NBA / Oct 7, 2009 / 3:16 pm

Memphis Grizzlies ’09-10 NBA season preview

Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson

Last year we debuted the “Highs and Lows” system — previewing the upcoming NBA season by predicting the respective ceilings and basements for each team. Same theme, different season…

Added: Allen Iverson, Zach Randolph, Hasheem Thabeet, DeMarre Carroll, Sam Young, Mike Taylor, Marcus Williams

Lost: Hakim Warrick, Darko Milicic, Darius Miles, Quinton Ross, Greg Buckner

Ceiling: 35 wins
Inarguably, the Grizzlies are a more talented team than they were last year. O.J. Mayo is on his way to being the NBA star he’s been expected to be since birth; Rudy Gay added 20 pounds of good weight to a body that already holds one of the League’s top young wings; Randolph gives Memphis their first legit post scorer since Pau Gasol; and rookies Thabeet (defense) and Young (offense) can contribute right away. Then there’s Iverson, just one season removed from finishing 3rd in the NBA in scoring, playing this season with an extra chip on his shoulder. Working together, they could make a move in the standings — although it still may not get them past last-place in a tough Southwest Division. And if nothing else, at least the Grizzlies are relevant for once. When was the last time anybody outside of Memphis was excited for this team’s season opener (vs. Detroit)? Two national TV games this year looks like nothing compared to the Lakers or Celtics, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Basement: Worst in the West
With all that talent, there are legit concerns and justifications for why the Grizzlies won’t be any better than usual. Foremost in the national media is Iverson, and whether he will prove his critics right by sinking this ship. But I’m looking more at the two men whose job descriptions hold them responsible for getting a roster full of misguided talent on the same page — unproven head coach Lionel Hollins and unproven PG Mike Conley. The third-year pro Conley was solid in the final month of last season, and his notoriously shaky outside shot is improving, but he’s still got a long way to go. Hollins is going into his first full season as an NBA head coach, and has two of the League’s (deserved or not) reputed coach-killers on his roster in A.I. and Z-Bo. The top six in the rotation (Conley, Mayo, Gay, Randolph, Marc Gasol, Iverson) looks solid on paper, but depth beyond that is an issue. And while this team can put points on the board, defense will be their undoing. Last season, only the Kings, Clippers and Thunder won fewer games than Memphis. Each of those squads have improved as well, and could realistically leap Memphis in the standings.

*** *** ***

10/6 — New York Knicks
10/5 — New Orleans Hornets
10/2 — Atlanta Hawks
9/30 — Sacramento Kings
9/29 — New Jersey Nets
9/28 — Denver Nuggets

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  • Mellmeister

    hmmm… i’ll say memphis is a sleeper… you wouldn’t know how good this team gets until midway through the season…

  • control

    I am very sure this team is going to tank. The management has managed to pickup two of the biggest killers of young talent ever in Fat Zach and AI. AI will have Gay Mayo froze out in the first week, and I bet Fat Zach has already pushed a variety of drugs onto them. The only advantage to having Fat Zach around is he kills those team buffets by himself, so you don’t have to worry about the other teammates getting pudgy.

    It would be hard to intentionally design a team that is more suited to looking aight on paper, but being absolutely horrible in practice. Gotta give Chris Wallace (he still GM?) props for that.

  • Mellmeister

    Ooopsss… I forgot to include…

    Watch Out for The Perennial AllStar Hamed Haddadi… He’s going to lead the Grizz into the Playoffs… which will lead for the Grizz to trade OJ, Rudy, Marc Gasol, and Thabeet. They will only need Haddadi… because Haddadi said so… Hahahahaha!

  • Devo

    clipps and thunder improved but to say the kings will be higher in the standings than the grizz sounds like a maloof brothers advertising conspiracy

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Man I honestly feel with the right coaching certain players being motivated in and of themselves to really play hard this team could make serious noise.

    Feel like they have the dudes to do it, just a matter of chemistry and consistency.

    Seems like a fun team to watch and most def. a tough team. Honestly I would love to see a team like this use the Suns’ system of running and getting those buckets quickly and in transition.

    Course Marc and Zach running is kinda where the dream stops.

    Oh well still hope this will be better than tragic.

  • YO MOMMA

    if u think about it this might be the most talented team iverson has ever been on (besides maybe denver). but on paper they are a helluva lot more talented than that ’01 finals squad. but of course chemistry is an issue

  • That’s whats up

    they will suck

    hard
    31-51 most likely

  • doc

    That 01 squad would LOCK THIS TEAM THE FUCK UP.If this team ceiling is 35 wins,then AI aint no damn superstar ON the court.

  • the cynic

    at least they don’t have Darko

  • s.e.

    Anyway you slice it, the Grizzlies are a circus monstrosity. They just went from up-and-comers to the weirdest blob in the NBA. I think they will very possibly tank in a big way but i think their ceiling is a little higher. at the very least, on paper, they could make a push for 8th seed.

  • sh!tfaced

    at least. lol

  • Boofrog

    Zach Randolph is terrible.