May 23, 2019, 2:52 am
The Grizzlies had reasonable expectations that they could re-emerge as a playoff team in the daunting Western Conference on the backs of their All-Stars. Instead, they saw themselves sitting near the bottom of the conference by mid-January. Soon after that, they decided to embark on a rebuild that would be centered around Jaren Jackson Jr. and their second overall selection in June’s draft.
On November 21, the Grizzlies had a record of 12-5 and were sitting in first place in the Western Conference. It seemed as if the team had a clean bill of health and could make a run towards the postseason. Wishful thinking in hindsight.
From that point on, the Grizzlies went 21-44 and finished tied with the Mavs and Pelicans for the second-worst record in the West. In a 26-game stretch in the middle of the season, the Grizzlies only won four games. The team even tried to shake things up by trading for Justin Holiday in early January but it didn’t move the needle.
The Grizzlies have never gone through an entire season in Memphis without a Gasol brother. 2020-21 will be the first full season without one of the Spaniards. Pau Gasol played for the Grizzlies from 2001 until he was traded for his brother, Marc Gasol, in 2008. Marc proceeded to be one of the main pieces of “Grit and Grind” until he was traded to the Raptors at the deadline in February for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, and a future second-round pick. The Gasol trade showed that the Grizzlies were ready to move on from the most recent glory days and build a new identity with a more youthful roster.
However, the future doesn’t look as grim as this past season was for the Grizzlies. The ping pong balls fell in their direction as they received the second overall pick this year. They will most likely select a point guard of the future and pair him with the 4th overall selection from 2018, Jaren Jackson Jr..
There are a few major questions that we will soon have the answers to. Will the Grizzlies look to trade Mike Conley Jr., the only vestige of “Grit and Grind”? Will they look to replace Conley Jr. with their second overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft? The likely candidate would be Murray State standout Ja Morant, with early reports suggesting that Memphis has already zeroed in on him.
Take a look at where Memphis stacked up compared to the rest of the league.
Offensive Rating: 27th
Defensive Rating: 9th
3-Pointers Attempted: 25th
3-Pointers Made: 27th
Total Rebounds: 29th
Free Throws Attempted: 18th
Fan Attendance: 26th
The Grizzlies were in the top-10 in defensive rating while sitting in the cellar offensively. They scored a league-worst 103.5 points per game after finishing 29th last season. They will improve their win total if they can improve their offensive efficiency while building upon the positives they displayed defensively.
The Grizzlies had a total of 24 different players that played over 10 games for the team last season. Starting the season with a more stable roster will be a good start.
J.B. Bickerstaff started with Memphis in 2016-17 as an associate head coach. He was elevated to head coach in 2017-18 after the team fired David Fizdale. In his one and a half seasons as head coach for the Grizzlies, Bickerstaff was 48-97.
The team decided to shake things up in the front office after this past season . They demoted their general manager, Chris Wallace, to a reduced scouting role, and have decided to hire three attorneys to lead the front office.
Jason Wexler will serve as the team’s president. 30-year-old Zach Kleiman will serve as Vice President and Rich Cho will serve as the head of the analytics department. They also hired former GM Glen Grunwald as a senior adviser. Grunwald, Cho, and Wallace all have GM experience and will work under the tutelage of Kleiman.
There will be a lot of decisions for the Grizzlies front office to make this offseason. The first one that needs to be decided is who will be the coach heading into next season. It is always very important for a new front office to pick a coach with whom they can effectively communicate and work together for a common goal.
The new hire will have his work cut out for him with a host of young talent that needs to be developed. The Grizzlies are oozing with potential but will need a united foundation built in order to see it come to fruition.
When they find their new coach, the front office and coach will need to work together to make some tough decisions.
Mike Conley Jr.
ADP: 56/50 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 35/27 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 27/27 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 70
2018-19 averages: 70 G | 33.5 MP | 21.1 PTS | 2.2 3PM | 3.4 REB | 6.4 AST | 1.3 STL | 0.3 BLK | 1.9 TOV | .438 FG% | .845 FT%
Conley was able to rebound after an injury-riddled 2017-18 campaign in which he only played 12 games. He exceeded his value and finished within the top-10 at his position. He doesn’t have the flashy plays of other guards drafted around him. However, he puts up solid numbers across the board.
The Grizzlies will have to make a decision about their leading scorer and distributor. Will they keep Conley to lead this young team into the future or will they trade him for assets and young talent?
If he stays in Memphis, we can expect similar production from the 31-year-old. If he is traded, it will most likely be to a team that is ready to compete for the playoffs now. In turn, his usage rate would suffer along with his stats. Of course, he would still have the potential to reach third-round value if he goes to a good fit for his skill set and is given similar opportunity.
