2001/02: After six years of struggling in Vancouver, the Grizzlies moved to Memphis. For Memphis, it was the first NBA team, but the city had played home to an ABA team from 1970-1975. The Grizzlies made their Memphis debut on November 1st at the Pyramid losing to the Detroit Pistons 90-80. The Grizzlies would struggle mightily at the start as they lost their first eight games before beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-83 at the Pyramid on November 17th for their first Memphis win. The Grizzlies would not win many more games finishing in last place with a 23-59 record. However, there was still plenty to be excited about that first season in Memphis as Pau Gasol led the team with 17.6 ppg enroot to being named rookie of the year. Shane Battier, another rookie, also played impressive basketball posting a solid 14.4 ppg, while former University of Memphis star Lorenzen Wright led the team in rebounding with 9.0 boards per game. The highlight of the inaugural season in Memphis came on December 21st when the Grizzlies beat the eventual NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers at the Pyramid 114-108. Following the season, the Grizzlies would look to the Lakers for help to build their future as they hired former Lakers great Jerry West, who was the architect for the current Lakers Championship teams as well as the Showtime teams of the ’80s.
2002/03: In their second season in Memphis, the Grizzlies would get off to another rocky start as they lost their first eight games before Coach Sidney Lowe resigned. Lowe would be replaced by 69-year-old Hubie Brown, who had not coached in the NBA in 16 years. However, Hubie Brown had stayed close to the game as an announcer for Turner Sports NB coverage. The Grizzlies would continue to struggle under Brown losing their next 5 for an awful 0-13 start before they finally beat the Washington Wizards 85-74. After their first win, the Grizzlies played solid basketball for six weeks as they split their next 18 games. However, the Grizzlies would continue to rack up the losses as they failed to win 30 games again, posting a franchise-best 28-54 record while finishing in sixth place. Along the way, the Grizzlies made some moves to strengthen the team, including trading disappointing rookie Drew Gooden, with Gordan Giricek to the Orlando Magic for Mike Miller, Ryan Humphrey, and draft picks at the trade deadline. However, when the season was over, it would be a trade from their past that would come back and haunt them as a trade they made with Detroit Pistons for Otis Thorpe resulted in the Grizzlies losing a chance to pick second in the NBA Draft. The deal had stated that if the Grizzlies did not get the top overall pick, they would have to give it to the Pistons, for Thorpe who played less then two unspectacular seasons in Vancouver.
2003/04: In their final season in the Pyramid, the Grizzlies began to turn it around. Holding a 9-8 record early in December, the Grizzlies landed Bonzi Wells in a trade with the Portland Trailblazers on December 3rd. Despite holding a 15-17 record as the New Year started, the Grizzlies were heading in the right direction, and in January, they began to make show signs they were a contender as they won 10 of 14 games in January. The Grizzlies stayed hot in February as they climbed over the 30 win plateau for the first time in franchise history while posting a 10-3 record. They would play even better in March, winning 13 of 15 as they clinched a playoff spot. Down the stretch, they would struggle as they entered the playoffs, losing six of their last eight games. Despite the late-season slide, the Grizzlies still managed to post an impressive 50-32 record, nearly doubling their previous best win total, as 70-year old Hubie Brown was named Coach of the Year, as seven different players averaged more the 9 points per game. In the playoffs against the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, the Grizzlies would be no match as they would be swept away in four straight games.
2004/05: Coming off the first playoff appearance in franchise history, the Grizzlies had a new look and a new arena as they began to play at the FedEx Forum. The new-look Grizzlies would struggle earl losing five of their first 12 when 71-year old Coach Hubie Brown retired, saying he could no longer handle the day-to-day strain of coaching in the NBA. After losing all four games under interim coach Lionel Hollins, the Grizzlies turned to Mike Fratello. After initially struggling under Fratello, the Grizzlies would climb back above .500 in January, posting a 12-3 record during the first month of the New Year. That January would be good enough to help the Grizzlies into the playoffs for the second straight year as they beat out the Minnesota Timberwolves for the final playoff spot with a 45-37 record. In the playoffs, the Grizzlies would face the Phoenix Suns, who posted the best record in the NBA and would find themselves in an immediate hole losing the first two games on the road. Coming home, they would not fare any better as the Suns won both in Memphis as the Grizzlies failed to come up with their first postseason win again, getting swept in four straight games for the second year in a row. Following the season, the Grizzlies would undergo a roster makeover as James Posey and Jason Williams were sent to the Miami Heat in a mega-blockbuster deal that saw the Grizzlies land, Eddie Jones. At the same time, Bonzi Wells was shipped to the Sacramento Kings in a deal that saw the Grizzlies land Bobby Jackson; in addition, the Grizzlies would lose Stromile Swift to the Houston Rockets via Free Agency.
