If you live in Memphis, you love the Memphis Grizzlies. The whole “Grit Grind” attitude fits perfectly with the Home of the Blues. With the Grizz coming off their best season in franchise history and an offseason with lots of changes, you can bet the city is buzzing with excitement—and a little worry—about this upcoming season.
The Grizzlies, an organization that has spent most of their existence under .500, are riding high after winning a franchise-best 56 games, making their first appearance ever in the Western Conference Finals and being named ESPN The Magazine’s best franchise in all of pro sports for 2013.
There’s already a lot to talk about when it comes to the grittin' and grindin' Grizz. Add in a head coaching change right after the best season in franchise history and some championship buzz, and you've got a media frenzy.
Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but regardless, people are talking about the Grizzlies.
After his second year as owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, Robert Pera, who recently challenged Michael Jordan to a game of one-on-one for charity, decided to replace head coach Lionel Hollins with six-year Grizzlies assistant coach David Joerger.
Joerger, the third youngest head coach in the NBA, has won five championships in the minor leagues, including one in the NBA D-League, one in the International Basketball Association title and three in the Continental Basketball Association.
Only NBA head coaches under 40-years-old. Answer: Celts' Brad Stevens (37), Magic's Jacque Vaughn (38), Grizzlies' David Joerger (39)— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) October 16, 2013
Although Joerger has an impressive résumé, a coaching change right after the best season in franchise history has fans and analysts questioning Memphis' success.
They really fired Lionel Hollins for nothing smh— Nemo Hoes. (@Kontra402) October 15, 2013
Hard to gauge if the Grizzlies will take a step back this season after letting go of coach Lionel Hollins.— NBA 2 Australia (@NBA2Australia) October 11, 2013
But many people think it's a good move—not only does it get management and coaches on the same page, but as he said in an interview with Sports Illustrated, Joerger wants the Grizz to play faster without losing any of the league-leading defensive intensity (holding opponents to 89.3 points per game.)
Dave Joerger pregame: "Defensively, we have to be better. We need to foul less. Offensively, we want to continue to build on reads."— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) October 9, 2013
Noting that it is the preseason, but seriously, the Dave Joerger post game presser is a breath of fresh air.— Carrie Anderson (@Camragal) October 10, 2013
Oh, and he promises to shoot better.
Which makes sharpshooter and Memphis fan favorite Mike Miller's move back to his former team so crucial—if he can stay healthy.
Loud applause when Mike Miller was announced...surprisingly not soo much for Dave Joerger.— Grizzn13 (@Grizzn13) October 10, 2013
The Grizz have also added some depth to the post with Kosta Koufos and in the backcourt with Nick Calathes and Andre Barnett.
The best franchise in pro sports has made some big changes over the offseason, making some worried it will impede the progress of this on-the-rise team. But Zach Randolph isn't worried.
Grizzlies' All-Star forward Zach Randolph has one thing on his mind - winning a championship. (subscribers) http://t.co/oWb3LeNvhj— Commercial Appeal (@memphisnews) October 12, 2013
Championship, Z-Bo? I don't think so.
Yes, the Grizzlies have made some massive strides from a few years ago when they were under .500, and last year looked very promising, but I don't think this year will be the year for a Memphis championship.
Last year, the Grizzlies beat a decent Los Angeles Clippers team in the first round of the playoffs, which was decently impressive. To get to the Western Conference Finals, they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were down one scoring point guard, some kid named Russell Westbrook—not very impressive.
Although it may prove championship-worthy in the future, Memphis's coaching change will not produce a championship in 2013-14. The Grizzlies will be playing a faster offense, which will take some getting used to—and in the mean time, it will result in an increased number of turnovers, which will hurt their league-leading defense by giving up more fast-break points.
Don't get me wrong. I want it to work. A running offense that doesn't turn the ball over and will keep teams from scoring over 90 points? Dream come true. Beautiful basketball.
But while they get used to the new offense and their assistant coach changing roles to a head coach, Z-Bo and Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol will lead their team to the playoffs. However, the Grizz won't be making back-to-back appearances in the Western Conference Finals or holding the Larry O'Brien Trophy above their heads this season.