Welcome back to another edition of Flip This Franchise!
After an eventful offseason that included drafting two high-potential players in Reddish and Washington, signing nine free agents including DeMarcus Cousins and Jimmy Butler, and making two trades that led to the acquisition of a 1st round pick and Monte Morris, the Grizzlies are officially ready for the 2019 regular season. Before we advance to the trade deadline, I have listed the updated rotation that the Grizzlies will be running with for the start of the season.
Starting Lineup & Bench
PG: Elfrid Payton, 77 OVR, 24 MINS
SG: Caris LeVert, 81 OVR, 24 MINS
SF: Jimmy Butler, 89 OVR, 35 MINS
PF: Jaren Jackson Jr. 83 OVR, 31 MINS
C: DeMarcus Cousins, 88 OVR, 35 MINS
6: (PG) Monte Morris, 78 OVR, 28 MINS
7: (SF) Cam Reddish, 78 OVR, 22 MINS
8: (C) Mitchell Robinson, 77 OVR, 18 MINS
9: (PF) Ivan Rabb, 77 OVR, 15 MINS
10: (SG) Shake Milton, 76 OVR, 4 MINS
11: (SG) Avery Bradley, 76 OVR, 4 MINS
12: (PG) Raul Neto, 73 OVR, 0 MINS
13: (C) Kyle O’Quinn, 72 OVR, 0 MINS
RES: (SF) Joe Johnson, 72 OVR
With this line-up, I decided to put the majority of the emphasis around the big three of Butler, Jackson Jr. and Cousins, the only players in the line-up that would be playing 30+ minutes. In terms of the rest of the line-up, I really wanted to spread out the minutes as much as I could to maximize the depth that there is on the roster. With the point guard position, you may see that Morris is receiving more minutes than both Payton and LeVert as a bench player. The main reason for this is that he is a better offensive player than both of them in terms of shooting the ball, especially behind the 3 point line. So in order to make up for the back court's lack of 3PT shooting, I wanted to give Morris more minutes to help keep the 3 ball alive. With the lineup set, it is now time to take a look at how the first half of the season played out.
Moving onward into the season, the Grizzlies started the year off hot, winning 8 out of their first 10 games, including victories over the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors. As a GM, I could not have asked for a better start to the season. As the season progressed, through 30 games, the Grizzlies had a record of 22-8 and looked like serious title contenders. Memphis had finally grasped a sense of hope, but then...tragedy struck.
Just when you thought the Grizzlies had everything figured out, Jimmy Butler breaks his leg in a game against the Spurs and the team begins to go on a tremendous skid. With Butler out for the foreseeable future, rookie Cam Reddish was forced into the starting lineup as the team had to try and figure out how to win without part of its big three. Unfortunately, the Grizz went on a 6-game losing streak, followed by some more bumps in the road to eventually finish right before the trade deadline at 29-26 as the 9th best team in the Western Conference, 8 games out of first place.
However, there are reasons to be hopeful. First off, even with Butler’s injury, he is only set to miss 4-6 more weeks for the rest of the season. Not only that, but Demarcus Cousins has proven to be the best signing of the offseason thus far, leading the team in PPG with 24.9 and RPG with 11.4. Not to mention he has also won Western Conference Player of the Week 3 times this season (the most for any player in the West this year) and was voted to the NBA All-Star team. In terms of the other leaders on the team, Monte Morris leads the team in assists with 5.4 APG; while that is low for an individual, the Grizzlies still rank 8th overall in APG. On the defensive end, Jimmy Butler leads the way with 2.2 SPG and Jaren Jackson Jr. leads with 1.8 BPG.
Overall, the team’s biggest problems so far stem from the Jimmy Butler injury and from overall team rebounding, as the Grizzlies rank 24th in RPG. As a result, it will be essential to make sure we are giving enough minutes to players who are effective rebounders. It also makes sense for the Grizzlies to sign a free agent who can provide help on the rebounding end or even see who is available on the trade market.
Stay tuned for the next episode of Flip This Franchise, where we will see if Memphis decides to make any last minute deals before the trade deadline, along with a look at what’s going on with the rest of the league. Got any potential moves you’d like to see the Grizzlies make? Tweet me your opinions @christhorkilsen
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