzlies have little chance to succeed in the West.
Elbert Hubbard: Which young Grizzlies player coming into camp and preseason would have the most impact on the floor or coming off the bench?
Parker Fleming: The easy answer is Jaren Jackson Jr, but I’m going to use Dillon Brooks here. Last season prepared him to play a prominent role next season and beyond, and he’s the kind of player that can have an impact both as a starter and a bench guy.
Elbert Hubbard: Which veteran and young player has the most to prove this season?
Parker Fleming: JaMychal Green has a lot to prove this season, especially as he’s entering a contract year. He probably won’t return to the team next year, but he’ll have to prove to 29 other teams that he’s worth paying next summer.
Wayne Selden Jr. is a young player that will need to prove himself next season. He’s an intriguing option in the modern NBA. He can play and defend both wings positions, create his own shot off the dribble, attack and rise above the rim, and shoot the 3-ball at a high level. He also is entering a contract year, and he has to show the Grizzlies and other teams that he’s worth invested in.
Elbert Hubbard: Based on the preseason roster, what is the Grizzlies overall playstyle? Are they still a defensive minded team?
Parker Fleming: They’re definitely a defensive-minded team, and I think they have the versatility to rival the GNG squads on that end of the court. Offensively, it’s hard to tell. They can play in a free-flowing offensive filled with ball movement. With Marc and Mike still in the picture though, will they look to return to the GNG-levels of pace and predictability instead?
Elbert Hubbard: What stat do the Grizzlies need to lower/raise in order to win consistently?
Parker Fleming: As always, the Grizzlies need to raise their 3-point percentage and attempts to win consistently. For the first time in years, you can actually count the number of shooting threats on two hands, and they should try to capitalize on that.
They also need to lower their turnover numbers. The Western Conference will be an absolute bloodbath, which means every possession matters – even in an 82-game season.
Elbert Hubbard: Who is your favorite Free Agent/Rookie signing this year? Is he likely to make the team?
Parker Fleming: I love the Jaren Jackson Jr. pick. For the first time in over a decade, the Grizzlies actually have a young player to be excited about. He has a captivating skillset that could make him a phenomenal NBA big man and the greatest Grizzly of all time.
Elbert Hubbard: Who are the Grizzlies going to cut or send to the Hustle? What is your final roster prediction?
Parker Fleming: Markel Crawford will probably be sent to the Hustle, given the Grizzlies’ wing depth. It’s tough to see who gets that 15throster spot, especially since Mack’s contract is guaranteed. I think it comes down to how much the Grizzlies value having insurance behind Gasol, Jackson and Rabb. If they think they’re fine with big men, Dakari Johnson will see the door. If not, you may see a scenario where the Grizzlies move on from Andrew Harrison.
The Grizzlies will soon start training camp in September. Their first preseason game is October 2nd against the Houston Rockets.