Disclaimer: For those of you who have been following the Grizzlies throughout the offseason, many of the initial talking points I will make will be old news to you. To make this column as concise as possible, I will be briefly discussing the Grizzlies’ participation in summer league, roster additions and losses (primarily Marc Gasol, Brandan Wright, and Matt Barnes), preseason results, and what this season has in store for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Summer league is a solid indicator of which free agents, development league players, or rookies have the best chance of getting a bench spot during preseason or even regular season. This summer’s MVP for the Grizzlies was easily point guard Russ Smith, but Jordan Adams also performed extremely well. The Grizzlies won the 2015 Orlando Pro Summer League Championship against the Orlando Magic on an offbalance shot by Russ Smith during the second overtime of the final game. Smith finished summer league by averaging 14.8 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.2 steals. Russ is an impressive player whose athleticism and fearlessness elicit a sense of confidence that most will only find in veteran NBA players. Though Smith is relatively inexperienced in the NBA, his style of play brings a breath of fresh air to the Grizzlies’ stagnant list of upandcomers. Grizzlies fans should be well aware of Jordan Adams by now. Especially since the Grizzlies just picked up his third year contract option. Adams’ summer league results also proved that he is worthy of representing the Grizzlies during pre and regular season. Adams averaged 16 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.25 steals.
The best thing that happened over the offseason for the Memphis Grizzlies was resigning one of the franchise icon Marc Gasol. Gasol’s max contract of $110 million ensures that there will be at least four more years of the Spanish Center. The contract allows Gasol to opt out of his contract to become a free agent after his fourth year. To say that the city of Memphis rejoiced is well beyond an understatement. Gasol’s high basketball IQ, ferocity, and excellent leaderships skills make him the Grizzlies’ most valuable asset. Resigning Marc Gasol gave the city of Memphis a reaffirmed hope in the Memphis Grizzlies. Considering the loss of the terrific back-up center Kosta Koufos, the addendum of Brandan Wright was met by Grizzlies enthusiasts with much delight. Not only is Wright a Tennessee native, but his three-year $18 million contract ensures that the Grizzlies are getting a high quality player for a beyond reasonable amount of money. Wright is the perfect big man to back up Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. His ability to play both power forward and center means that he should get a sizable chunk of minutes, but Grizzlies fans should be excited to see his display of athleticism he will add to the Grizzlies all-muscle style of play.
The weirdest acquisition made by the Grizzlies was that of Matt Barnes during the, “Let’s trade Luke Ridnour until he’s sick of being traded” thing. Grizzlies fans could have never liked Matt Barnes unless he played with the Memphis Grizzlies. Why? He has played his last three seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers. You know, that team the Grizzlies made flip-flops for? Anyway, Barnes was actually drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002 during the second round, which makes his odd NBA trip seem to come full circle. Grizzlies fans will enjoy watching Matt Barnes because he was the only player on the Clippers’ team who was not a fake tough guy. You can believe wholeheartedly that if someone gets in Barnes’ face, there will most likely be a conflict. His size gives the Grizzlies’ bench the muscle it needed to truly reach schoolyard bully status.
Basketball writers and analysts continue to scratch their heads as the Memphis Grizzlies become only more defensive in a league of sharpshooters and lightning quick pace. NBA fans should expect to see more low scoring games with high defensive efficiency from the Grizzlies. Preseason for the Grizzlies was pretty unattractive from the modern NBA’s standards, even though they only lost one game. Matt Barnes shot 2 of 18 from beyond the arc over the entire preseason, which leads many to think Courtney Lee might be the only wing who can shoot. If Lee is as hot and cold as he was last season, there could be some substantial blunders down the road for the Grizzlies. The 70th NBA season needs to be the season of the Memphis Grizzlies, but the only way this can be possible is by making improvements. Hopefully, the Grizzlies’ perimeter shooting will improve, but do not bank on it. Bank on the Grizzlies coming to play very physical basketball every night. Teams will continue to feel the Grizzlies well after they play against them. Expect grit and grind because that is more than likely what you will get.