Editor’s Note: The modern era of the NBA is generally accepted to have begun with the 1979-80 season, the advent of the 3-point line in the NBA. The lists to follow—one for each of the NBA’s 30 teams—will only consider seasons since 1979-80. We continue the series today with the best of the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies.
The Memphis Grizzlies were born during the NBA’s Canadian invasion of 1995, one of two expansion teams to begin play north of the border. Originally the Vancouver Grizzlies, the franchise lasted just six seasons in Canada, never winning more than 23 games.
After moving to Memphis in 2001, things slowly got better. The Grizzlies made the playoffs for the first time in 2004 under Coach of the Year Hubie Brown, who returned from a 15-year hiatus from the bench to lead Memphis to 50 wins.
The Grizzlies made the playoffs three straight years, 2004-06, but never even won a game.
That run was followed by four straight losing seasons before Memphis returned to the postseason in 2011 under coach Lionel Hollins and stunned the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
The Grizzlies have made four straight postseason appearances and seven total in their 19 seasons as a franchise.
The team set a club record for victories with 56 in 2012-13, when they reached the conference finals for the first time. The low-water mark was a 14-68 record in the franchise’s second season, 1996-97, although Vancouver finished with a lower winning percentage in the lockout shortened 1998-99 season, when the Grizzlies were just 8-42.
The Grizzlies have had five general managers, most recently Chris Wallace, who has been on the job—with varying degrees of decision-making power—since June 2007, when he took over for The Logo, Jerry West, who ran things from April 2002 through June 2007. The first GM, Stu Jackson, had the job from the franchise’s founding in 1994 until May 2000.
Hollins is the franchise’s winningest coach, going 214-201 from 2009-13, with interim stints in 1999-2000 and in 2004-05 included. Of the 11 coaches employed by the franchise in its 19 years, no other coach has more than 95 victories.
Here are the best players, by position, for the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies in the modern era, beginning in 1979-80. Players had to have played 200 games for the franchise and averaged 25 minutes per game.