2005/06: The revamped Grizzlies started the season strongly winning 13 of their first 18 games. However, playing in the same division with the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks, the Grizzlies could still not do better than third place. The Grizzlies would play strong basketball all season as they posted a solid 49-33 record. Once again, the Grizzlies were led by Pao Gasol, who had another solid season with 20.4 ppg and 6.5 rebounds per game. While off the bench, Mike Miller added an extra spark with 13.7 ppg with a team-high 138 three-pointers made as he earned recognition as the league’s best 6th Man. However, in the playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks, the Grizzlies would once again find themselves overmatched as they were swept in four straight games for the third consecutive season, with only one game decided by less than ten points. Following the season, the Grizzlies continued to retool trading Shane Battier to the Houston Rockets to re-acquire Stromile Swift, along with Rudy Gay, the eighth overall draft pick.
2006/07: The new-look Grizzlies would suffer a significant loss before the season even started as Pao Gasol sustained a broken foot while leading Spain to victory in the FIBA World Championships in August. With Gasol missing the first 23 games the Grizzlies would get off to a terrible start winning just six of their first 30 games as Coach Mike Fratello was fired on December 28th and replaced on an interim basis by Tony Barone Sr. who was the team’s player personnel director and never coached an NBA game. Under Barone, the Grizzlies would not play much better as they would end up with the worst record in the NBA at 22-60. Following the season, General Manager Jerry West announced his resignation, ending a disappointing tenure in Memphis that saw the Grizzlies make just three playoff appearances that ended with the Grizzlies being swept all three times.
2007/08: Coming off their worst season since moving to Memphis, the Grizzlies continued to struggle as they stumbled out of the gate with a 5-10 record in November. Over the next two months, the losses continued to mount, as the Grizzlies decided it was time to start from scratch and rebuild. With that on their minds, the Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers on February 1st in exchange; the Grizzlies got for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, rights to Marc Gasol (Pau’s younger brother) in return. Following the trade, wins would become even scarcer, as they won just one game in February, on the way to posting a terrible 22-60 record for the second straight season.
2008/09: Coming off two straight 60 loss seasons, the Grizzlies continued to struggle, as they got off a horrible start again, as they dropped 14 of their first 18 games. In early December, the Grizzlies would string together a few wins, as they took four straight games and five out of six. However, it would not last as the Grizzlies entered the New Year with an awful 10-22 record. The Grizzlies’ struggles continued in January, as they embarked on a 12 game losing streak. The streak would cost Coach Marc Iavaroni his job, as he was fired on January 22nd. After losing two straight games under Assistant Coach Johnny Davis, Lionel Hollins took over for the remainder of the season. After losing their first four games under Hollins, the Grizzlies long losing streak came to an end, with a 113-97 win over the Washington Wizards. The Grizzlies would go on to finish the season in last place with a record of 24-58.
2009/10: Hoping to bring some star power to Memphis, the Grizzlies signed former MVP Allen Iverson. However, before even playing a game at home, Iverson was gone, as he was unhappy coming off the bench and left for personal reasons, before being released a short time later. Iverson would eventually return to the Philadelphia 76ers and continued to struggle with off the court issues. Meanwhile, another off-season acquisition had a much more significant impact on the Grizzlies, as Zach Randolph played at an All-Star level at both ends of the floor posting a 20.8 ppg scoring average, 8.8 rebounds per game while providing sturdy defense. Early on, as they dealt with the Iverson drama, the Grizzlies struggled, losing eight of their first nine games. However, as the New Year began, the Grizzlies crept above .500 as a solid January had them in the thick of the playoff race. In February, the Grizzlies slumped, losing five in a row. The Grizzlies thought would remain in playoff contention through the end of March, but as the season closed, they struggled again, posting a 2-9 record in their final 11 games as they finished in tenth place in the Western Conference with a record of 40-42.
