“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
― T.S. Eliot
(Note: all data thru games of 3/29/15)
I did not like the Memphis Grizzlies chances before the season. Specifically, I wrote:
“The big question for Memphis is whether the last two years were the last, best shot for their current core group. Marc Gasol might be on the way out as a free agent this coming offseason. Their two best per minute players for last season (Mike Miller and James Johnson) are gone. Zach, Tayshaun and Tony are all on the wrong side of 30.”
I was worried about age, about the lack of a superstar and about an evil Western Conference.
They seemed to be on a mission to prove me wrong in the first month of the season.
With a Net Rating of almost nine points per 100 possessions (a mark that equates to winnining almost 8 out of 10 games), the Grizzlies looked to be an elite team. Since then though?
That’s a +1.5 rating a mark that’s barely above .500. It’s even worse if I look post all-star break:
A -2.1 Rating is the mark of a below .500 team. You can see it clearly if I tabulate their power rankings over time.
The Memphis Grizzlies are in a tailspin. The big question is why. Let’s look at the three critical periods (thru 11/30/2014, since 12/01/2014 and since the All Star Break) on a player basis using the dashboard for the answers:
To start the season, Marc Gasol was having a career season (+3.3 point margin per 48) . The top five for Memphis (Gasol, Conley, Zbo, Lee and Tony Allen) were an utter wrecking ball together. The big thing to see is that Conley, Gasol and Lee were plus offensive players. That was about to change,
While Zbo and Allen have remained about the same as they were, since december, Gasol, Conley and Lee have all seen a large collapse. Marc has remained a plus offensive and defensive player but is nowhere near the MVP discussion as he was early in the season. Conley has been banged up and has played like an average point guard.
Courtney Lee however is the key. He’s their best three point shooter and ,when healthy, gives them range and floor spacing without sacrificing defense.
The trend is not positive though.
Since the All Star Break, Gasol has gone into a swoon and Lee has only gotten more banged up. Predictably, the offense for the Grizzlies has gone in the crapper.
At this point, the Grizzlies are the worst thing one could be in the West: one-dimensional. Without effective range, teams can just follow the roadmap laid out by the Spurs in the 2013 conference finals and deny the Grizzlies the paint.
Can they turn this around? Given that the problem seems to be one of health, if they had the space to rest guys like Conley, Lee and Gasol perhaps. The problem is that the Spurs, Rockets and Clippers are charging. It’s looking more like they won’t be able to rest their players and they’ll lose enough games to lose the division and fall to the 6 seed.
I’m sorry Memphis but I’m writing you off.