Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 12:09 PM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Waiting for refill of Gasol

Grizzlies

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Memphis Grizzlies finish in the Southwest Division and the Western Conference? Get 10 takes from ESPN's NBA experts.

ANALYST COMMENT
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
Pau's likely out until January and Jerry West -- again -- is contemplating retirement at season's end. The Grizz, in other words, are dealing with the two scenarios they dread most.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 14
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
Memo to Brian Davis: If your purchase of the team goes through, see what you can get for Pau Gasol. He's already fulfilled his career goal of winning a World Championship for Spain. The Grizz are just his day job.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
How do you overcome the loss of Pau Gasol? Mike Fratello is capable of working wonders, but this is a difficult struggle until Gasol comes back. If the Grizzlies make the playoffs, Fratello should get coach of the year.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
With Gasol injured, their season rests upon the rapid evolution of youngsters Hakim Warrick, lottery pick Rudy Gay and underrated rookie Kyle Lowry.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 9
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
With Pau out until January, J-West should have retired at the end of last season, not this one coming up. With Stromile Swift back and Rudy Gay maybe getting ROY, the Grizz might be able to make a run … in 2008.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
Odds were stacked against Grizz even before Pau got hurt -- they traded their best defender, they lost two key free agents with no compensating acquisitions, their GM has one foot out the door and their backcourt's average age is about 75.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 14
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
Personnel setbacks and Gasol's broken foot mean the outlook isn't pretty. Still, some talented rookies and a brighter financial future mean this might be just a one-year vacation from the playoffs.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 14
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
Even if Pau Gasol weren't out until January they might not have made the playoffs again, but Gasol's absence and a lot of early road games assure a slow start, which will be deadly in the West this season.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
Have done it with smoke and mirrors the past few seasons, but can a bunch of role players keep winning 50? Not without Pau. If they somehow remain around .500 until Gasol returns, they'll have a shot at the playoffs again.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
I still think this is a team that could make the playoffs. Figuring out what to do on the front line opposite Pau can spur them back into contention.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 9
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 4.8 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 11.6 | Standings


Putting A Happy Face On Misfortune
Warrick and Miller
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
It's not why they're so jolly, but Pau Gasol's injury means bigger roles for Hakim Warrick and Mike Miller.


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
Damon Stoudamire
Point Guard
5-10 | 174
… is an aging point guard. Especially one who's 5-10.
Eddie Jones
Shooting Guard
6-6 | 200
The only thing worse than an aging shooting guard is … (see above)
Mike Miller
Small Forward
6-8 | 218
Sixth Man winner is default first option without Pau.
Stromile Swift
Power Forward
6-9 | 225
No, this is the year we see if he can play.
Jake Tsakalidis
Center
7-2 | 290
Because someone has to, that's why.
Bench: Rudy Gay aims to start, Dahntay Jones and Hakim Warrick aim for alley-oops, Chucky Atkins aims from deep and Brian Cardinal aims for his man's ribs.

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands October 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Jake Tsakalidis
Player efficiency rating
projection: 16.12
vs. NBA avg.: +1.12
Grizzlies profiles

Scouting report: At 7-2, 290 pounds, Tsakalidis is an immovable target in the lane, and he has a decent right-handed hook shot that he uses to finish from close range. He's at his best playing against other big centers, and for some reason has always played extremely well against Shaquille O'Neal -- last season he scored 10 points in 16 minutes against him.

His size is also an asset defensively against the right opponent, but he must be spotted carefully. Tsakalidis is ponderously slow, so he's of little use helping against pick-and-rolls and his speed in transition is another concern.

2006-07 outlook: Alright, Einstein, you think he'll shoot that well again? Me neither. Tsakalidis' career average isn't even 50 percent, let alone 60, so expect his field-goal percentage to do a boomerang this season. The rebound rate may hold up better, since it's much less fluky than field-goal percentage -- in other words, changes in this stat are more likely to result from a real shift in ability. Even so, the statistical projections are probably too rosy, and nobody will be shocked if Tsakalidis has trouble hanging on to his starting spot in the Memphis frontcourt.


Spain's Reign Of Pain
Gasol
Doug Benc/Getty Images
This figures to be a common sight. At least Pau Gasol's left foot was broken for a winning cause, as he took MVP honors for Spain in its World Championship run.


SportsNation Speaks
Hey, Spain, you owe us reparations, dude. While waiting for our gold doubloons, the Czar's deliberate brand of ball goes under the scrutiny of SportsNation.

The right approach, given Gasol's injury?
55.9% Think ''playoffs'' anyway
44.1% Play the youngsters, no matter what

Vote: Grizzlies in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Grizzlies

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Grizzlies' logo on your chest?

"Now introducing the Western Conference All-Stars, at center, 7-2, from the Memphis Grizzlies, Jake Tsakalidis!!!"

If I hear these words this season, there is no doubt that I would get a tattoo of the Grizzlies' logo on my chest.

You know what, if Big Jake makes the All-Star team this year, I will not only get the logo on my chest, but I will get "whiteboy" tattooed across my knuckles, a la former Grizzlies point guard Jason Williams.

Thomas McKee | Beale Street Beat



Coach's Corner

MIKE FRATELLO COACHING FILE
Experience: 16 years
Record: 661-524
Playoffs: 20-42
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

Mike Fratello has the difficult task of guiding his team in the early going without his franchise player, Pau Gasol.

His strategies might be completely different than they were last season, and change again when Gasol returns. The Grizzlies have the athletes now to go up-tempo, so Fratello needs to decide if he wants to go that route in Gasol's absence.

Fratello will have to push his guys really hard early to stay competitive, in hopes that a Gasol return will push them over the edge toward a playoff berth.

David Thorpe



Hollinger's Team Strength
Shooting. Whatever Memphis' other problems are, the Grizzlies should still be able to tear opponents apart from the perimeter. They aren't solely dependent on Gasol to create their 3-point chances either.

Both Eddie Jones and Mike Miller score a ton of points coming off pin-downs, turning and firing after the catch, while Stoudamire is a good off-the-dribble shooter. Atkins isn't as likely to create a shot but is deadly when left open, and Gay's high-arcing jumper should be a real weapon from the corners. Although Shane Battier is gone, reserve forward Brian Cardinal is an even better shooter and could take over some of those minutes if his knees are healthy.

The challenge will be creating some free throws out of all those jumpers. One reason Memphis' free-throw percentage was so poor was because Gasol was the one taking most of them -- nearly a third (29.7 percent) of the team's attempts on the season.

With him out of the lineup for two months, Memphis is likely to be at or near the bottom of the league in free-throw attempts, and that will make it incredibly tough for the Grizzlies to be a decent offensive team.

More Hollinger Grizzlies analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Miller
Miller

Sleeper: Mike Miller will have to be more than the best sixth man in the NBA this season. Because of Pau Gasol's foot surgery, the Grizzlies will have to account for his 20 points per game somehow. Why not Miller? He's a good shooter from everywhere, so he's a natural to take on more of the scoring load as he enters the prime of his career.

Bust: Eddie Jones just turned 35 and he's now at the point in his career where he hurts you much more than he helps you in fantasy. Sure, he still makes a bunch of threes and steals, but he's a detriment in nearly every other category. Even Gasol's absence won't make Jones more desirable.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index

 

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