2010/11: As the Grizzlies celebrated their tenth season in Memphis, the team looked to grab some relevance and make a push for the postseason, after a late-season slump had cost them a chance at finishing above .500. After starting the season with a 119-104 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Grizzlies stunned the Dallas Mavericks on the road 91-90 to earn their first win of the season. However, the Grizzlies would struggle much of the first half as they entered the New Year with a record of 14-18. As January ended, the Grizzlies began to turn things around, winning six of seven as they climbed over .500. As February began, the Grizzlies continued their strong play as they entered the All-Star Break with a 31-26 record. At the trade deadline, the Grizzlies would re-acquire Shane Battier from the Houston Rockets along with Ishmael Smith for Hasheem Thabeet, DeMarre Carroll, and a future first-round draft pick. The Grizzlies also tried to trade O.J. Mayo to the Indiana Pacers, but the deal was not completed in time. The Grizzlies continue to play winning basketball, posting a 9-5 record in March, despite losing Rudy Gay for the rest of the season on March 25th to a separated shoulder. The Grizzlies would go on finish the season with a 46-36 record, grabbing the eighth spot in the Western Conference Finals.
2011 Playoffs: Entering the playoffs, the Grizzlies were winless in their three previous trips to the postseason, facing the San Antonio Spurs nobody gave them a chance to do much better this time around. However, in Game 1 against a Spurs team that had only lost five games at home all year, the Grizzlies won 101-98 on Shane Battier’s three-point dagger as Zach Randolph had 25 points with 14 rebounds. After a 93-87 loss in Game 2, the series shifted to Memphis, where the Grizzlies athleticism was able to take advantage of the aging Spurs, winning 91-88 as Randolph again led all scorers with 25 points. The Grizzlies continued to give the Spurs fits, as they took a 3-1 series lead with a dominant 104-86 win in Game 4. Leading late in Game 5, the Grizzlies would be stunned by a three-point shot from Gary Neal with 1.7 seconds left that forced overtime. In OT, the Spurs would outscore the Grizzlies 13-6 for a 110-103 win. Despite the setback, the Grizzlies would go on to complete the upset with a 99-91 win in Game 6, as Zach Randolph scored a game-high 31 points. In the second round for the first time, the Grizzlies faced the Oklahoma City Thunder in a battle of two cities experiencing playoff success for the first time. The Zach attack continued against the Thunder, as Randolph scored 34 points with ten boards, while Marc Gasol added 20 points and 13 boards to beat the Thunder 114-101 in Game 1. After a 111-102 loss in Game 2, the series shifted to Memphis, where the Grizzlies overcame a 16 point deficit to beat the Thunder 101-93 in overtime as Zach Randolph continued his impressive postseason with 21 points and 21 boards. With a chance to take a 3-1 lead, the Grizzlies found themselves in overtime again. However, the Thunder would not rollover. The game would go to triple overtime before the Grizzlies seemed to run out of gas, suffering a 133-123 loss. The Grizzlies would come out flat in Game 5, as they appeared to be still feeling the effects of three overtimes, losing 99-72. Facing elimination in Game 6, the FedEx Forum was rocking as the Grizzlies used a strong second half to beat the Thunder 95-83, behind 34 points from Zach Randolph to force a seventh game. The Thunder would go on to beat the Grizzlies 105-90 in Game 7, but by coming within one game of the Conference Finals, the Grizzlies finally brought some excitement to Memphis, and legitimacy to their franchise.
