11) Memphis Grizzlies 56-26 in the 2012-2013 season. 5th in the West. 2nd in the Southwest.
This team made the Conference Finals last year in one of the most unexpected situations in a while, yet they had no answer for Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. Their Center Marc Gasol proved he can play the game just as well as his brother Pau, and this team showed a lot of chemistry, even after trading away Rudy Gay. They made a solid run but now comes the next year, and with a lot of expectations this team didn't really get too active in the offseason moves. Will the chemistry payoff again, or will the lack of stars kill this team?
Acquired: Kosta Koufas, Mike Miller,
Drafted: Jamaal Franklin (#41)
Lost: Darrell Arthur, Tony Wroten
Starters: Mike Conley (PG), Tony Allen (SG), Tayshaun Prince (SF), Zach Randolph (PF), Marc Gasol (C)
Bench: Mike Miller (SG), Jarryd Bayless (PG), Kosta Koufas (C), Ed Davis (PF), Quincy Pondexter (SF)
Up: Mike Miller - Gotta be nice for Miller to go from lost in the Miami mix to one of the best bench options on the Grizzlies. Miller now has 2 NBA Championships and has shown his past injuries won't hurt his three-point shooting. Memphis recruited him to solely be a long range option for a team that does most of it's work inside. Miller now is in a place where he can be recognized as a key contributor, yet it will be interesting to see how he handles the new atmosphere.
Down: Tayshaun Prince - After being traded last year, it was a wonder how Prince would respond. His numbers were under what he averaged in Detroit and in the playoffs, he was non-existent. Quincy Pondexter was a bigger factor than Prince throughout the entire playoffs. With a new year coming, Prince will have to do some work this year if he wants to keep his starting gig over Pondexter. We'll see how Tayshaun comes back.
X-Factor: Marc Gasol - With Dwight's fiasco in LA, the Defensive Player of the Year Award was up for grabs, and Marc Gasol's solid year near the basket stole it. He was a force under the rim, and helped the Grizzlies get past the Clippers and the Thunder in the playoffs last year. Now with a new year on the horizon and Dwight Howard now in the same division, the Grizzlies will need even more from their star Center to keep up with the rest of the talented Western Conference.
Question to Ponder...Should Memphis consider trading Zach Randolph
Now hold on a minute. Zach Randolph is one of the keys to this team. He's a solid big inside, and the combo of him and Gasol worked very well last year in their playoff run. HOWEVER, this team has to be looking towards the future. This team is probably not a title contender, and Randolph is now 32 and has two years on his deal before this team would have to give him another deal. They have a young PF prospect in Ed Davis waiting in the wings. So the Grizzlies have to at least consider the idea of trading Randolph, since at this point in his career, this could be as good as he'll get. While he is a key of this team now, Memphis has to decide if they will keep him knowing they'll have to pay him and other players to help make a run at a title, or if they should trade him and look towards the future of the franchise.
Bold Prediction for the Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Miller will finish in the top 3 in the NBA in Three-Pointers Made!
This just seems like too easy a prediction. He's the only real three-point shooter on this team, and the Grizzlies will depend on him to make a lot of his long range looks for them to succeed. Mike Miller has shown he's back in form, and I wouldn't be shocked to see him knock down close to 3-4 three's a game, putting him in prime position to be in the top 3 in the NBA in 3's made. He's a streaky shooter too, so don't be surprised if Miller's streaky sense gets the Grizzlies at least a few wins during the year. He's also going to help Gasol and Randolph get a little extra space inside the paint. A great pickup, and what should be a great year for Mike Miller.
Projected Record: 47-35 6th in the West, 3rd in the Southwest.