Over the coming weeks, we at FanSided will do a team-by-team breakdown of each NBA franchise’s fantasy prospects for the 2017-18 season. Let’s continue today with the Memphis Grizzlies.
While the rest of the Western Conference found itself in a rapidly escalating arms race this offseason, the Memphis Grizzlies had little choice but to shed salary and take fliers on high-ceiling, low-floor free-agent signings. That enables fantasy basketball owners to largely ignore Memphis players until the later rounds of drafts this fall, save for a few notable exceptions.
Facing the prospect of an enormous luxury-tax bill for a middle-of-the-pack playoff team, the Grizzlies bit the bullet and allowed Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and Vince Carter to walk in free agency. With the heart of the Grit ‘n’ Grind Grizzlies gone, Memphis turned its attention to players taken off the scrap heap in the hopes they can resuscitate their games in a more functional environment.
Tyreke Evans, who spent his one year in college at the University of Memphis, was the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year before injuries sent his career spiraling. Ben McLemore, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, never quite found his footing with the Sacramento Kings, but the dysfunction reigning throughout that franchise chewed up and spit out a number of promising young prospects aside from him. Both should walk into significant reserve roles with the Grizzlies, making them intriguing high-variance fantasy options.
Which Grizzlies players should fantasy owners target with early-, mid- and late-round picks, and who should be left on the waiver wire? Let’s take a look.
Marc Gasol, C: Much like Brook Lopez with the Brooklyn Nets, Gasol began to embrace the NBA’s three-point revolution last season. After hitting just 12 treys on 66 attempts throughout his first eight years in the league, Gasol went 104-of-268 from deep in 2016-17. Coupled with his career-high 19.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.3 blocks and 0.9 steals, Big Spain wound up finishing as the 28th-ranked player on a per-game basis in nine-category leagues, rewarding owners who scooped him up in the fourth or fifth rounds. Given the uncertainty surrounding Chandler Parsons’ ability to stay healthy, Gasol may have to take on another massive role offensively this season, making him a rock-solid mid- to late third-round pick in 10-team leagues.
Mike Conley, PG: Fresh off signing the richest contract in NBA history (at the time), Conley erupted for a career-best 20.5 points on 46.0 percent shooting, 6.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 triples and 1.3 steals in 33.2 minutes last season. That enabled him to finish as the 23rd-ranked player on a per-game basis in nine-category leagues, a full two rounds ahead of his No. 43 expert consensus rank. Under new head coach David Fizdale, Conley let fly from deep more frequently than ever before, and he shot a personal-high 40.8 percent from three-point range. Various bumps and bruises have sidelined him for at least 12 games over each of the past three seasons, but he’ll still be a strong third-round pick due to Memphis’ offseason losses.
Chandler Parsons, SF: Risk-averse owners should skip right to the next player here, as Parsons is about as high-risk, high-reward as they come in fantasy basketball. Chronic knee problems ravaged his fantasy value last year, as he finished with a career-low 6.2 points on 33.8 percent shooting, 2.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.7 triples in 19.9 minutes across 34 games. In late June, Parsons said he was “totally pain free” and working out four to five hours a day, according to Peter Fleischer of Fox 13 Memphis, but there’s no telling whether he’ll hold up throughout the 82-game season. On the bright side, his dismal 2016-17 campaign will cause his draft-day value to plummet, so you should be able to scoop him up with one of your final round picks. If Parsons hits, he could be a top-100 option, and if he misses, it shouldn’t hurt much to cut him.
Tyreke Evans, SF: After undergoing three procedures on his right knee over a nine-month span, Evans missed the first month-and-a-half of the 2016-17 season while he continued to recover. Once he made his regular-season debut on Dec. 15, the New Orleans Pelicans proceeded to limit his playing time over his 26 games with the club, causing him to average just 9.5 points on 40.1 percent shooting, 3.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 18.2 minutes. The Pelicans shipped him to the Sacramento Kings at the trade deadline, but he didn’t fare much better there, causing him to finish well outside of standard-league relevance. If Evans remains healthy with Memphis this coming year, his do-it-all skill set gives him top-100 upside, but risk-averse owners should shy away from him as well.
JaMychal Green (?), PF: At the moment, Green remains without a team, as the restricted-free-agent market has not been kind to him. According to Chris Herrington of the Commercial Appeal, the Grizzlies have offered the 27-year-old “significantly more” than his $2.8 million qualifying offer, “but also significantly less than Green and his agent were probably expecting when the process began.” Since cap space has largely dried up across the league, conventional wisdom suggests Green will be back with Memphis this fall, either on a one-year qualifying offer or a longer-term deal. With Randolph gone, the Alabama product will have a chance to build upon his career-high 8.9 points on 50.0 percent shooting, 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.7 triples that he averaged in 27.3 minutes per game last season, but he doesn’t appear to tout top-100 upside with Brandan Wright, Jarell Martin and Devonta Davis all lurking as competition for playing time.
Wade Baldwin, PG
Mario Chalmers, PG
Andrew Harrison, PG
Ben McLemore, SG
Troy Daniels, SG
Wayne Selden, SG
James Ennis, SF
Rade Zagorac, SF
Dillon Brooks, SF
Brandan Wright, PF
Jarell Martin, PF
Deyonta Davis, PF
Sleeper: Tyreke Evans
Bust: Chandler Parsons
Other team breakdowns
Atlanta Hawks | Boston Celtics | Brooklyn Nets | Charlotte Hornets | Chicago Bulls | Cleveland Cavaliers | Dallas Mavericks | Denver Nuggets | Golden State Warriors | Houston Rockets | Indiana Pacers | Los Angeles Clippers | Los Angeles Lakers
All average draft position info via FantasyPros. All rankings via Basketball Monster are based on nine-category leagues.