Memphis shocked a lot of people with a 40-win season last go around. The team that was supposed to be so selfish with the ball turned out to have great chemistry and look like a young team on the rise.
The problem with the West is that 40 wins leaves you 10 games out of the playoffs — it took 50 to get the eight seed last season and it likely will be close to that number again.
Grizzles owner Michael Heisley has guaranteed his team is making the playoffs this year. He’s not the kind of owner to just go off and talk out of his a$% without knowing what he is talking about… well, yes he is. He is exactly that owner. And it would be hard for the Grizzlies to pull off.
But in this case, the team is with him, as Marc Gasol told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
“We’re all on the same page,” Gasol said in a recent telephone conversation from Spain. “I can’t wait to get back to start working toward that goal. We’re going to definitely try to (make the playoffs). I think we can because we believe in each other.”
“My contract status doesn’t make a difference [he is in the last year of his deal],” Gasol said last week, speaking from Barcelona, where the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program visited for the first time. “I can assure you that all I’m going to try to do is make my teammates better and win.”
Believing in each other is great, but is it add 10 wins great? No. Memphis is both going to need to exceed expectations and have the league come back to them a little if Heisley’s guarantee is going to happen.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.
After a bumpy season where the he fought with Suns coaches, then a summer where he and his twin Marcus felt they were blindsided by a trade, Markieff Morris has been plenty vocal about his unhappiness in Phoenix. To the point it has cost him some serious cash.
So what should we expect from Markieff Morris’ upcoming season?
Relative calm, I tell Jenna Corrado of NBCSports in this latest edition of PBT Extra previewing the NBA season.
The reasons are twofold. First, he has to realize the Suns aren’t trading him anyway (especially not while he publicly demands a trade, lowering his trade value). Second, can you imagine how new locker room leader Tyson Chandler is going to react to that? Chandler was brought in to fill a leadership void in the locker room, and you can bet he will make his displeasure at such team-disrupting antics known.
Still not sure if that’s enough to get the Suns to the playoffs.