NBA Season Preview Series – Part 5

As we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, we will be previewing the NBA season by ranking the clubs in reverse order and revealing those clubs two at a time. Here’s what those rankings look like at this point:
30. Atlanta Hawks
29. Sacramento Kings
28. Orlando Magic
27. Phoenix Suns
26. Chicago Bulls
25. New York Knicks
24. Brooklyn Nets
23. Charlotte Hornets

Here are the next two clubs:

22. Memphis Grizzlies

Last Season: 22-60 (0.268) (5th in Southwest Division, 14th in Western Conference)
Head Coach: J.B. Bickerstaff (2nd season with team, 15-48 team; 52-82 overall)
Major Off-season Acquisitions: Jaren Jackson Jr. (4th pick), Omri Casspi, Kyle Anderson, Shelvin Mack
Major Off-season Departures: Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore
Salary Cap Info: $122.3 million ($20.5M over cap, $1.5M luxury tax space available)
Narrative: After four straight Eastern Conference teams, we have (at least) two straight Western Conference teams, starting with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies were the second-worst team in the West (and the NBA) last season, but they are expected to do a little better this season, primarily because the season hasn’t started yet and nobody has been injured yet. Though Marc Gasol played in over 70 games for the second straight season, point guard Mike Conley played in only 12, Chandler Parsons only 36, and JaMychal Green played in only 55 games. Should those three improve on those numbers this season, you’d have to expect the team to do a little better, though not much moreso than last year.
They retained interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff after the firing of David Fizdale (which we talked about yesterday), and the team hopes his results are more in line with his previous head coaching stint in Houston and not his results last year. With their ownership situation mostly resolved, and an exiting top five draft pick, maybe the Grizzlies can compete for the playoffs again… if they some how were moved to the East. Of any team currently in the NBA, Memphis is hopeful that the league expands to Seattle and Las Vegas – or some other Western city – to maybe push them to the East in future seasons.

21. Dallas Mavericks

Last Season: 24-58 (0.293) (4th in Southwest Division, 13th in Western Conference)
Head Coach: Rick Carlisle (11th season with team, 437-367 team; 718-578 overall)
Major Off-season Acquisitions: Luka Doncic (3rd pick), DeAndre Jordan, Devin Harris
Major Off-season Departures: Seth Curry, Yogi Ferrell, Nerlens Noel
Salary Cap Info: $104.8 million ($2.9M over cap, $18.3M luxury tax space available)
Narrative: Years after signing him, only to have him renege and go back to the Clippers, the Mavericks finally signed DeAndre Jordan, and it might be a few years too late, especially as the league has moved away from centers with Jordan’s skill set. They also were able to draft perhaps the most exciting player in Europe (in a trade with the Hawks) in Luka Doncic, and fans from both teams will be watching to see which player in the trade – Trae Young on the Hawks is the other player – to see who “won the trade” as soon as possible.
Rick Carlisle is tied for the second-longest tenure as a coach in the league, and enters his 11th season as one of the top coaches in the league. With Doncic and Jordan in the fold, as well as the continued development of last year’s first round pick Dennis Smith and perhaps the final season of Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks hope to improve on last season, but I believe they are the first club outside of the top 11 that will compete for a playoff spot in the West this season. They will have over $50 million in cap space next season, and the hope is that they can attract a top free agent or two to pair with Doncic and others, but they aren’t the only team that will be hoping to do that… just the only team with Doncic.
Until next time… 
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