Welcome back to another edition of Flip This Franchise!
In a regular season that proved to be a rather consistent one for the Grizzlies from years past, finishing with a record of 44-38, the Grizzlies went in to the playoffs as a 6-seed and would face the Houston Rockets in their first-round matchup. Considering how last year’s playoff series went against the Denver Nuggets, there should be a lot of confidence for the Grizzlies despite having to go up against a challenging Rockets team with James Harden.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, the hill this time around would be much tougher to climb compared to last season. To my surprise, the Rockets controlled the series for the most part and did so with the help of some unexpected youngsters.
Besides James Harden being dominant throughout the entire series, many would think Chris Paul and Eric Gordon would be the next two biggest contributors in the lineup. But in Game 5 for example, SF Alonzo McKinnie finished the game with 19 PTS, 6 RBS, and 2 ASTS, with Svi Mykhailiuk adding 11 PTS of his own to go along with 2 STLS and 3 BLKS on the the defensive end.
To put this in perspective, Alfonzo McKinnie went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft and Svi Mykhailiuk wasn’t taken till the 47th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Both players are also sub-80 OVR, whereas our entire starting lineup is over an 80 OVR. Ultimately, the Rockets ended up taking out Memphis in the series of 4-1, leaving the Grizzlies very perplexed heading into next season.
On a more positive note, there were a few good takeaways to be noted from the Grizzlies lone 2020 playoff series with the Rockets. For one, Cam Reddish set a team record with 8 three-pointers in their Game 5 loss, which saw Reddish finishing with a stat-line of 29 PTS, 5 RBS, and 3 ASTS on a highly efficient 8-11 from 3PT. Throughout the series Reddish was also the team’s second leading scorer, finishing with 19.2 PPG, only behind Demarcus Cousins who averaged a double-double in points and rebounds with 20.2 and 10.4, respectively. Jimmy Butler finished 3rd in scoring with 17.6 PPG, and Jaren Jackson Jr. and Malcom Brogdon tied for 4th at 11.2.
Overall, there was a steady drop-off in scoring from third to fourth, and the concerning part about that is the guy who finished second in Reddish was coming off the bench. In that sense, two of the top three scorers on the team in Reddish and Butler are both true SF’s and had to spend the majority of their playing time with one or the other on the bench. This ultimately made it difficult for the Grizzlies to develop any sort of consistency in their scoring output, which partially led to their downfall against the Rockets.
In terms of how the rest of the league played out the 2020-21 playoffs, the Boston Celtics won the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs in a 4-2 series, with Jayson Tatum winning the Finals MVP Award. For the Celtics, a majority of their help in their final game came from R.J. Barrett, who won the 2020 6th Man of the Year Award, finishing with 28 PTS, 4 RBS, and 4 ASTS. The next highest scorer in that game? Another future New York Knick (in real life), Marcus Morris, who added 21 PTS, 3 RBS, and 2 ASTS. Hopefully the success of Barrett and Morris in 2K will translate to the same success for the Knicks (in real life).
Overall, the 2020-21 NBA Season was one that was ultimately a bit of a disappointment for the Grizzlies. Although they were able to finish with a better playoff seed than they did the season before, they ultimately ended up getting ousted in a series of 5 from the Houston Rockets where they weren’t even close. In terms of the offseason, there is going to be some serious evaluating in terms of what makes sense for the future core of the Grizzlies.
With that said, stay tuned for the next Flip This Franchise where we will discuss team needs for the Grizzlies in the summer of 2021, along with seeing who the Grizzlies will take in the 2021 NBA Draft. What do you think the biggest position of need is for the Grizzlies heading into the offseason? Tweet me your opinions @christhorkilsen
Passionate about marketing for the world’s best brands in sports & entertainment. Truest movie quote: “If you want something, go get it, period.”