A new era of Memphis Grizzlies basketball begins on October 23rd when they begin the 2019 season. With the Grit-and-Grind era officially in the rearview mirror, the Grizzlies and the city of Memphis look toward a new, bright future.
The Grizzlies had perhaps the greatest offseason in franchise history, and in doing so, have established a great young foundation to build upon. Setting expectations for 2019 will be a bit tricky, though.
Memphis Grizzlies 2019 Season Preview
Reviewing the 2018 Season
The Grizzlies had a subpar 2018 season, but for a rebuilding team, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Memphis finished the season with a 33-49 record, good enough for 12th place in the West.
Of course, there were a few high-points of the season, notably watching the progression of young star Jaren Jackson Jr. Unfortunately, the 2018 season also saw the final appearances of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol in Grizzlies uniforms. The Grizzlies traded Gasol to the Toronto Raptors near the trade deadline in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas (who then signed an extension in the offseason) and sent Conley to the Utah Jazz prior to the draft.
Overall, the season was merely a primer for the future to come.
Despite trading away two of the greatest players in franchise history, the Grizzlies had a stellar off-season, and it all started with the NBA Draft.
The Grizzlies were awarded the second-overall pick and selected Murray State superstar Ja Morant. Then, with a pick received in the Conley trade, they selected Brandon Clarke late in the first round. Morant is already viewed as the future of the franchise as he develops alongside Jackson, while Clarke adds even more talent and potential leadership to one of the youngest cores in the NBA.
Then, the front office made some of their best moves in recent history.
Biggest of all, the Grizzlies dumped the horrendous Chandler Parsons contract, which had long served as a virtual black hole in the Grizzlies’ cap. Then, they acquired pieces such as former Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, Tyus Jones, Josh Jackson, and Dwight Howard. Howard has since been waived and has joined the Los Angeles Lakers, and it seems unlikely Iguodala will play in Memphis, but the acquisitions demonstrated the aggressive nature of the new front office, while simultaneously creating cap space for future deals.
The moves made in the offseason set the tone for the future of the franchise. They signaled that the front office is all-in on the young core, and are willing to make as many moves as possible to improve the team in any given area. The Grizzlies are far from being world-beaters and title contenders, but they could be on their way.
The 2019 Memphis Grizzlies may not even be as good as the subpar 2018 Memphis Grizzlies. But that’s part of the process. Then again, they could have one of their better seasons in recent memory.
Setting expectations for the 2019 season is no easy feat. The goal of the season will simply be to work together as a team and develop chemistry between the young stars. However, that can be a tough measuring stick to evaluate success.
A playoff run would feel like a minor miracle, but another season in the gutter would be discouraging. Somewhere in-between, perhaps, is where the Grizzlies should aim to be. If the young core can flirt with playoff contention so early in the process, hopes would surely soar in Memphis. Even if they fall short of contention, simply competing with playoff teams could be a mark for success.
Morant and Jackson could very well blossom into one of the best duos in the NBA one day, but patience is key to developing a championship roster and culture. Rome wasn’t built in a day, though it did have a genesis.
Memphis Grizzlies 2019 Season Prediction
Predicting the successes of the Grizzlies is as impossible as setting the expectations for the season. Morant could realistically compete for Rookie of the Year, or he could struggle with his transition due to his size. Jackson could make the leap to fringe All-Star, or he could slightly regress in his sophomore season. The season is truly up in the air.
However, standards and predictions must ultimately be set. There is no reason to believe the Grizzlies can’t be a fun team to watch, and a team that makes some noise toward the bottom of the West. They won 33 games a season ago, and should undoubtedly duplicate that success, even with a younger, less experienced team. The playoffs are likely still out of the picture for at least a few more seasons, but moving up from 12th in the West is far from impossible.
No matter how the team performs in the standings, the most important facet of the 2019 season will be development. The future in Memphis is perhaps as bright as it has ever been, but the team has to take the first steps toward that future this season.
Memphis Grizzlies 2019 Season Prediction: 35-47, 11th in the West
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