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12 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Author:

A MODEST PROPOSAL ...

PROTECT THE BIG TWO

Like it or not, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are entering a different stage of their careers—and bringing Memphis along with them. Gasol will be 34 by season's end, well removed from his athletic prime. Conley is 31, but he has suffered significant Achilles and heel injuries, and he played just 12 games last year. The Grizzlies are nothing without both players on the court and healthy—so much so that they must be proactive in managing their minutes and roles, effective immediately.

Memphis should dust off the Spurs' maintenance plan for Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Both were playing fewer minutes than Gasol and Conley at the same stages of their careers. (Duncan averaged 28.4 minutes as a 34-year-old; Gasol played 33.0 last year.) Being mindful of the future is not some admission of defeat; if anything, it's an acknowledgment of just how critical the duo is.

Therein lies the problem. Keeping Conley's minutes under 30 a game will be hard to do given the team's latest round of flotsam backup point guards. Gasol's understudy is 19-year-old rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. There are no simple solutions. Memphis, though, has to start somewhere.

STARTING 5

COACH J.B. BICKERSTAFF

2017--18 RECORD: 22--60

PREDICTION: Miss playoffs

SG WAYNE SELDEN

9.3

PPG

SF KYLE ANDERSON [NEW ACQUISITION]

52.7

FG%

PF JAMYCHAL GREEN

8.4

RPG

C MARC GASOL (40 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

17.2

PPG

PG MIKE CONLEY (36 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

38.1 FG%

Conley played just 12 games, but his abysmal form rubbed off on his teammates. The Grizzlies were 27th in the league in field goal percentage (44.4%).

BENCH

SG DILLON BROOKS

C JAREN JACKSON JR. [ROOKIE]

PF CHANDLER PARSONS

(*) NEW ACQUISITION

(R) ROOKIE

(#) SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP MEMPHIS

WHEN YOU really think about it, if MARC GASOL and MIKE CONLEY are healthy, that's always been what they needed to get to the playoffs. They've just been putting a team around them all these other years. I don't know if they make the postseason, but they might have enough if their main guys get back to an All-Star level.... JAREN JACKSON's development might determine whether it happens this year. If he's good out of the gate, they probably make it. He has the elite tools defensively and showed in summer league that his shooting range is there right now. He needs reps, but if he defends multiple positions and improves his skill set offensively every year, he's going to be a heck of a player. He could end up as the best player from this draft; he's already the best defender.... Conley has never been an All-Star because the West is just that tough. He has as much of an impact on games as any of those other guys. He defends, makes shots, has great speed, and he's just phenomenally consistent.... Guys with Gasol's skill level tend to have elongated careers, and he's managed his weight pretty well through the years. We saw it with Tim Duncan, with Pau [Gasol] and with Dirk [Nowitzki].... CHANDLER PARSONS has been a shell of himself since he left Houston. With the microfracture surgery, he's just never been the same guy. The last couple years he couldn't move at all.... KYLE ANDERSON—when you identify the guy you want, sometimes you have to overpay in free agency. But he's a versatile 6'9" guy who can play the three or the four, who sees the floor and passes like a point guard.