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2008-09 Memphis Grizzlies Preview

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(Betting Express) - The Grizzlies franchise hasn't had much success since its inception in Vancouver in 1995. But the team on the Mississippi is in the process of rebuilding and should enjoy a bit more success this season.

The team moved from Vancouver to Memphis after the 2000-01 season and, after a pair of poor seasons, made three straight playoff appearances, but were swept all three times.

However, the past two seasons have been disappointing as the team finished in last place in the heavily stacked Southwest Division.

Memphis made a big draft day trade that saw the team bring in highly touted guard O.J. Mayo, Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric and Greg Buckner from Minnesota for draft pick Kevin Love and sharp-shooter Mike Miller.

Also, the team decided to let Marc Iavaroni, who coached his first campaign with Memphis in the 2007-08 season, remain as head coach and attempt to lead this youthful squad to success.

2007-08 Record: 22-60

ADDITIONS: Darrell Arthur (F) - Trade with Houston; Greg Buckner (G) - Trade with Minnesota; Marko Jaric (G) - Trade with Minnesota; Tarence Kinsey (G) - Free Agent; OJ Mayo (G) - Trade with Minnesota; Antoine Walker (F) - Trade with Minnesota.

SUBTRACTIONS: Kwame Brown (C) - Signed with Detroit; Brian Cardinal (F) - Traded to Minnesota; Jason Collins (C) - Traded to Minnesota; Mike Miller (F) - Traded to Minnesota.

2008 DRAFT PICKS: 1. (5) Kevin Love (F, UCLA) - Traded to Minnesota; 1 (28) Donte Greene (F, Syracuse) - Traded to Houston.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:

PG- Mike Conley SG- O.J. Mayo SF- Rudy Gay PF- Darko Milicic C- Marc Gasol

KEY RESERVES: Marko Jaric, Hakim Warrick, Antoine Walker, Quinton Ross

FRONTCOURT: Small forward Rudy Gay enters his third season in the NBA after a solid second season. He started 81 games for Memphis and averaged 20.1 points, which was almost double his rookie season total, and 6.2 rebounds per game. A very athletic forward who had a good offensive game, there are still questions surrounding his desire and intensity.

At the power forward position will be Darko Milicic, starting his fifth season in the NBA. The 23-year-old played in 70 games last season, his first with Memphis after signing as a free agent in the offseason, and he averaged 7.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He played much of last season at center, but did make appearances at the power forward position. He did injure his Achilles tendon while practicing with the Serbian national team in the offseason, but is expected to be fully prepared for the start of the season.

Marc Gasol, brother of former Grizzly Pau Gasol, will make his debut in the NBA. Standing at 7-foot and 250 pounds, he can play both power forward and center. A big body in the lane, he handles the ball well and has a good short- range shot, but the extra weight he has put on will slow him down.

BACKCOURT: Mayo will be a strong presence for this team as he can play either guard position. However, the team will most likely use him as a big shooting guard. He has a strong offensively game as he is able to shoot from long or use power to get to the basket. He is also not afraid to dish the ball off to his teammates and has a strong presence in the defensive end to go along with his excellent knowledge of the game.

Mile Conley has a year of experience under his belt after being selected fourth overall in the 2007 NBA draft. After New Year's he saw his playing time increase and started 46 games last season, averaging 9.4 points and 4.2 assists. An excellent field marshall on the court, he can run the game effectively and has an excellent shot.

BENCH: The team added some depth to its bench on the draft-day trade with Walker and Jaric.

Jaric is a shooting guard who will contribute points and assists while eating up some minutes while Walker can spell the forwards and at 32 years old and entering his 13th season is the most experienced member of the squad.

Like the rest of the team, the bench is a young squad and will still be on a learning curve this season.

OUTLOOK: This is a young team that will be learning how to play together this season.

Their is much promise on the squad, but it is going to take time to develop. There are four rookies on the roster in addition to two other players entering just their second season in the pros.

The other good news for the club is they will have a lot of cap space to work with after the end of the season.

The playoffs are most likely out of the equation for this team, but you never know what will happen. Who would have thought the Tampa Bay Rays would make it to the World Series this year?

October 21, 2008, at 02:58 PM ET
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