All previews follow the same format, I’ll be going in depth only on the players worth owning in a standard 12-team league, followed by players who you might consider as injury handcuffs/deep sleepers. As always, it starts with the most valuable player on the team:
Rudy Gay (SF/PF)
Helps: Points, 3-pointers, FT%, Steals, Blocks,
After the Grizzlies unloaded Pau Gasol last season, Gay gave the NBA a glimpse of what his future holds. He maintained his 20 point-per-game pace but became a better rebounder, passer and 3-point threat. Gay is emerging as an all-around weapon on a team that is going need him to do a little bit of everything.
Translation: The Grizzlies are going to S-U-C-K and it makes Gay a highly desirable fantasy player.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Gay will average 22 points, seven rebounds, two 3-pointers, two steals and 1.5 blocks per game to go with solid percentages.
Once Gay goes off the board, there won’t be another Grizzlies player picked for a long while. He might represent the biggest gap any NBA team has between it’s number one and number two fantasy options.
Be prepared that defenses will focus all their attention on Gay and his FG% percentage may suffer, but his cumulative numbers will be strong regardless.
When to take him: He’s never carried the team, so temper the optimism a little, but he is still a late second or early third round pick.
Hakim Warrick (SF/PF)
Helps: FG%, Rebounds
Warrickhas been jerked around a lot by the Grizzlies in the last two seasons, playing well when receiving enough playing time and then being stuck on the bench for long stretches. With the team in the middle of a youth movement and very thin in the frontcourt, expect Warrick to be a major part of the rotation.
Warrick got starters’ minutes down the stretch last season and averaged just under 16 points, seven rebounds while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. No reason to think he can not post those numbers over a full season and maybe even give enough steals and blocks to increase his value.
Per 36 minutes last season, Warrick posted a line of 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds and had a .502 FG%. He might not get more than 30 minutes per game – he has never played more than 26 per game in a season – but he’ll log more frontcourt minutes than any player except Gay (not that there is anything wrong with that).
When to take him: In the 10th round – you won’t find too many 16 point-per-game scorers down there.
Just looking at the remainder of the Grizzlies roster gives me a headache. It’s a mish-mash of flawed young players and guys with unknown potential. Let’s do a quick rundown:
Mike Conley Jr. (PG):Conley had an erratic rookie season, posting shaky numbers except for some solid assists and steals, which is where his value lies. He will likely average between 10 and 13 points with increased minutes, adding six assists and a steal. Both of Conley’s percentages will be subpar and he doesn’t shoot many 3-pointers, but he is the favorite to start the season as the team’s starting point guard. Worth a late round pick if you need assists.
O.J. Mayo (PG):On such a crappy team, Mayo may get a lot of burn at both guard positions, giving him some great fantasy potential. He is a score-first guard with potential for assists who will provide some 3-pointers but a low FG%. Despite his lack of defensive prowess, his quickness should result in a fair amount of steals and he is an excellent free-throw shooter. Not a bad late-round selection for his upside and definitely one of the best rookie draft picks this season.
Darko Milicic (C):Darko is the “oh crap, I really need some blocks” option. If you drafted well and didn’t get crushed by the injury bug, scrambling to improve in one category should not become a problem. But, the Grizzlies have little frontcourt depth and Milicic may play more minutes than he ever has previously. He stinks offensively but averaged 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes last season. If he plays near 30 minutes per game (a big IF considering foul trouble, etc.) that’s worth something. Kind of.
Marko Jaric (SG):Jaric is a strong source of steals and assists – especially considering the minutes he will likely be getting – but don’t expect much else. He is a career .408 shooter from the floor and just .731 from the line and points do not come easily. Jaric is a deep-league option only, which makes it even more remarkable that he is ENGAGED TO ADRIANA LIMA!
Marc Gasol (C):I’ve been trying to come up with a nickname for him, like “Children of a Lesser Gasol” or “The other Corsican Brother” to no avail. A polished European player like Gasol, who has almost no competition for minutes in the frontcourt, should do well in providing some rebounds, blocks and a high FG%. But it’s hard to predict the Grizzlies rotation this early. Keep an eye on him, but don’t draft him, except in deep leagues.
Kyle Lowry (PG):Notice something here? Memphis has a lot of point guards. Lowry is like a worse version of Conley: some nice assists and steals but awful percentages and not much of an outside shot. He shouldn’t be drafted in all but the deepest of leagues
Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility rules.