At the age of 31 with a history of lower body injuries and an uncertain future, it will be interesting to see where Conley ends up to start next season. Stay tuned.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
ADP: 128/95 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 132/129 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 84/88 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 58
2018-19 averages: 58 G | 26.1 MP | 13.8 PTS | 0.9 3PM | 4.7 REB | 1.1 AST | 0.9 STL | 1.4 BLK | 1.7 TOV | .506 FG% | .766 FT%
Jackson Jr. had a solid rookie campaign although he missed the last 23 games of the season with a right quad injury.
Despite playing in only 58 games, he was second among all rookies with 82 blocks. He averaged a combined 2.3 steals & blocks per game as a rookie. Those are very encouraging numbers and he also proved that he can hit from distance as he shot 35.9%. That is better than both Luka Dončić and Trae Young.
He is poised to increase his averages across the board in his sophomore season. Expect JJJ to average big minutes and take on a larger role as the team continues to head in a new direction with the talented youngster as its centerpiece. That quad injury robbed us of a truly big finish, and more casual fantasy players may still be sleeping on what Jackson can do in heavy minutes. As long as he can stay out of foul trouble, of course.
ADP: 69/76 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 151/156 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 70/76 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 49
2018-19 averages: 49 G | 22.3 MP | 15.6 PTS | 0.3 3PM | 8.6 REB | 1.4 AST | 0.4 STL | 1.1 BLK | 1.8 TOV | .559 FG% | .795 FT%
Valanciunas played 30 games in total for the Raptors before dislocating his left thumb in a game against the Warriors. He missed 27 games as a result before being traded at the deadline to the Grizzlies. Valanciunas saw his averages rise as soon as he got to the Grizzlies. He was traded from a team that had a logjam at center to a team that was devoid of talent at that position, especially after Jackson Jr. was shut down for the season. Jackson Jr. and Valanciunas only played two games together.
Valanciunas saw a 5.5% bump in his usage after being traded and enjoyed a career-high of 31.4% in the 19 games he played for Memphis. In that time, he also saw enjoyed career-highs in minutes, rebounds, assists, blocks, and points. He provided top-40/50 per game value in-8/9 cat leagues as a member of the Grizz.
Valanciunas has a player option for 2019-2020 that he will have to decide whether or not to pick up this offseason. If he does return to the Grizzlies, he will likely start and play a big role. Jackson’s return may eat into JV’s value a bit as we have yet to see the two start alongside one another in the frontcourt. A lot will hinge on how the 27-year-old Lithuanian fits alongside JJJ and who the Grizzlies decide to employ as their starting point guard.
ADP: 130/85 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 207/203 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 110/109 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 43
2018-19 averages: 43 G | 29.8 MP | 8.0 PTS | 0.2 3PM | 5.8 REB | 3.0 AST | 1.3 STL | 0.9 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .543 FG% | .578 FT%
Kyle Anderson’s 2018-19 campaign can only be described as frustrating for fantasy owners. The 25-year-old forward wasn’t able to stay healthy as he played in only eight games after the calendar turned to 2019.
In the time that Anderson was healthy, he played his career-high in minutes but his averages didn’t increase along with the playing time. Anderson has a unique skill set that may not get a typical boost in fantasy categories when he receives more minutes. The defensive numbers should always be there but his usage has only varied 2.3% across his five seasons. He is a known quantity in terms of fantasy output.
As soon as the season ended, he underwent thoracic outlet decompression surgery and is expected to be ready for training camp. Anderson has the potential to provide value in all categories other than points as he has never averaged more than eight points per game in his career.
ADP: NA/132 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 72/69 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 111/105 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 82
2018-19 averages: 82 G | 31.8 MP | 10.5 PTS | 2.0 3PM | 3.9 REB | 1.8 AST | 1.5 STL | 0.4 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .386 FG% | .896 FT%
“A tale of two seasons” aptly describes Holiday’s 2018-19. He started all 38 games that he played in a Bulls uniform, where he provided top-65/45 value in 8/9=cat leagues. If Holiday is given another opportunity to be the leading scorer on a terrible team, he becomes a fantasy darling. He enjoyed a career-high of 34.9 mpg with the Bulls which led him to career-highs in rebounds, assists and steals.
However, the second half of his season was far from perfect. In a Grizzlies uniform, Holiday was ranked 174/176 in 8/9-cat leagues. There was some expectation that Holiday was ready to become a go-to scorer for the Grizzlies as they struggled to find shooters throughout the season. However, Holiday has only eclipsed the 40% shooting mark in one of his six seasons. When comparing his career shooting percentage with the rest of the league in 2018-2019, Holiday would rank in the 20th percentile at 39%.