2011/12: After their remarkable run to the second round of the playoffs, the Grizzlies looked forward to starting the season, but any momentum would be wiped out by a two-month lockout that delayed the start of the season. When the season began the day after Christmas, the Grizzlies would fall 95-82 in a rematch against the San Antonio Spurs on the road. The Grizzlies would get off to a slow start, losing six of their first nine games, as a knee injury to Zach Randolph put the Grizzlies playoff hopes in peril before the season even began. However, with Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol leading the way, the Grizzlies managed to keep their neck above water, as they got back on track with a seven-game winning streak in January. Randolph would return in March, as the Grizzlies stayed deep in the playoff hunt. After struggling early in his return, the Grizzlies finished the season strong, posting a 14-3 in their last 17 games. In the truncated season, the Grizzlies would grab the fourth seed with a record of 41-25, setting a record for the best win percentage in team history. Despite playing in just 28 games, Zach Randolph had another strong season, with 11.6 ppg and eight boards per game. Rudy Gay would lead the Grizzlies in scoring with 19.0 ppg, while Marc Gasol had 14.6 ppg and 8.9 rpg.
2012 Playoffs: Facing the Los Angeles Clippers, the Grizzlies got off to a fast start, building a 27 point lead in Game 1. However, it would all suddenly fall apart at FedEx Forum, as the Clippers outscored the Grizzlies 28-3 over the final 9:31 to rally from a 24 point fourth-quarter deficit to win the game 99-98. With Rudy Gay scoring 21 points, the Grizzlies would recover from their collapse to record a 105-98 win in Game 2 to even the series. Rudy Gay had a strong game, scoring 24 points as the series shifted to Los Angeles for Game 3. However, Gay’s missed three-point shot at the buzzer would allow the Clippers to win 87-86. In Game 4, the Grizzlies again had their chances as the game went to overtime. Once again, the Clippers seemed to hit all the shots when it counted, earning a 101-97 win to take a 3-1 series lead. Back home in Memphis, the Grizzlies built a 24 point lead, thanks to a 36 point first quarter. Once again, the Clippers would battle back in the second, this time the Grizzlies would hold on to win the game 92-80. Facing elimination again in Game 6, it was the Grizzlies with the comeback power in Game 6, as they rallied from an eight-point deficit to win the game 90-88, with Marc Gasol scoring a game-high 23 points. Back home for Game 7, the Grizzlies had high hopes of coming back from down 3-1. However, their bench would falter the Clippers reserves outscored the Grizzlies subs 41-11. The Clippers would win the game 82-72, advancing on to the second round.
2012/13: After their heartbreaking seven-game loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the Grizzlies went through an ownership change. Communications technology magnate Robert J. Pera, who at 34 had a spot on Forbes’ 2012 list of the ten youngest billionaires in the world, led a group that purchased the team for $350 million. Pera began making changes after taking over the team, naming John Hollinger as the new Vice President of Basketball Operations. The Grizzlies would start the season with a loss to the Clippers 101-92, but would only lose once in November, as 12 of their first 14 games, for the best start in franchise history. The Grizzlies torrid start would come to a halt in December, as they posted 7-7 record and went into the New Year with a record of 19-9. After the Grizzlies’ continued mediocre play in January, the team’s new management began reshaping the team on the floor, trading leading scorer Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi to the Toronto Raptors in a three-team deal also involving the Detroit Pistons. The Grizzlies acquired Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye from the Pistons and Ed Davis and a future second-round pick from the Raptors. The deal was first seen as a costing cutting move but seemed to provide a spark, as they won nine of their next 11 games, highlighted by an eight-game winning streak that saw the Grizzlies beat both the Pistons and Raptors on the road in back to back games. The Grizzlies would continue their solid play the remainder of the season as they posted a franchise-best record of 56-26. The Grizzlies formula was the best defense in the NBA, which allowed a league-low 88.7 points per game, as Marc Gasol became the first European born player to win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. Gasol was also just the sixth player in the league’s history to average at least one steal, and one blocked shot per game.
