I. Season Recap
The 2002-2003 season was a roller coaster ride for the Memphis Grizzlies and all of their fans. The team went through 2 coaches, multiple injuries and just missing the sure landing of a future star in Carmello Anthony or Darko Milicic. Despite these downs though, there were many positives on the season. This was
Jerry West's first whole season as the team GM and he did bring a lot of excitement with him. Fans were very enthusiastic all season, and he also attracted a lot of out of state attention as well. Jerry West, in typical Jerry West fashion found a coach more to his liking and hired
Hubie Brown out of retirement after the team lost 13 straight. All Jerry got from this move was praise, and the team showed flashes of greatness under him. They became a tough defensive squad under the old school Brown. Every game the Grizz gave it all they had and played hard every minute of every game. Although they finished 28-54, the league took notice of how dangerous they could be under Hubie Brown. This team is definitely turning it around. Their final record of 28-54 was a franchise record high. Although West did make one questionable trade this season (Drew Gooden and Gordan Giricek for Mike Miller and Ryan Humphrey), he is still regarded as the franchise's savior. They still have a lot of talent, but a few glaring holes need to be addressed before they plan on crawling out of the lottery.
II Current Team Roster and Stats
No Player Pos Ht Wt B-day College Exp
1 Wesley Person ......... G-F 6-6 200 3/28/71 Auburn'94 8
2 Jason Williams ........ G 6-1 190 11/18/75 Florida'98 4
4 Stromile Swift ........ F 6-10 220 11/21/79 LSU'02 2
8 Michael Dickerson ..... G 6-4 190 6/25/75 Arizona'98 4
15 Cezary Trybanski ...... F-C 7-2 240 9/22/79 Poland R
16 Pau Gasol ............. F 7-0 227 7/6/80 Spain 1
20 Chris Owens ........... F 6-7 237 3/1/79 Texas'02 R-2
21 Robert Archibald ...... C 6-10 250 3/29/80 Illinois'02 R-2
22 Brevin Knight ......... G 5-10 170 11/8/75 Stanford'97 5
24 Mike Batiste .......... F 6-8 225 11/21/77 Arizona State'99 R
25 Earl Watson ........... G 6-1 190 6/12/79 UCLA'01 1
31 Shane Battier ......... F 6-8 229 9/9/78 Duke'01 1
33 Mike Miller ........... F 6-8 218 2/19/80 Florida'02 2
40 Ryan Humphrey ......... F 6-8 235 7/24/79 Notre Dame'02 R-1
42 Lorenzen Wright ....... F-C 6-11 240 11/4/75 Memphis'98 6
The Grizzlies have the 7th highest payroll in the league.
Memphis Grizzlies Total: $61,009,168
Bryant Reeves .............. $12,999,998 [retired]
Wesley Person .............. $7,000,000
Lorenzen Wright ............ $6,050,000
Michael Dickerson .......... $5,500,000
Jason Williams ............. $5,500,000
Brevin Knight .............. $5,000,000
Stromile Swift ............. $3,639,000
Pau Gasol .................. $3,193,680
Mike Miller ................ $2,668,080
Shane Battier .............. $2,368,200
Tony Massenburg ............ $1,800,000 [released]
Cezary Trybanski ........... $1,500,000
Gordan Giricek ............. $1,400,000
Earl Watson ................ $1,215,000
Ryan Humphrey .............. $1,063,680
Robert Archibald ........... $349,458 [minimum]
Mike Batiste ............... $349,458 [minimum]
Chris Owens ................ $349,458 [minimum]
The lack of cap room for the Grizzlies is not encouraging, but many moves are going to be made.
Memphis Grizzlies Date # of total
Robert Archibald ...... 7/2/02 1 minimum '03
Mike Batiste .......... 10/30/02 1 minimum '03
Cory Bradford ......... 9/29/02 1 minimum '03
Tang Hamilton ......... 9/29/02 1 minimum '03
Chris Owens ........... 7/10/02 1 minimum '03
Brevin Knight ......... 7/7/97,11/1/99 3+4 $3,275,000+$20,180,000 '04
Mike Miller ........... 8/11/00 4 $10,862,697 rc '04
Wesley Person ......... 10/29/97 7 $39.9 million '04
Stromile Swift ........ 7/18/00 4 $14,797,338 rc '04
Shane Battier ......... 8/24/01 4 $10,317,122 rc t-opt '05
Pau Gasol ............. 9/18/01 4 $13,899,521 rc t-opt '05
Cezary Trybanski ...... 7/22/02 3 $4.8 million '05
Earl Watson ........... 7/19/02 3 $3.96 million '05
Ryan Humphrey ......... 8/9/02 4 $5,313,866 rc t-opt '06
Lorenzen Wright ....... 8/8/99 7 $42 million '06
Michael Dickerson ..... 1/21/99,10/30/01 4+6 $5,615,582+$45 mill '08
Jason Williams ........ 1/22/99,10/17/01 4+6 $8,193,832+$45 mill '08
Bryant Reeves contract is off the books, and Memphis only has to decide on 5 minimum salary free agents this summer.
