Welcome back to another edition of Flip This Franchise!
As the trade deadline nears, the Grizzlies stand at a record of 29-26, the 9th best record in the Western Conference 8 games out of first place. After starting the season with a 22-8 record, a Jimmy Butler broken leg soon caused the team to go on a skid, where rookie Cam Reddish had to take over as the starting small forward. While Butler’s absence has hurt the team, the other marquee free agent signing, DeMarcus Cousins, has proven to be the best signing of the offseason. Cousins, who leads the team in points (24.9 PPG) and rebounds (11.4 RPG), made the All-Star team and has won Western Conference Player of the Week more times than any player this season.
With Butler slated to come back in 4-6 weeks, hopefully Cousins can continue his run and further help the players around him to make a push for the playoffs. Below I have added the top 8 teams in each conference so far this season.
Houston Rockets (36-17)
Denver Nuggets (35-18)
San Antonio Spurs (33-21)
Oklahoma City Thunder (30-23)
Utah Jazz (30-25)
Golden State Warriors (29-24)
Sacramento Kings (30-26)
Dallas Mavericks (30-26)
Philadelphia 76ers (47-7)
Boston Celtics (31-23)
Atlanta Hawks (28-26)
Brooklyn Nets (28-27)
Cleveland Cavaliers (27-26)
Washington Wizards (26-28)
Indiana Pacers (26-28)
Orlando Magic (25-27)
From looking at the top teams in each conference above, there is a lot that can be taken away. First of all, it is crazy just how much better the West is playing compared to the East. In this sense, if the Grizzlies were in the Eastern Conference, they’d have the 3rd best record in the conference. Not to mention, Ben Simmons is averaging a triple-double for the 76ers and is first in the MVP running. Another surprising takeaway from all of this is that the Warriors have the 6th best record in the West. Could part of this be attributed to the fact that the Knicks were able to sign Kevin Durant from them in the offseason? That remains to be seen, but even the Knicks with Kevin Durant still find themselves out of the top 8 with a 24-28 record. Another surprising part about the East is the rise of the Cavs and the Hawks. Whether it be Collin Sexton or Trae Young, both young PG’s are doing a great job of leading their teams into the playoff hunt.
Now the decision all of Memphis has been waiting for. With the trade deadline looming, it is now time to decide what the Grizzlies should do moving forward with the rest of the season. With Jimmy Butler out at least another 4-6 weeks, there is now a lack of depth at the SF position with Joe Johnson (72 OVR) currently serving as the backup. As Johnson’s overall isn’t good enough to land him a spot in the rotation, wing players such as Shake Milton and Avery Bradley have seen increased minutes. While this has helped the team in some ways, it has also caused them to become less of a rebounding unit, as they rank 24th in the league in boards. In that sense, I wanted to bring in a player who can provide quality minutes as the backup to Reddish while Butler is out. I also want someone who is young, on a cheap deal, and can potentially be brought back next year. Furthermore, I decided to go ahead and make a trade just before the trade deadline.
Grizzlies trade: ‘20 1st Round (Pacers) / Joe Johnson, SF
Raptors trade: OG Anunoby, SF / ‘24 1st Round
This move puts the Grizzlies in win now mode as they pick up OG Anunoby, a 77 OVR SF at 22 YRS of age. Not to mention, Anunoby is on a 1 YR/$2.28M deal with a $3.87M team option for the 2020 season. The former Indiana Hoosier is great at all-around scoring and is well known for his athleticism and defense. Anunoby is also a great player who can help fill the void and provide quality backup minutes to Cam Reddish as the season progresses. Not to mention, Memphis was also able to land an unprotected 2024 1st Round pick, which helps make up for the lottery pick we are losing this year.
With this trade, the Grizzlies give up one of their two lottery protected first round picks for the 2020 Draft, with the other being the 76ers, who currently have the best record in the NBA. With the Pacers being a middle-of-the-road team, it is unlikely that we would have landed their pick for this year since it very well could have fallen into the lottery. Joe Johnson was a sweetner to a part of this deal to provide Toronto with positional depth after they lost Anunoby.
Stay tuned for the next episode of Flip This Franchise as Memphis will be advancing to the end of the regular season. Will the Grizzlies have what it takes to make the playoffs? Tweet me your opinions @christhorkilsen
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