The Memphis Grizzlies added four veterans this offseason. It was a mix of players - older guys on vet contracts, a young guy looking to prove himself, guards, forwards. The biggest that they added for this team, was flexibility. Kyle Anderson, Omri Casspi, Shelvin Mack, and Garrett Temple were introduced at FedExForum in downtown Memphis on Monday and we learned some things pretty quickly about the newest Memphis Grizzlies.
Head Coach JB Bickerstaff said more than once that was excited about the possible lineups that he could roll out this season. This new group of players along with the new draft picks lets the new coach have a ton of different lineup combinations, some of which we could see very early in the season. Kyle Anderson has the ability to play multiple positions while also guarding some of the oppositions best players. Anderson also fully admitted that he is better with the ball in his hands, and hopes to help get his teammates more involved.
Anderson will be looking to expand his role this year, “That’s what I have done my whole life, that’s where I am most comfortable, you know I am not a guy that’s going to look to get 15 plus shots a game, I like to get guys involved and make good decisions”. Kyle Anderson could be a player that carries this team some nights, but it will be interesting to see what happens outside of the San Antonio Spurs system. Will he be able to expand that role and contribute on a nightly basis, all signs point to yes, but that will be a question heading into the season.
The other players were just as impressive as Kyle Anderson. Garrett Temple is a veteran that has been working on his three point shot every year and has improved ever year as well. He knows all the right things to say, including how impressed he has been with Jevon Carter’s defense. Omri Casspi was excited to come to the Grizzlies, “The core guys of Marc and Mike stayed and you know them as the leaders of this team and they’re minds are always at the right spot and they want to win right away and that was important to me.” Casspi is another guy that adds an experienced presence, three point shooting and roster depth.
Shelvin Mack is someone that can come up and help clean up the backup point guard spot right away and also play on the ball with Mike Conley in the game allowing him to get open to shoot threes or cutting to the basket. Mack is a low turnover guard who takes care of the basketball and knows where the ball needs to be in different sets, you can expect to make good decisions when he is out on the floor.
Flexibility is not something that this team has really seen in the past. During the Core Four era, the Grizzlies had some amazing players but flexibility was something that they struggled with, they were very one dimensional. This offseason, the front office were very specific in the type of player that they tried to acquire, whether through the draft, free agency, or even trades. They said that they wanted to get back to Grit and Grind, they wanted to get back to a defensive first mentality.
They did exactly that bringing in the hour veterans that sat on the stage Monday afternoon. Four different players with very unique skillsets, all bringing something different to the table, but they all had some of the same intrinsic values that they front office set out to acquire. They got smart basketball players and avoided acquiring players that did not fit what they were looking for within their organization.
This season they have a chance to be something different while getting back to what they have always been, a defensive minded team. The lineups that JB Bickerstaff has available to him could be something that we have never seen before inside FedEx Forum. Marc Gasol will still be able to play from the post while having a three point shooters all around him in case the double team comes, Mike Conley will be able to have other players to put in the pick and roll besides Marc while also having shooters to surround him while on the court.
Bickerstaff has more weapons than he had last year, the front office has improved this team this offseason, now its time to see what they can do on the court.