Memphis Grizzlies 2012-13 Season Preview

The Memphis Grizzlies had a very quiet off-season.  O.J. Mayo left.  Wayne Ellington, Jerryd Bayless, D.J. Kennedy and Tony Wroten appeared.  Marreese Speights was retained.  There was a slight re-positioning, but largely this off-season was about maintaining the status quo.

The Grizzlies have been on the outside looking in for the last couple years.  Two years ago they had a nice play-off run and struck fear into a lot of hearts.  This past off-season, the Clippers ousted them in the first round.  The Lakers and Clippers added talent.  Oklahoma City is young and only getting more seasoned.  Have the Grizzlies done anything to keep pace?  That's debatable.  Then again, they also just had an ownership change, so their business affairs could still be a little in flux.

The Grizzlies line-up, which should seem familiar, projects to be:

C: Marc Gasol > Hamed Haddadi >Marreese Speights
PF: Zach Randolph > Marreese Speights > Darrell Arthur
SF: Rudy Gay > Quincy Pondexter > D. J. Kennedy
SG: Tony Allen > Wayne Ellington > Josh Selby > Tony Wroten
PG: Mike Conley > Jerryd Bayless > Tony Wroten

What does this ever so slightly tweaked lineup mean for this season?  The biggest addition will be if Darrell Arthur is fully recovered from his Achilles Tendon tear.  Having both Speights and Arthur would give Memphis some front court depth, especially since Speights has played some center before.  Jerryd Bayless, from the perspective of running an offense, should be an upgrade at the back-up PG.  Wayne Ellington is likely a downgrade from OJ Mayo as back-up SG and doesn't seem likely to be a scoring 6th man.  If Josh Selby improves or Tony Wroten comes around faster than expected, Ellington could move down on that depth chart.

The biggest hope for improvement/keeping pace is the improvement of Mike Conley, who seemed to be taking the next step forward during the Clippers series.  Health will play a factor in determining this team's fate.  The wing is a little thin and an injury to Rudy Gay or Tony Allen could cause a lot of problems.

Barring injury, this should still be a play-off team, though perhaps not a 4 seed this year.  They'll look to recapture lightning in a bottle from a couple years back when they pushed the Thunder to 7 games in the conference semi-finals.  This is a team that could get hot and be a hard out in the playoffs, though I can't see projecting them to get out of the West.

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