Three teams posted an average age, weighted by minutes played, above 30 in last year’s playoffs.
The third: The Memphis Grizzles.
Memphis has made the playoffs the last five years – the NBA’s fourth-longest active streak behind the Spurs, Hawks and Bulls. And the Grizzlies have plenty to show for it. They pulled a 1-8 upset of the Spurs in 2011, reached the Western Conference finals in 2013 and challenged the eventual-champion Warriors more than expected in 2015. Even Memphis’ first-round losses, to the Clippers in 2012 and the Thunder in 2014, went a full seven games.
But the top accomplishment, an NBA title, has eluded the Grizzlies.
Is it too late?
Unlike San Antonio and Dallas, Memphis has intentionally preserved the status quo.
The Grizzlies will once again rely heavily on Zach Randolph (34) and Marc Gasol (30). Tony Allen (33) and Courtney Lee (30 in a few weeks) will be key on the wing. Can Mike Conley (28 in about a month) hold it all together?
Sure, Memphis has gotten younger in some spots. Brandan Wright (27) was an excellent signing.
But the other big offseason acquisition was Matt Barnes (35). The rotation is littered with old players like Vince Carter (38) and Beno Udrih (33). Jeff Green (29) hasn’t performed nearly as well as hoped since last season’s mid-year trade.
If the Grizzlies keep this core group together, it will inevitably drop off. Father Time is undefeated.
It might not happen next season, though.
Plenty of successful aging teams – the LeBron-era Heat, the Mavericks just before that and the Spurs seemingly forever – have remained successful by relying on their experience. Memphis has done that. Memphis can keep doing that. Its full of smart, savvy players.
They’ll have to be smarter than ever this season. Their athleticism is going the wrong direction, and the West is loaded.
A well-built team keeps its championship window as long as possible. The Grizzlies have had a fantastic run, and it might not be over. But if it’s not, it will be soon.
Can Memphis make another big run before its too late?