The Grizzlies were one of the bigger surprises in this model, with many predicting them to finish 6th in the West this season. The Grizzlies added Matt Barnes and Brandon Wright to the mix that made the Second Round of the playoffs last season, not addressing arguably their greatest need – 3 point shooting. Brandon Wright is actually a huge improvement over Kosta Koufos as he can legitimately play alongside both Randolph and Gasol, something that was difficult with Koufos. Barnes should also provide some toughness, an attribute that the Grizzlies need less than any other team. Despite this, neither player is a great 3 point shooter which leaves Memphis in the same predicament they were last season: a good team with a glaring weakness. However, there are positives to the continuity, Memphis still have all the same weapons they had last year and there seems to be no reason to expect a worse season from Memphis, with other teams at the top of the West potentially overtaking them the only way they would fall down the standings. However, with Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley pulling on the navy blue, Memphis won’t fall out of the picture completely.
The model predicts 59 wins for the Grizz and that truly does seem like ceiling of this groups potential this year, but it also doesn’t feel as if this team will be any worse than they were last year. They’re a tight-knit, well coached group of players and that will put them in contention once again, however a lot will have to go wrong for the other teams in the West for the Grizzlies to win the Championship. In the big scheme of things, however, this is a team that were the second seed in the West for most of last season and were 2-1 up in the second round against eventual champions Golden State before Conley’s injury took it’s toll. Really, they weren’t that far from the title last season and the people of Memphis know it.
If Conley, Gasol and Randolph can stay healthy and Jeff Green can be the player in real life that he is on paper, the Grizzlies could be a dark horse the West and if the big three are healthy at the right time, a real contender. However if one of the big three sustains a long-term injury, it could be a down year in Memphis…possibly a 52 win season instead of the usual 55.
Projected Wins: 59-23
My Predicted Wins: 52-57
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