2013 NBA Playoffs: For the second straight year, the Grizzlies would face the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. However, things did not look good early, as they lost the first two games on the road. Coming home for Game 3, the Grizzlies got back on track with a 94-82 win, as Zach Randolph posted 27 points with 11 rebounds. The Grizzlies would continue to keep the home fires burning in Game 4, as they evened the series with a 104-83 win, as Randolph and Marc Gasol each scored 24 points, with Gasol leading the way on the boards with 13 rebounds. With Clippers star Blake Griffin out with an injury, the Grizzlies took full advantage in Game 5, with a 103-93 win to seize control of the series. This time the Grizzlies would finish off the Clippers, winning 118-106 in Game 6 as Zach Randolph and Mike Conley each scored 23 points to lead a solid team effort. Facing the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were missing Russell Westbrook in the second round, the Grizzlies looked well on their way to scoring a Game 1 upset with a nine-point lead at the end of three quarters. However, the Thunder stormed back with 29 points in the final 12 minutes to win the opener 93-91. The Grizzlies would still manage to get the split in Game 2, as Mike Conley missed a triple-double by one assist, with 26 points, ten boards, and nine assists as the Grizzlies won the game 99-91. As the series shifted to Memphis, the Grizzlies used their defense to clamp down on OKC, winning 87-81 to take the series lead. The Grizzlies would follow that up with a thrilling 103-97 win in Game 4, as the Grizzlies held the Thunder to three points during the extra session. With Zach Randolph posting 28 points and 14 rebounds, the Grizzlies would go on to win the series in five games, taking the clincher 88-84. In the Western Conference Finals for the first time, the Grizzlies would face the San Antonio Spurs, who they upset two years earlier for their first playoff win they took the opener 105-83. The Spurs looked to be cruising to another big win in Game 2, before the Grizzlies made a big fourth-quarter run, outscoring the Spurs 21-9 to send the game to overtime. In overtime, the Spurs would rebound to win the game 93-89. Game 3 at the FedEx Forum would also go to overtime, and once again, the Spurs took over winning 104-93, as they outscored the Grizzlies 18-7 in OT to take a 3-0 series lead. The Spurs would go on to complete the sweep with a 93-86 win in Game 4. Despite taking the Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals, Coach Lionel Hollins would not get a contract renewal due to differences with the team’s new management, as assistant David Joerger was promoted to Head Coach.
2013/14: Under new coach David Joerger the Grizzlies had some adversity early in the season, as Marc Gasol suffered a knee injury. Without the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, the Grizzlies struggled, posting 10-23 record as they entered the New Year with a record of 13-17. Gasol would return in January, and the Grizzlies began to get back in the playoff chase, winning 11 of 13 games to get back over .500. The strong January would lead to a strong second half, as the Grizzlies were one of the top teams in the Western Conference after the All-Star Break, posting a record of 21-9 after the All-Star Break. Over that stretch, the Grizzlies also won their last 14 games at the FedEx Center. The Grizzlies would finish the season with a record of 50-32 and take the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Gasol’s return to health was a key as he averaged 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies MVP was Zach Randolph, who led the team with 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. However, perhaps the most important key was Mike Conley Jr., who had a breakout season averaging career-highs with 17.2 points, 6.0 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game.
2014 Playoffs: In the playoffs, the Grizzlies would renew their rivalry with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Game 1 would not go in the Griz favor, as the Thunder rolled to a 100-86 win. The Grizzlies played much better in Game 2 and held a five-point lead with 18 seconds left to play. However, Kevin Durant completed a four-point play, and Kendrick Perkins added a put-back at the buzzer to even the score. Despite the late-game meltdown, the Grizzlies managed to compost themselves and doubled up the Thunder in overtime 12-6 to win the game 111-105. Game 3 would be a near carbon copy with the Thunder forcing overtime on a four-point play by Russell Westbrook. Once again, the Grizzlies would regain their composure and win in overtime 98-95. Game 4 would also go to overtime, but this time the Thunder would get the win to even the series 92-89. With the series returning to Oklahoma City, overtime was the story again as the Thunder rallied late to tie the game. In overtime, the game would continue to go back and forth as Marc Gasol grabbed a rebounder and passed the ball out to Mike Conley Jr., who put Memphis in front by one. The Thunder would get a chance to answer and looked to had won the game with a Serge Ibaka put back. However, replays showed the ball left Ibaka’s hand a half-second too late as the Grizzlies held on to win 101-100 to take a 3-2 series lead. Looking to close out the series, the Grizzlies suffered a letdown at home, losing 104-84. However, what hurt more was they lost their composure as Zach Randolph was suspended for Game 7 after punching Steven Adams while jogging back in transition.
