SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Chris Broussard ESPN Mag
|Playoffs not enough anymore -- but again, that's all they'll get.|
|Ric Bucher ESPN Mag
||Eddie Jones and Damon Stoudamire will make coach Mike Fratello's life infinitely easier than Jason Williams and Bonzi Wells did. Pau Gasol remains the Grizzlies' best player, but he still hasn't proven he can lead a team when it really matters.|
|John Carroll Scouts Inc.
||This will be a real test for Mike Fratello and his staff. They shook up the roster to get the type of players they truly wanted. Gasol needs to stay healthy and become a more aggressive and consistent player. He must be the go-to guy in crunch time.|
|Chad Ford ESPN Insider
||Not a fan of the moves Jerry West made this summer. They lost too much talent in the name of chemistry and budget cuts. Given how competitive the West is this season, the Grizzlies are going to take it on the chin.|
|John Hollinger ESPN Insider
||Treading water while Fratello and West lobby for a rule change that would require other teams to play without a center. Right now the other teams all have one, and Memphis doesn't.|
|Scoop Jackson ESPN.com
Bobby Jackson gives them that "gangsta" teams need to overachieve. Sleeper in the West.
|Tim Legler ESPN Insider
See Item 7 for Legler's analysis of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Eric Neel ESPN
|They'll defend, but will they score? Here's the key: play Hakim Warrick early and often.|
|Jim O'Brien ESPN Insider
||Mike Fratello loves to teach the game, and a full training camp will help Eddie Jones, Damon Stoudamire and Bobby Jackson get comfortable. The changes give the Grizzlies a chance for a good chemistry and a run at the playoffs.|
|Will Perdue ESPN Insider
||I like the additions of Eddie Jones and Bobby Jackson. But the Grizz play in what could possibly be the NBA's toughest division. With Minnesota's improvement, this team will probably be on the outside looking in when April arrives.|
|Chris Sheridan ESPN Insider
||Plenty of addition by subtraction went on here this summer, and the wisdom of Jerry West's acquisitions of Eddie Jones, Bobby Jackson and Damon Stoudamire was overlooked by many. Fratello will get 50 wins.|
|Marc Stein ESPN.com
||The Grizz seem to be a consensus pick to slip out of the West's top eight. But why? They're still short on quality size beyond Pau, but they'll be happier and savvier with Bobby Jackson, Eddie Jones and Damon Stoudamire.|
|Starters: Not one All-Star. But a lot of players who have been around.|
|Puts up points (17.8 ppg) but they're quiet points.||
|Great shooter, but Charmin inside. You know, soft.||
|Wanted an extension. West said no. Can you blame Jerry?||
|Got lost in Shaq/Flash show, but he will shine here.||
|Played well last season. So well, Portland let him go.||
|Bench: Bobby Jackson brings instant O. They hope Hakim Warrick (a summer league surprise) brings some D. Shane Battier? Yeah, we know, he's a great leader.||
ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands Oct. 26.
Player Efficiency Rating
League Avg: -0.16
Shane Battier is one of basketball's most underrated defensive players. He's fantastic from the help side, frequently racing over to take charges and often reaching in to poke balls away from drivers. Plus, although he's not an explosive leaper, he's big enough to block shots on occasion.On the ball, Battier's size allows him to contest shots, but his lack of quickness makes him vulnerable off the dribble. This is especially obvious when he defends high-scoring shooting guards, as he sometimes was asked to do last season. However, he's one of the league's smartest players and knows how to disguise his physical limitations. Overall, his Defensive PER was among the best in basketball, and Battier was this defense's most pivotal player. Offensively, he's a high efficiency, low volume player. Battier's favorite spot is the 3-pointer from the left corner, and he hit 39 percent of his 3s last season. He's not very smooth off the dribble, but at his size, he can convert shots around the basket. Battier did a better job of getting to the line last season, partly because of some clever shot fakes, and that helped improve his total shot percentage. However, he's become a bit too passive. Battier's usage rate is fairly low, and with the Grizzlies losing so much firepower in the offseason, they'll need him to step up and take a more active role.
We asked SportsNation to evaluate The Logo's busy offseason:
What's your take on West's moves?
47.0% Moves were just OK, team got older
31.0% Memphis should return to playoffs
22.0% Team is on its way back down
Getting Eddie Jones from Miami will instantly make the Grizz a better half-court defensive team. Bobby Jackson's arrival from Sacramento will make them a more explosive offensive team. First-round pick Hakim Warrick from Syracuse gives them a flat out stud athlete up-front to help offset the loss of Stromile Swift to the Rockets.
One big question facing Fratello is what to do with overrated point guard Damon Stoudamire. I would start Jackson and use Stoudamire as a change of pace guard off the bench. His defensive liabilities at the point should keep him to 15 minutes per game. If that's the case, Memphis will return to the playoffs.
Tim Legler, ESPN Insider
Experience: 15 years
Reg. season record: 612-495
Playoff record: 20-38
Mike Fratello is an excellent teacher of the game. Expect his first full training camp with the Grizzlies to pay early dividends if he can blend the new players that he and Jerry West brought to Memphis.
It generally takes some time even though Eddie Jones, Bobby Jackson and Damon Stoudamire are all seasoned.
Jim O'Brien, ESPN.com Insider
The Grizzlies made the playoffs in consecutive seasons despite a complete lack of size in the middle. Memphis had 6-foot-11, 240-pound Lorenzen Wright posing as a center, with even smaller Stromile Swift backing him up. Next to Wright was Gasol, another lightweight at 240 pounds, leaving the Grizzlies unable to nudge opposing big men out of the middle. Not surprisingly, Memphis has consistently been among the worst defensive rebounding teams in pro basketball -- the Griz were 26th last season, and that was their best mark in years.
This year shapes up as more of the same. The Grizzlies added another undersized big man in the draft -- 6-9, 219-pound waif Hakim Warrick -- and the departure of Swift means they won't be as deep, either.
If there's a solution available, it might be 7-2 center Jake Tsakalidis. The Grizzlies matched an offer sheet for Tsakalidis last summer but seemed to forget he was on the roster once the season began, as he played only 31 games. With no other credible backup center in sight, the Griz might have to turn to big Jake to restore order in the paint.
Although Memphis has managed to survive its rebounding woes the past two seasons, the Griz are unlikely to make it three in a row after seeing players like Earl Watson, James Posey, Stromile Swift, Bonzi Wells and Jason Williams depart.
Sleeper: Pau Gasol was a popular choice a year ago to break into the 20-10 stratosphere. He didn't do it and injuries cost him 26 games. The Grizzlies underwent a team facelift, and with a weak frontline, Gasol could see a boost in his scoring and rebounding. Fantasy owners love forwards who block shots. Don't let Gasol slip past your third-round pick.
Bust: Eddie Jones played his role next to Shaq in Miami last season, but a new role in Memphis doesn't mean big numbers. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect Jones, now 33, to get his scoring back into the 17-18 ppg range anytime soon. Jones is barely worth a top 100 pick these days, with his stats on the decline. Don't rely on him.
Eric Karabell | Fantasy Basketball Index