He could be looked at as a streamer next season in standard leagues if he is given the opportunity and your roster can afford poor FG%. Don’t expect him to provide top-100 value again unless he lands in a nice spot.
ADP: 944/138 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 212/231 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 222/253 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 63
2018-19 averages: 63 G | 30.2 MP | 9.9 PTS | 1.4 3PM | 2.8 REB | 2.4 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.3 BLK | 1.4 TOV | .408 FG% | .860 FT%
Avery Bradley saw his usage rate fall to the lowest point of his career in the 55 games that he played for the Clippers. The trade to the Grizzlies was great for Bradley’s fantasy outlook as he was at his peak fantasy performance in the 14 games he played and started for the team. He averaged 16.1 points on 46.3% from the field and had a career high 4.0 assists per game.
However, we can attribute his productive stretch to a team that was decimated by injuries and needed able bodies in order to compete.
The Grizzlies have a team option on Bradley’s contract that would pay him nearly $13M next season. If they decide to waive him by July 3rd, they would only be on the hook for $2M. We shouldn’t expect Bradley to be drafted in redraft leagues smaller than 20 teams and even then, he falls on the bubble.
ADP: NA/140 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 131/118 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 164/142 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 75
2018-19 averages: 75 G | 22.7 MP | 8.7 PTS | 0.7 3PM | 3.5 REB | 3.3 AST | 1.2 STL | 0.4 BLK | 1.0 TOV | .434 FG% | .793 FT%
Wright is another one of the six guys that the Grizzlies welcomed in mid-season via trade. He was unable to get significant minutes for the Raptors as they had great depth at the guard position. He averaged only 18.3 mpg for the Raptors in comparison with his career-high mark of 30.8 mpg for the Grizzlies.
He also earned career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks while tying his career-high mark in threes made in the 26 games he played with the Grizzlies.
To truly capture Wright’s dominance with the team, we can look at the last week of the season. Over his last four games, he had three triple-doubles, something that he hadn’t done even once in his prior 194 games. A flash in the pan or the start of something special? Only time will tell.
Wright will be given the opportunity to compete for a starting job in the NBA next season, but if it’s in Memphis we’d be wary of Morant’s presence — especially if Conley isn’t dealt this summer.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 295/289 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 172/167 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 34
2018-19 averages: 34 G | 23.5 MP | 8.3 PTS | 1.4 3PM | 4.6 REB | 1.5 AST | 0.4 STL | 1.0 BLK | 1.1 TOV | .427 FG% | .840 FT%
Fran Fraschilla infamously told everyone that Bruon Caboclo was “two years away from being two years away” when he was drafted by the Raptors. Fortunately for Memphis, they signed him five years after he was drafted. Therefore, he should be ready for the NBA game.
Caboclo had career-highs in every relevant fantasy category for the Grizzlies as he was able to play big minutes for the first time in his career. He averaged 23.5 mpg in 34 games, even starting 19 of those contests.
If Fraschilla was right and Caboclo is finally ready to produce like we saw in his stint with the Grizzlies, then the Grizzlies will reap the rewards of the Raptors’ former draft pick. The 23-year old Brazilian is worth adding to your watch list and has the potential to emerge as a sleeper thanks to his versatile game.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 318/310 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 348/340 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 53
2018-19 averages: 53 G | 16.2 MP | 6.4 PTS | 1.3 3PM | 1.8 REB | 0.7 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.3 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .360 FG% | .828 FT%
Miles was one of the players the Grizzlies received in the Marc Gasol trade. The trade to Memphis did allow Miles to play more minutes and have a bigger role within the offense but he was still used as a role player who can hit a couple of threes a game.
As he enters his 15th NBA season, Miles will continue to have a role off the bench for the team but will not become anything greater than what we have seen thus far throughout his career. Continue to see him as an average source of threes for his position with a solid FT% and low turnover rate. He won’t contribute much outside of those areas.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 358/356 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 411/415 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 48
2018-19 averages: 48 G | 14.5 MP | 6.2 PTS | 0.9 3PM | 2.4 REB | 1.2 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.0 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .405 FG% | .623 FT%
Tyler Dorsey was acquired at the deadline from the Hawks as the opportunity evaporated for him when they drafted Trae Young as the point guard of the future. The same may happen for Dorsey in Memphis as the Grizzlies are rumored to draft a point guard with their second overall selection in June.
Dorsey will have plenty of competition as the backup point guard for the Grizzlies and doesn’t stand a chance if the team decides to keep veteran Mike Conley Jr.. If he is somehow able to come away with the job on the Grizzlies or another team, he may become relevant in 30-team leagues. Otherwise, he can be ignored for fantasy purposes.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 327/339 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 376/385 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 25
2018-19 averages: 25 G | 19.8 MP | 7.5 PTS | 1.2 3PM | 2.8 REB | 1.7 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .374 FG% | .880 FT%
Chandler Parsons has only played in 95 games total over the past three seasons combined. He is projected to be the 36th-highest paid player next season. It is quite obvious that the contract hasn’t worked out for the Grizzlies. Luckily, it can be used as an asset this season as Parsons is now on an expiring deal.
