Memphis Grizzlies: 2017-18 season preview

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images /
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Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The 2017-18 NBA season is nearly upon us. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Memphis Grizzlies played up to expectations last year. Accounting for injuries, it may even be fair to say they outperformed them by a hair.

Memphis has been a mid to low-end playoff team for most of the past decade, and 2016-17 was no different. The Grizzlies finished with the seventh-best record in the conference, and received a first round series with the San Antonio Spurs as their reward.

The team competed valiantly, winning two games, and very nearly a third. It was a feisty, but ultimately relatively modest trip to the postseason, of the variety that Grizzlies fans have likely grown accustomed to in recent years.

The ultimate outcome of the season was a definitive success given the team’s roster composition of older and/or aging lead dogs, and subsequent current competitive trajectory — good, but with a clear ceiling below that of a true contender.

That ceiling didn’t move much over the summer, but Memphis’ player personnel certainly shifted. Almost a third of the roster will have turned over between last year’s campaign and the start of the upcoming season, including the loss of long-time fan favorites and major rotation players in Tony Allen and Zach Randolph.

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The roster makeover is part of a larger trend that has seen the Grizzlies move away from their traditional strategies of slowing the pace of the game to a halt, grinding out points (often via post possessions), and relying on elite defense to win games.

Those techniques were certainly all prevalent last year, and they won’t disappear entirely in the coming season either, but head coach David Fizdale is clearly ushering the team’s identity to a more modern, pace and space style of play.

If he can keep the team defending at a high level, then a shift to a more efficient offensive approach could be monumental for the Grizzlies. It’s not clear that he has the right mix of players to make either of those realities (efficient offense and high level defense) come into existence, but this year should go a long way toward resolving how far the team has to go.

We’ll dive into all of this in greater detail shortly, but first let’s take a look at some key numbers from the 2016-17 campaign. Feel free to use them as a baseline for projecting how the team might perform this year, but remember that this is a much different unit. Significant deviations from what happened just one year ago are most certainly in play.

2016-17 Vitals

43-39, 3rd in Southwest Division, 7th in Western Conference
100.5 PPG (29th)/100.0 OPP PPG (3rd)
107.7 Offensive Rating (19th)/107.1 Defensive Rating (7th)

Team Leaders

Scoring:  Mike Conley, 20.5 PPG
Rebounding:  Zach Randolph, 8.2 RPG
Assists:  Mike Conley, 6.3 APG
Steals:  Tony Allen, 1.6 SPG
Blocks:  Marc Gasol, 1.3 BPG


NBA All-Defensive Second Team:  Tony Allen
All-Star:  Marc Gasol