A Look at the Memphis Grizzlies’ Roster

Posted on October 29, 2014

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By: Jack Gerber

Dirk-Nowitzki-41-of-the-Dallas-Mavericks-gets-his-shot-blocked-by-Vince-Carter-15-of-the-Memphis-Grizzlies-598x315

If you have been around Memphis lately, you’ve probably noticed a buzz in the air about this Grizzlies team. With a healthy roster and some new faces, many think the Grizzlies team could be our best yet. Our very own Zach Randolph calls this “our best team we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

First, let’s rewind and take a look at last season.

The Grizzlies secured a very respectable fifty games last year.  After opening the season 13-17, much of Grizz Nation questioned whether or not we had a chance at the playoffs. I even remember a time when a sizeable number of Grizzlies fans considered tanking to be our best option. Piling on the troubles, three of our core players, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Tony Allen, missed over fifty combined regular season games. However, in true Grizz fashion, they grit and grinded their way to the playoffs, nearly securing a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in one of the greatest opening round playoff series the NBA has ever seen.

Adding a legend to the lineup

Now that we’ve refreshed our memory, let’s take a look at the season upon us. The Grizzlies have a few new faces on this roster this time around that fans have a lot to be excited about. Easily, the most exciting addition is Vince Carter. Last season with the Dallas Mavericks, Carter was runner-up for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year and made more three pointers than any other player coming off the bench in the last two seasons. I’d bet he’s excited to prove that he’s still got some juice left in the tank. Grizzlies fans should be thrilled about Vince coming off the bench, but unfortunately, we may have to be patient. He underwent offseason surgery on his ankle and is still recovering, which means we will see more minutes from Quincy Pondexter initially.

Q-Pon

Pondexter had a rough 2013-2014 campaign. After a promising playoff performance in the Western Conference Finals two seasons ago, he was able to snag a four-year contract extension with the Grizzlies. Just 15 games in, Pondexter had a season-ending foot injury, shot under forty percent and had a stare down with coach Joerger that probably wasn’t doing him any favors. This offseason, however, the team has praised his play and work ethic. Everyone knows he has the talent to be a solid role player for this team; the only person he has to prove it to is himself.

Adjustments in the starting lineup

So, with the addition of Vince Carter and Quincy Pondexter back from injury the Grizzlies should see much better play from the wing positions. Their ability to shoot the three ball will prove colossal to a team that has consistently finished as one of the worst three point shooting teams in the NBA. Dave Joerger already announced the starting line up for the home opener with one glaringly obvious adjustment- Tayshaun Prince is nowhere to be seen. This is not to say he won’t see the court, but it’ll tough to give him a noteworthy number of minutes with the surplus of wings on the team. We know that Tony Allen and Courtney Lee are starters, but there is the lingering question of who will back them up. The most likely depth chart behind Allen and Lee will be Quincy and Vince.  Many fans would like to see the much-hyped rookie Jordan Adams on the floor, but more than likely, he’ll end up in the D-League with Jarnell Stokes, our other 2015 Draft pick.

Jon Leuer means business

Another player who got attention in the offseason was Jon Leuer. Entering his forth year in the NBA, this will be Leuer’s best shot at significant playing time. Leuer provides another three-point threat off the bench from the power forward position. The “stretch four,” as it is called, is becoming increasingly popular in the NBA and that is exactly what Leuer does is stretch the floor. Expect his minutes to fluctuate, but if he proves that he can play respectable defense against other forwards, his role will inevitably continue to increase. If he struggles, however, expect a three-man rotation between Gasol, Randolph and Koufos. You may see some minutes from Jarnell Stokes, but Joerger has expressed that he does not foresee any minutes for the rookies at this time.

Depth at Point Guard

It’s been ages since a Grizzlies team has entered a season with good feelings about a backup point guard, let alone two. Over the years, the Grizzlies have signed veteran point guards such as Keyon Dooling, Jason Williams and Gilbert Arenas. Out of retirement back up point guards (hopefully) are a thing of the past. The Grizzlies recently dropped Kailen Lucas, leaving Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes as our back up point guards. Nick Calathes, who was February’s Western Conference Rookie of the Month after replacing an injured Mike Conley, is suspended for the first twenty games of the season. Still expect him to compete for that back up point guard job when he returns. Udrih is a solid NBA player bringing valuable experience to our bench. He provided a huge spark for the Grizzlies in last season’s playoff run against the Thunder and made clutch shots, even finding himself alongside Conley a few times. Expect that trend to stay the same this season as well. Joerger will be mixing and matching our lineups all year, so we’re sure to see some dual point guard lineups with Udrih or Calathes when he gets back from his suspension.

This could be the best roster that has ever suited up for the Grizzlies franchise.  It is our deepest bench by far, and if Gasol can get back to elite status, this team can go as far as they want to go. Word is, Gasol is in the best shape of his life and is primed to have a career year. Not to mention we have the players to spread the floor Gasol and Randolph now. The Grizzlies have one of the most experienced starting units in the NBA, and if they can stay healthy through a tough Western Conference schedule, we could be looking at a top four seed and home court advantage. Then, all we have to do is avoid the Spurs.

Jack Gerber is Memphis native and recent graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is currently living in Atlanta, GA and working for CBRE Group, Inc.

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Posted in: Grizzlies, Sports