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Vegas Win Total Projection: 51.5 (VegasInsider.com)
The Memphis Grizzlies are a team everyone overlooks coming into almost every season. Last season, they ended up winning 55 games and winning a 1st round playoff series against a beaten up Trailblazers team. This season, they add Matt Barnes and Brandan Wright to an already deep roster. With Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and company, they've got a great, underrated team. Matt Barnes add more grit to an already tough team, I figure they'll play their way into a 3rd, 4th, or 5th seed in the West. I don't see much of a drop-off or increase in this team. They will continue to play well under coach Dave Joerger and have a tough run in against their Southwestern division teams with the likes of the Spurs, Pelicans, Rockets, and Mavericks in that division.
Top Fantasy Options
Fresh off of a new contract, Marc Gasol will be your fantasy guy. Averaging close to 20 and 10 last season, Gasol should have another stellar year. The Grizzlies will be relying on Gasol to make up most of their put-backs, in-paint points, and assists out of the painted area. He's one of the best bigs in the league when it comes to passing, which will help for assists and points in your fantasy plays. As far as value, he'll probably be a consistently high-price tag, but that price will be justified fairly with the amount of minutes, consistently good statistics at the center position. The good thing with Gasol in fantasy is the Grizzlies are rarely winning by large margins as their defense is good and offense is sub-par. This means that he'll be in the games for a longer period of time then say a Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan would be in some blow-outs.
I think Zach Randolph has consistently been a good player for this Grizzlies team. Last season in the playoffs, I saw a little drop-off of his play and would be worried because of the general price he will be in fantasy. Z-Bo, is a good player, but sometimes loses in the stat categories and sometimes disappears on offense against better opponents. I saw some signs of wear and tear, and at 34 years old, rightfully so. I have a feeling he could be on the decline, so I'd be cautious in the upcoming season about picking Zach.
Mike Conley is the obvious choice here. He is always left out of the top players of the league conversation, yet he continues to consistently produce as a past first point-guard. He can shoot, pass, and play great defense. He's a guy I think is extremely undervalued in fantasy and as a player. A lot of the times, defenders get left out of the fantasy conversation and for good reason, they don't capture points as well as an offensive player. But in Conley's circumstance, he does both consistently well. I think he's the second best option on the team and wouldn't be surprised to see him emerge as the first option later on in the season.
This team will stay consistent with their numbers, statistics, and team play. I expect to see them mid-pack in offensive statistics and in defense among the best in the league. I expect to see them around that 50 win mark this season, I think they probably end up in the 4 to 5 seed, although 3 or 6 isn't out of the question based on the competition and difference between those seeds. The “Grindhouse" will continue to be that, a team that plays hard-nosed defense to grind out results. As for fantasy, keep in mind that their starters as a whole should play more minutes in more games because of how many games they play "close". I spoke earlier on the topic, but because they don't put up many points as an offense, don't allow many on defense, they are consistently in a lot of games till the very end.