If it seems as if almost every player on the Grizzlies is over paid you are not mistaken. Wesley Person making 39.9 million over 7 years is a joke. Michael Dickerson and Lorenzen Wright are both overpaid as well. Expect at least one of these 3 to be traded away. I doubt they will bring much return value, but just getting their contracts off the books will help Jerry West be more flexible.
I'm not so sure if all the talk about Kobe coming to Memphis has any truth in it, but there are going to be a lot of prime time players available over the next couple of seasons. Kevin Garnett comes to mind.
III. Player Breakdown
Jason Williams 6'1 G Florida
Probably the most scrutinized player to play in the last 5 years. Either you are a fan of White Chocolate, or you're not. But what's not to love? He is charismatic, fun to watch and spontaneous. Anything is possible when J-Will has the ball, and that's what the fans love. There is no doubt, he is an exciting playmaker. He demands your attention when he's on the court, and that is very rare. He catches a lot of heat from basketball nuts everywhere because of the way he plays. They all say he turns over the ball way too much and isn't the guy you want running your offense. Yet no matter what he does, he can't shake his rep of being a glory hog who isn't interested in winning. It went almost unnoticed that he averaged 8 assists a game and had a really good assist/t.o. ratio. I think Jerry West likes him, and Hubie Brown sees potential in him. His FG % and shot selection is still pretty bad, and his defense is non existent. If Hubie can teach J-Will how to lockdown other point guards, Jason will be a monster of a point guard. Throughout the season Jason looked better and better, and it looks like Hubie Brown is indeed turning J-Will into a more efficient player. If he keeps improving like he did this year, the basketball world will be forced to take notice.
Brevin Knight 5'10 Stanford
He will never be more than a backup point guard. With that being said, he can be a very effective backup. He is a team leader and a good floor general, but he just doesn't have the raw talent needed to run the Grizzlies offense. Earl Watson was stealing some of his time this year, and I really don't see his future being a bright one with the Grizzlies.
Earl Watson 6'1 UCLA
Somehow made it out of Seattle and found a home in Memphis. I'm not sure where he fits in on the depth chart, but he did get some valuable playing time this year. He looks like a good prospect and should be pretty valuable to the young squad.
Michael Dickerson 6'5 Arizona
Hasn't been healthy since he came into the league. He played in a measly 6 games this year, and it looks like he will never come back as the player he once was. Huge contract, no production. The Grizzlies would be wise to part ways with Dickerson.
Wesley Person 6'6 Auburn
Michael Dickerson and Wesley Person are in the same boat. They should be treated the same way to. Get rid of em says I. Wesley Person is one of the best pure shooters in the league, but he can't stay healthy.
Shane Battier 6'8 Duke
Versatile 2 year player out of Duke that has had no problem adjusting to the NBA. I'd imagine that Hubie has had no problems with Battier, he hustles plays tough D and has all the intangibles you could want in a player. The main problem however is that with the addition of Mike Miller there is a semi logjam at the Small Forward position. If Miller can't make the transition to full time SG, look for Battier to take over here.
Mike Miller 6'8 F Florida
The former Rookie of the Year has had an extremely tough time staying healthy, and has never fully recovered from back injuries. The rare glimpses you do get to see of him healthy though are impressive. Miller is a great shooter who has a knack for spotting up and can even score off the dribble. I have yet to see what he can do on defense because of the nagging back injuries. The trade that sent the 2002 1st round pick Drew Gooden and the sharpshooting Gordan Giricek has yet to bring in any reward, but Miller will provide instant offense. If he plays in enough games he could very well become the Grizzlies leading scorer.
Mike Batiste 6'8 F Arizona State
Pretty impressive as a rookie and held his own against some of the West's best. Got more time than a rookie should, but he looked pretty good in the time he played. His PT will most likely get cut back, but he should contribute.
Chris Owens 6'8 F Texas
Another rookie for the Grizzlies at the Forward position. He wont see too much time unless the Grizzlies swing a move to free up more space. There must be a reason that Jerry West has a forward loaded team.
Stromile Swift F 6'9 LSU
I'll go out on a limb and say that the next few seasons for the Grizzlies depend on what they do with Swift. He has unlimited talent and unlimited potential, but it just seems like he doesn't know what to do with it. He'll go from making a spectacular slam to letting his man go right by him. If Swift doesn't improve like he should, the Grizzlies should do all they can to send him away. If he plays how everyone in Memphis knows he can all the time, then he could be dangerous. He is a great shot-blocker with great jumping ability. He is a solid rebounder and knows how to use his size. If he could pull it all together it would help the Grizzlies in so many ways.
