Memphis Grizzlies season preview: Player projections

So far in this Memphis Grizzlies three-part season preview, we’ve taken a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Grizzlies’ roster [Memphis Grizzlies season preview: Roster analysis] and how the team could fare in the Southeast Division and the Western Conference this season [Memphis Grizzlies season preview: Team projections]. In this article, we’ll take a look at key individual players on the team and project what kind of numbers they might put up this season.
Starting Five
PG: Mike Conley, Jr.
2013-14: 17.2 PPG (career-high), 6.0 APG & 1.5 SPG
2014-15 projections: 16.5 PPG, 8.0 APG, 2.0 SPG
Conley saw his role on the offense increase last season, having to shoulder some of the scoring load due to the lack of a solid perimeter scorer on the roster. As a result, he averaged career highs in points per game and field goal percentage (45%) last season. Expect Conley to continue to be a leading scorer on the team, although his points per game average will be reduced slightly due to the additio

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Flamengo vs. Memphis Grizzlies 10/17/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Memphis Grizzlies took on Brazilian side Flamengo in a preseason clash on Friday night. The Grizzlies’ fearsome front court of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph looked to control the game, but faced a tough test from the Brazilian powerhouses.

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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder 10/14/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Oklahoma City Thunder looked to find a rhythm in Tuesday’s preseason clash with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder had dropped one of their two preseason games heading into Tuesday’s matchup, and they faced a tough test from the stingy Grizzlies.

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Atlanta Hawks vs. Memphis Grizzlies 10/11/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies squared off in a clash of conflicting styles of play in Saturday’s preseason matchup. The Hawks brought a high-tempo, three-point-oriented offense, but they faced a stern test from a grinding Grizzlies offense that loved to work in the paint through forwards Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Houston Rockets 10/9/14: Video Highlights and Recap

Two of the NBA‘s best teams squared off in a preseason clash on Thursday night when the Houston Rockets met the Memphis Grizzlies.

Both teams have playoff aspirations, and with plenty of star power courtesy of the Rockets’ James Harden and Dwight Howard and the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, this preseason matchup lived up to the hype. 

Watch the video for full highlights.

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Harden leads Rockets over Memphis as Howard sits (Yahoo Sports)

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 9: Ish Smith #5 of the Houston Rockets drives to the basket against the Memphis Grizzlies during the game on October 9, 2014 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored 21 points to lead the Houston Rockets to a 113-93 preseason victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night.

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Memphis Grizzlies Will Give Away Flip-Flops vs. Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers are known around the league for flopping, with superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin the most notable offenders. 

So when the Clippers come to Memphis on Feb. 27, 2015, the Grizzlies will have a special treat for fans. 

According to the team, Grizzlies Flip-Flops will be handed out to the first 5,000 fans to show up to FedEx Forum on that Friday night. 

This isn’t just a promotion on a whim; this goes back to the face-offs of the 2012 and 2013 Western Conference Playoffs, where each team took a series win. During these playoff series, a rivalry was born with the Grizzlies constantly frustrated with the Clippers’ flopping tactics

It seems the Grizzlies have some ground to stand on, as we’ve found plenty of evidence to support the Clippers’ love of flopping.

Chris Paul deserves an Oscar for this one: 

For a man who weighs about 250 lbs, Blake Griffin goes down quite easily here: 

So good on you Grizzlies; way to have a great sense of humor.  

[YouTube, ProBasketballTalk]

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Can Michael Beasley Carve out a Real Role with the Memphis Grizzlies?

The Memphis Grizzlies need a lot of the things Michael Beasley brings inside the lines.

The former No. 2 pick has a steady scoring touch, a brimming bag of offensive tricks and the ability to stretch the floor from either forward spot. If everything goes according to plan, he could find his niche as a microwave scorer on the second team or maybe even something more substantial.

Of course, nothing ever seems to follow the script when it comes to Beasley. If it did, he might be in the middle of a long, lucrative contract right now instead of clinging to the life preserver Memphis tossed him Tuesday, as Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported:

Free-agent forward Michael Beasley has agreed to join the Memphis Grizzlies in training camp on a non-guaranteed contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Beasley spent several days working out for the Grizzlies this week and chose that offer because of an opportunity to make the roster as a backup power forward.

To land a player with Beasley’s talent on a non-guaranteed deal should be grand larceny.

Yet, his track record keeps the basketball world from seeing it as such. Despite the minimal risk on Memphis’ side, some still aren’t convinced that he will be worth the trouble.

“If he wasn’t, you know, Michael Beasley, this would be a pretty great pickup,” wrote CBS Sports’ Matt Moore. “It costs them nothing, and with a locker room as sound as theirs, there’s a chance…a small, dim, fading, desperate chance…that this could actually work.”

Have expectations really fallen that far for a player who left Kansas State in 2008 with, as’s Borko Popic put it, “few doubts about him becoming a bigtime impact talent at the next level”?

Well, yes, they have, and Beasley has often seemed to pull them down himself.

As Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic detailed last Septemberwhen the Phoenix Suns waived Beasley only one season in to a three-year, $18 million contract—Beasley’s off-court issues included multiple run-ins with the law:

In mid-May, Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and newly hired General Manager Ryan McDonough met with Michael Beasley to lay out expectations for the summer.

Beasley could not last three months before he let the Suns down again. His on-court regression might have been enough to cut ties but an early August arrest for marijuana possession in his car was intolerable.


Beasley was previously under Scottsdale police’s investigation for a sexual assault accusation during the season. Two weeks later, he was cited for speeding, driving on a suspended license and driving without a license plate or registration.

To make matters worse, his stat sheet has rarely reflected his skill set. His numbers have often hovered around average, occasionally rising above the mark but sometimes slipping below it.

Last season was one of his most efficient, yet he logged a career-low 15.1 minutes a night during his second tour of duty with the Miami Heat. He didn’t even have a rotation spot during Miami’s playoff run, as 17 of his 23 postseason minutes came in Game 5 of the NBA Finals—when coach Erik Spoelstra was looking for any kind of spark in the face of a 3-1 series deficit.

The Heat opted against bringing him back for several reasons, a source told Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, including, “inconsistency, lack of trust in his defense…and maturity/focus issues.”

In other words, Beasley brings baggage, enough of it that his signing raised eyebrows not for the fact that a former top prospect had to take a deal sans guaranteed cash, but rather that another team was willing to take that gamble.

At some point, franchises will stop crossing their fingers and hoping he somehow figures it out. But that time isn’t now for the 25-year-old forward.

“General managers are fond of saying, ‘If a player hasn’t made it by age 25 or 26, there’s a reason he hasn’t made it,’” wrote Grantland’s Zach Lowe.

“That phrase is correct for most of the minimum bin, but it also shows a failure of imagination,” Lowe continued. “Teams that define players by what they can’t do risk overlooking plus NBA skills attached to unformed all-around players.”

It’s about emphasizing strengths over weaknesses, finding where a player can help instead of focusing on where they struggle.

Not every player can be a two-way force. Most of them aren’t. The league is littered with specialists, and Beasley has enough in his offensive arsenal to provide a scoring spark for a Grizzlies team that needs one.

Beasley’s 18.9 points per 36 minutes ranked 47th in the league last season (minimum 25 games played), slotting him ahead of Grizzlies’ stars Mike Conley (18.5, 58th), Zach Randolph (18.3, 63rd) and Marc Gasol (15.7, 133rd).

Memphis tied for 16th in offensive efficiency, and while this team is built to win games at the other end of the floor, it needs a better balance to truly challenge the NBA’s elites. This offense needs more spacers to open up driving lanes and relieve some congestion on the interior, and Beasley could give them more shooting where they need it most:

Beasley could also help bolster a Memphis’ perimeter that still needs help despite receiving some badly needed attention this offseason.

The Grizzlies got just 14.9 points a night last season out of their small forwards, via, which tied the Los Angeles Clippers for the fewest in the league. Starter Tayshaun Prince posted a career-worst 8.2 player efficiency ranking, but he still played more than 25 minutes per game.

The position should be deeper this season with the return of Quincy Pondexter and the addition of Vince Carter. But Pondexter might have plenty of rust after missing all but 15 games to a foot fracture in 2013-14, and Carter will turn 38 in January.

Beasley might not be a certainty, but these players really aren’t, either. And none of them possess the same array of scoring tools from inside and out.

There is a value in what he brings, particularly for this team, and if this no-nonsense locker room somehow taps deeper into his potential, Beasley could be a steal. Between his physical gifts and his basketball talent, he has enough to keep people believing in him.

“I’ve always been on Beas as far as being a two-way player,” Heat center Chris Bosh told’s Jeff Caplan. “He needs to play defense and offense. It’s something you’re really not taught early on in your career. But I think for him, just with his athleticism and strength, he can be a phenomenal two-way player.”

Beasley is running short on opportunities, but the Grizzlies gave him a great one to fill an impact role for themif he’s willing to put in the work needed to hold such a spot.

He quieted the off-court noise last season, but it was concerning to hear that Miami still worried about his maturity and focus. Especially after Beasley said he had put those issues behind him.

“My first time around, I was a knucklehead,” Beasley told Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick last October. “… This time around, I’m just trying to be more part of the team and more part of the community and more part of Miami Heat culture.”

Judging by the end result, Beasley’s effort was better but still not good enough.

If he doesn’t bring the best out of himself sooner than later, he won’t have the chance to play a significant role—for the Grizzlies or anyone else. But Memphis will be glad to take what he can give if this winds up being the year when everything finally clicks.


Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of and

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College basketball countdown: No. 33 Memphis

USA TODAY Sports breaks down the projected NCAA tournament field of 68.



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NCAA basketball countdown: No. 33 Memphis

USA TODAY Sports breaks down the projected NCAA tournament field of 68.



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