Does anyone remember the Memphis Grizzlies of yesteryear? I’ll admit, I forget sometimes that Memphis possesses an NBA franchise to start.
The Grizzlies that I remember had a team that featured players such as Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, and Mike Conley, Jr. Always the middle of the pack in the Western Conference, only getting as high as the 4th seed in the West back in 2011-12. The next year? They made the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, being swept in four games. Following years of treading water among the elite in the West (Golden State, San Antonio, Houston, and I’ll even throw the OKC Thunder in the mix as well) – the Grizzlies crashed to a 22-60 record by 2017-18, and the core that lead the Grizzlies to success was starting to get stale. The patchwork of a roster put together by General Manager Chris Wallace looked goofy the next season, featuring a bunch of dudes who made no sense together. I mean, check it out:
Enter this season, and Memphis has drafted upstart “Point Guard of the Future” in Ja Morant, who has replaced Mike Conley, Jr. as the face of the franchise.Also add in small forward Brandon Clarke from a trade with the Thunder, a resurgent shooting guard in Dillon Brooks, a promising post player in Jaren Jackson, Jr, and now a great defense in Justise Winslow, and you have yourself one of the youngest, most dynamic cores starting to form in the NBA. Just now, the Grizzlies add Dion Waiters to the mix along with James Johnson in the Iguodala move. And it’s remotely possible that we may be seeing them in the postseason. Maybe still a year or two away from seriously contending, but they have all the right pieces.
Personally, I feel as though in the NBA, this is the right way to build a team – not by opening up your pocketbooks – but by taking chances on young players. How long will this core last? And will future free agents take notice at what’s building east of the Mississippi and join the next up and coming team in the league?
Andre Iguodala wanted out of Memphis? Seems odd. From an outsiders point of view – what a great thing that they are building. I may not be a fan of the Grizz, but I think they may become the next bandwagon that many young NBA fans will hop on. -WGL