Ryan Humphrey F 6'8 Notre Dame
The Notre Dame rookie was sent over from Orlando and is still learning how to play in the NBA. I was high on him last year, and I don't think he will disappoint in the future. It will be interesting to see if he can contribute because he might have to.
Pau Gasol 7'0 F-C Spain
Pau Gasol is one of the leagues brightest young stars. He was the only player on the Grizzlies roster to play and start in all 82 games. Pau is the complete package. He can score with his back to the basket and facing up. He can rebound, he can swat shots. He is quick on his feet, and can get up and down the floor. Pau should be the building block of the franchise. He can play 3 positions, but he should not have to play center. Pau Gasol is NOT an NBA center. He is a twig, and will be more effective if he could play with a bigger guy. Gasol is one of the top 25 players in the league, but he needs to step up and lead the Grizzlies. He has to become the go to guy and leader of this ballclub if they intend to win more games then last year. He too is a former Rookie Of The Year, and he just keeps getting better and better. He needs to throw the team on his back, and carry them down the stretch in games.
Robert Archibald 6'10 F Illinois
He's a big rookie who needs to improve on the fundamentals. He's got an NBA body though, so he can definitely be worked with.
Lorenzen Wright 6'11 C Memphis
Lorenzen had a tough year. The death of his child caused him to miss games and to me it just seems like he wasn't all there. His shot blocking has dropped off a little bit, and he hasn't been scoring as much as he can. He plays good defense and rebounds very effectively, but I'm just not sure if you can be a .500 or better team with him as you're starting center. Lorenzen seems like more of a Power Forward, and when he goes against bigger guys, it shows. Look for Wright to rebound next year and put in a solid season.
Cezary Trybanski 7'2 C
The foreign big man has not seen a lot of action. Jerry West and Co. are extremely high on him however. They think he can be a solid NBA center.
IV. Draft Needs
The Grizzlies can use help at all positions. They could use another Point Guard if they insist on giving J-Will the boot. They definitely need a SG, Dickerson and Person just aren't getting it done for them. The forward spot is packed, but everyone on this team is so versatile that they have room at both slots. The center position can be looked at two ways. Trybanski is going to help out soon, so there is no need to get a center. Or you can look at it like this: Gasol can't play center, Wright is a power forward, and Trybanski can't contribute this soon.
V. Possible Selections
Brian Cook PF 6'10 240 Sr. Illinois
It was really tough to pass up on Cook because it is so rare to find a guy who can play inside and outside as well as Cook can. He has excellent range on his jumper, and shot a very high FG% and 3pt% in college. He reminds me a lot of a young Robert Horry, but I think his defense isn't as good as Big Shot Rob's. Cook can step in right away for any team. He's a great all around shooter who will cause match-up problems in the NBA.
Zoran Planinic 6'6 195 Croatia
Combo guard who is more efficient at the point. He is said to have good court vision and the smarts to run an NBA offense. He is a smart, heady player who doesn't do anything spectacularly well, but is solid in all aspects of the game. Seriously needs to bulk up before he can play in the NBA. Not so sure he'd be ready to be on an NBA roster yet.
Josh Howard G/F 6'6 203 Wake Forest
My "sleeper" pick of the draft. He was an outstanding college player at Wake Forest. This guy can do it all and do it all very well. It is a crime if he is not selected in the first round. He can shoot, rebound, and play defense all extremely well, and has the size and athleticism. Super tough to pass on, but I think Memphis will have already addressed their wing needs with the 13th pick.
VI. My selection
Marcus Banks 6'2 200 PG UNLV
Leading up to the draft his stock rose from a second round pick to a mid first round pick. Watched him play a couple times this year at UNLV and he couldn't be stopped. He is a GREAT scorer who doesn't need to shoot 35 times to get 30 points, he can shoot around 50 from the field. He is very explosive, kind of reminds me of Allen Iverson in a way, except that he doesn't shoot as much. He has super quick hands and will one day be a candidate for leading the league in steals. The biggest problem he has is that he forces the issue a little too much sometimes, and turns over the ball. Banks is the quick, scoring guard the Grizzlies could use coming off the bench or could use to start over J-Will. Banks is definitely ready to play in the NBA.
VII. What the Grizz will most likely do
If the Grizzlies don't get a guard with their first pick, look for them to address the need here. A combo guard is likely, but a scoring point like Banks would work too. Josh Howard is a likely pick here as well if they cannot pick up a big guy with their lottery pick.