Even when Parsons was healthy, he still didn’t prove worthy of the contract . He was able to play in 21 of the Grizzlies’ last 22 games and ranked 241/272 in 8/9-cat leagues in that stretch.
Even if Parsons is able to get healthy for a full season (unlikely), he only has value in 30-team leagues. Injuries derailed a career that at one time was looking very bright.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 287/287 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 218/225 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 42
2018-19 averages: 42 G | 16.5 MP | 7.1 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 5.7 REB | 2.1 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.7 BLK | 1.2 TOV | .516 FG% | .716 FT%
Joakim Noah played 42 games for the Memphis Grizzlies last season and averaged 16.5 minutes a night. That should be a signifier that the team was not very competitive last season, as Noah hasn’t played for a winning team since he left the Bulls in 2016.
When Gasol was traded at the deadline, the Grizzlies started giving Noah opportunity and the big man responded with averages of 11.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.0 blocks per game. It seems like Noah can still put up average numbers if he gets the chancem even though it is clear that the center’s best days are behind him.
Noah is unlikely to repeat his fantasy numbers from last season.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 348/354 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 369/380 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 39
2018-19 averages: 39 G | 14.8 MP | 4.4 PTS | 0.9 3PM | 1.7 REB | 1.8 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.3 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .303 FG% | .813 FT%
Jevon Carter had some nice moments as a rookie guard for the Grizzlies. He will likely become a solid defensive guard who will come off the bench for a long time to come. However, his fantasy outlook doesn’t look bright in his second season. Expect a slight bump in his value but don’t expect him to be on the radar beyond 30-team leagues.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 314/308 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 317/313 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 49
2018-19 averages: 49 G | 14.7 MP | 5.8 PTS | 0.1 3PM | 4.2 REB | 1.1 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.3 BLK | 0.7 TOV | .547 FG% | .710 FT%
Ivan Rabb’s sophomore season was almost identical to his rookie campaign, though his averages did increase after the Gasol trade. In the 26 games that Rabb played in after Gasol was traded, he averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.4 blocks in 20.5 minutes. Although his numbers are still marginal, he showed signs of improvement with more opportunity.
He is currently an athletic big who has not yet earned the opportunity to play big minutes. He may earn that opportunity this season as the Grizzlies will be looking to play their young talent in order to see what they have. Rabb could become fantasy viable in standard leagues in the years to come as he is still just 21 years old. Don’t expect it to happen this season, though.
ADP: NA/140 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 411/416 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 371/399 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 18
2018-19 averages: 18 G | 18.3 MP | 7.5 PTS | 0.8 3PM | 1.7 REB | 0.9 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.1 TOV | .402 FG% | .733 FT%
The Grizzlies were very high on Dillon Brooks after a solid rookie campaign where he played in all 82 games. Unfortunately, he was hit by the injury bug in his sophomore season as he missed 21 games with a Grade 2 MCL sprain and missed 42 games with a torn ligament in his right big toe. It was reported that he is expected to make a full recovery and will be ready for training camp.
In 2017-18, Brooks was able to provide 154/172 total value in 8/9-cat leagues. If he is able to have a clean bill of health entering next season, don’t forget to consider Brooks as a deep-league sleeper.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 451/446 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 308/295 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 6
2018-19 averages: 6 G | 15.5 MP | 7.7 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 4.0 REB | 0.7 AST | 0.2 STL | 0.5 BLK | 0.7 TOV | .533 FG% | .778 FT%
Tyler Zeller played in two games with the Hawks on a 10-day contract after being waived by the Bucks at the start of the season. He was signed by the Grizzlies for the last week of the season and even started a game.
Zeller could be a desperation streaming candidate if he got the opportunity to play upwards of 25 minutes per game. However, it is extremely unlikely he will earn a role large enough for him to be on the fantasy radar.
With the second overall pick in the upcoming draft to pair next to JJJ, we can already get a sense that the Grizzlies are in good hands going forward. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be tough decisions that the front office have to make this offseason that will determine how long it will take this team to turn it around.
It is likely that they will draft Murray State standout Ja Morant. They will likely fill out the starting lineup with a couple veterans as well as other youthful talent. Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, and Jonas Valanciunas may fill out the starting lineup as they head into the franchise’s next era.
How long will it take the Grizzlies to get back to the playoffs? It will be determined based on the decisions that the front office makes this offseason.