2014/15: After the heartbreaking first-round exit, the Memphis Grizzlies ended a long losing streak in season openers beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-101 at FedEx Forum, for the first season-opening victory since moving to Memphis. The Grizzlies would go on to win their first six games for the best start in franchise history. After ending November with a record of 15-2, the Grizzlies came down to earth in December, suffering a four-game losing streak during the week of Christmas as they went into the New Year with a record of 23-8. The Grizzlies remained steady at the start of 2015, winning 12 of 16 games in January, as they continued on top of the Southwest Division heading into the All-Star Break with a record of 39-14. Over the last two months, the Grizzlies would falter a bit and barely played over .500, posting a 16-13 mark after the All-Star Break as they ended the season with a record of 55-27, finishing one game behind the Houston Rockets for first place as they slipped to the fifth seed in the West. Marc Gasol was the Grizzlies leading scorer, with 17.4 points per game, while Zack Randolph averaged a double-double with 16.1 points and a team-best 10.5 rebounds per game. Mike Conley meanwhile, led the team with 5.4 assists per game, while scoring 15.8 points per game.
2015 Playoffs: Facing the Portland Trail Blazers, the Grizzlies would have home court in the first round. In the opener, Grizzlies jumped out early and never looked back, outscoring the Blazers 58-39 in the first half on the way to an easy 100-86 win in which they never trailed. The Grizzlies continued to control matters in Game 2, winning 97-82 to take a 2-0 series lead. The Grizzlies continued to control the series in Portland, capturing a 115-109 win in Game 3, as Marc Gasol led the way with 25 points and nine rebounds. However, the game would prove costly as their leading assist man Mike Conley suffered a severe facial fracture. Without Conley, the Grizzlies would stumble in Game 4, blowing a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter as the Blazers held off a sweep with a 99-92 win. The Grizzlies would go on to close out the series in five games, winning 99-93 in the finale at FedEx Forum, with Gasol again leading the way with 26 points and 14 boards. Facing the Golden State Warriors in the second round, things started poorly for the Grizzlies as they never were in Game 1, losing 101-86. The Grizzlies got a big boost in Game 2, as Mike Conley returned to action, wearing a face shield eight days after surgery and scored a game-high 22 points to help even the series with a 97-90 win. As the series shifted to Memphis, the Grizzlies got big games from Zach Randolph, who scored 22 points and Marc Gasol, who added 21 points with 15 rebounds to take a 2-1 series lead, winning 99-89. The Warriors would bounce back behind MVP Stephen Curry to take Game 4 by a 101-84 score, and regained control of the series with a 98-78 win in Game 5. The Warriors would go on to win the series in six games, winning the finale in Memphis 108-95 on the way to winning the NBA Championship.
2015/16: After losing a tough second-round series against the eventual NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, the Memphis Grizzlies looked to prove themselves worthy of being among the NBA’s elite teams. Any plans the Grizzlies of making a run at the top of the Western Conference were undermined by a non-stop string of injuries they were forced to endure all season as no player on the team made more than 60 starts. Despite several key players missing games, the Grizzlies fought through the first two months with their usual grit and entered the New Year, holding a record of 18-16. With most of their lineup healthy, the Grizzlies had their best month in January, as they won 11 of 15 games. The Grizzlies continued to play well in February and ended the month with a record of 35-24 and were in an excellent position to make the playoffs. Injuries continued to be the biggest story in Memphis, as the injury significant began to take a bigger bite out of the Grizzlies roster. The most significant loss came on February 9th when Marc Gasol was lost for The remainder of the season with a broken foot. The loss of Gasol hit the Grizzlies, especially hard as he led Memphis in scoring with 16.6 points per game and ranked second in rebounding with seven boards a game. A month later, they would lose their top playmaker Mike Conley who had a team-high 6.1 assists per game and finished tied for second on the team in scoring with Zach Randolph, scoring 15.3 points per game. Helping to sustain the Grizzlies was Lance Stephenson, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers for Jeff Green at the trade deadline, scoring 14.2 points per game off the bench in 26 games with the Griz. However, it was not enough as the injuries continued to mount, with the Grizzlies setting an NBA record by using 28 players during the season. As the injuries mounted, the Grizzlies fortunes took a turn for the worse, with them losing 16 of their final 21 games. Despite the season-ending slump Memphis held on to the seventh seed, finishing with a record of 42-40.
