Hot Take Marathon: Memphis Will Make the Playoffs
Grizzly Bear Blues
*The NBA offseason is cooling down, but the takes at OTG aren't. This month, we are hitting you with the Hot Take Marathon. Check back every day for a spicy NBA take!*
The Western Conference is going to be an absolute slugfest next season. Last season, only 3 wins separated the third seed Portland Trail Blazers (49 wins) and the ninth seed Denver Nuggets (46 wins). 2018-19 could see things get even tighter. Teams like the Nuggets, Lakers and Clippers all improved this offseason and have legitimate claims for the 2019 playoffs.
Another team who will be around that mark is the Memphis Grizzlies. On Howard Beck’s podcast, with guest Ric Bucher, they also brought up the reemergence of Memphis.
The Grizzlies bolstered their roster significantly in both the draft and in free agency. Jaren Jackson Jr. looks to be a ready-made NBA player if what he showed at Summer League is anything to go by.
Kyle Anderson and Garrett Temple give them some added depth and talent in different places. Temple provides much needed spacing and Anderson gives them a versatile, intelligent wing who can do a bit of everything on both ends of the floor.
Memphis won a paltry 22 games last season though that was in the absence of their best player for 70 games. With Mike Conley, the team started a healthy 7-5 before falling apart when injury befell him. The health of their cornerstone player is so important to not only their playoff hopes but relevancy as a franchise.
Recent reports say Conley should be ready by training camp after not doing much during Team U.S.A.’s minicamp. Per ESPN, he revealed,
"I'm doing really well. I wish I could've participated in contact stuff," Conley said. "I think I could, but we're being cautious and allowing me to get a full summer of rehab. I should be ready to go by training camp -- I expect to be ready."
Outside of DeMarcus Cousins, never has a recovery from an achilles injury been more important.
There are questions surrounding many of the fringe playoff teams in the West. Will locker room in-fighting bring down Minnesota? Are Denver ready to take the next jump into the top 8? And don’t even get me started on the Lakers. Their roster amalgamation outside of LeBron James and young prospects leaves a lot to be desired.
The Grizzlies were a playoff team just a year earlier with a fit and firing Mike Conley. Combine him with all the improvements the front office made this offseason, then there’s no reason why they can’t get back there after making the postseason for 7 consecutive years prior.