2016 Playoffs: Limping into the playoffs without two of their top three players, the Memphis Grizzlies would come up lame in their first-round matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. In the opener, the Grizzlies would suffer a 106-74 loss. Game 2 would not be much better as the Spurs won 94-68. The Grizzlies’ most competitive effort was in Game 3 as the series shifted to the FedEx Forum. However, the lack of manpower became apparent as they ran out of gas in the fourth quarter and suffered a 96-87 loss. The Spurs would go on to sweep the series, winning the finale 116-95. Two weeks after the season came to an end, the Grizzlies would part ways with Coach Dave Joerger, citing his failure in recruiting players to join the Grizzlies.
2016/17: After breaking down at the end of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies looked to bounce back with a new coach in David Fizdale. The early returns were good, as the Grizzlies got off to a strong start, posting a record of 10-5 in their first 15 games. Highlighted by a six-game winning streak in December, that included a 110-89 win over the Golden State Warriors, the Grizzlies went into the New Year holding a record of 22-14. The Grizzlies would have their ups and downs in January and February but appeared to be in good shape to make the playoffs. As March began, Memphis began to show signs of falling apart, as they lost six straight as they struggled over the final six weeks. Despite losing five of their last six games, the Grizzlies still managed to sneak in the playoffs with the seventh seed, holding a record of 43-39. The Grizzlies got great seasons from Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol. Conley was the team’s leading scorer with 20.5 points and 6.3 assists per game, while Gasol averaged 19.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
2017 Playoffs: Once again, the Memphis Grizzlies faced the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Things did not start well for the Grizzlies as they suffered a 111-82 loss in the opener. Following a 96-82 loss in Game 2, the series shifted the FedEx Forum, with Memphis just looking for a win to avoid being swept out of the playoffs again. Mike Conley Jr. provided just what the Grizzlies needed scoring a game-high 24 points with, and eight assists as Memphis won Game 3 by a score of 105-94. Conley had 35 points in Game 4, but Marc Gasol, who had a big shot with the game-winning bucket with 0.7 seconds left in overtime as the Grizzlies evened the series with a 110-108 victory. The Spurs would bounce back with a 116-103 win in Game 5 and would win the series in six games, beating the Grizzlies 103-96 in the finale at the FedEx Forum.
2017/18: The Memphis Grizzlies entered the season in unfamiliar territory, as team legends Zach Randolph and Tony Allen departed. Randolph spent eight years with Memphis and made two All-Star appearances left to play with the Sacramento Kings. Allen, who won All NBA Defense first team three times with the Grizzlies, left to join New Orleans Pelicans. A fan favorite in his seven seasons, Allen embodied the tough, blue-collar mentality that the city of Memphis identified with and appreciated. Memphis did little to replace Randolph and Allen, as they remained relatively quiet in the free-agent market. On September 27th JaMychal Green inked a two-year deal worth $17 million to stay in Memphis. In addition to re-signing Green, Memphis brought in Tyreke Evans on a one-year deal worth just north of $3 million. Evans had previous ties to the city from his time as a college standout for the Memphis Tigers. To fill in the rest of the cracks on the roster, veteran guards Mario Chalmers and Ben McLemore were brought in. With no first-round picks in that year’s NBA Draft, Memphis had the rights to two second-round picks. At #35, the organization selected forward Ivan Rabb from Cal. A McDonald’s All-American and California’s Mr. Basketball in 2015, Rabb had been on the radar of NBA scouts for some time. Making Second-team All-Pac 12 (2016) and First-team All-Pac 12 (2017) in his two seasons at Cal, Rabb came in as an intriguing prospect for Memphis. Oregon shooting guard Dillon Brooks was selected 45th, having previously won Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2017. After starting the season a surprising 7-4, the wheels soon fell off for the Grizzlies. Coach Dave Fizdale was fired after eight games of an eleven game losing streak after a public spat with center Marc Gasol. Assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff was named interim coach for the rest of the season, which ultimately changed little as the Grizzlies continued to trend downward as the season progressed. To make matters even more complicated, starting point guard Mike Conley suffered a season-ending Achilles injury less than a quarter of the way through the season. Statistically, things were not pretty for Memphis, especially offensively, as they ranked 29th in point per game (99.3), 26th in assists per game (21.5), 29th in rebounds per game (40.5), and 25th in 3-point percentage (.352). Three-time All-Star Marc Gasol proved to be the only real difference-maker on the roster, leading the team in total minutes, points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. Rookie Dillon Brooks was a pleasant surprise, starting 74 games and finishing the year third on the team in scoring. On the other hand, fellow rookie Ivan Rabb struggled to find his groove, only appearing in 36 games and averaged a meager 5.6 points per game. From start to finish, the season was a vastly different vibe from the one that fans had grown used to over the previous seven years, where they made the playoffs each season in an ultra-competitive Western Conference. With cornerstone players Gasol and Conley growing older, Memphis’ front office would be faced with challenging decisions heading into the future as they posted a record of 22-60.
Written by Christopher Sadocha
2018/19: Coming off a 22-60 season that saw David Fizdale get fired, J.B. Bickerstaff was named full-time head coach. It was another quiet summer for the Grizzlies; the only notable free-agent addition was guard Kyle Anderson. Memphis signed Anderson, who was previously with San Antonio, to a four-year deal worth $32 million. With the fourth pick, Memphis selected Michigan State power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who was coming off a dominant freshman season where he earned the honors of 2018 Big-Ten Defensive Player of the Year and 2018 Big-Ten Freshman of the Year. As a top ten player in ESPN’s Top 100, ESPN’s national ranking system for high school players, Jackson Jr. had been a potential lottery pick since high school. The Grizzlies also owned the 32nd overall pick, which they used on West Virginia senior point guard Jevon Carter. While certainly not the most naturally talented player in the draft, Carter’s reputation of lockdown defense was a good fit for a team like the Grizzlies. Bickerstaff and Memphis enjoyed a promising start to the season after starting 12-6 over their first 18 games. Wins over the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, and San Antonio Spurs gave hope to fans that the team could compete for a playoff spot in the once again. Despite their early triumphs, the months of December and January proved to be rough. In 31 games over those two months, Memphis proceeded to go 7-24, which included losing streaks of five, six, and eight games. By the All-Star break, Memphis sat at 23-36, too far out, to compete for the eighth seed in the loaded Western Conference. Much like the previous season, Memphis struggled mightily on offense despite Mike Conley coming back from an Achilles injury. Memphis ranked dead last in the league in points per game (103.5), 29th in rebounds per game (41.8), and 25th in three-point percentage (.342). Their poor production on offense was enough to overcome drastic defensive improvements that saw them end the year third in opponent points per game (106.1). Memphis also ranked sixth in steals and fourth in blocks. A significant turning point, not just in the season but for the organization, was in February when the Grizzlies traded center, Marc Gasol, to the Toronto Raptors for multiple players and a second-round pick in 2024 at the trade deadline. Gasol, who had been a member of the Grizzlies for a decade, was a three-time All-Star and NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2015. Expectations for rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. were high throughout the season, and he ultimately went on to show that he was worthy of the fourth overall pick. Averaging 13.8 points per game. Jackson Jr. earned First Team All-Rookie honors. Memphis finished the year at 33-49, and Bickerstaff was let go. In July, Memphis’ front office decided to trade Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz in exchange for players and a 2020 first-round pick.
Written by Christopher Sadocha
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Page created on June 19, 2003. Last updated on April 29, 2020, at 11:50 pm ET.