The Curious Case of the Memphis Grizzlies Bench

The Memphis Grizzlies have the starting lineup to contend with anyone in the league. However, their bench’s reliability will prove their contender status.

The Memphis Grizzlies have one of the strongest starting lineups in the league, on paper.

Mike Conley is one of 2-way point guards in the league. Tony Allen has been named on the All-Defensive team the past five seasons (first team three times; second team twice).

Chandler Parsons is a Swiss army knife at the small forward position, being able to shoot the 3-ball, create for others and play adequate defense. Zach Randolph is still a double-double machine even as he has aged.

Marc Gasol, when healthy, is an All-NBA center with the unique ability to score, create for others and protect the rim.

The mysterious aspect of the Memphis Grizzlies is their bench. On paper, they have the makings of a solid bench. However, injuries and inexperience clouds their potential.

Feb 27, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Brandan Wright (34) goes to the basket against Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 27, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Brandan Wright (34) goes to the basket against Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Brandan Wright, when healthy, is one of the best backup big men in the NBA. Before coming to the Grizzlies, Wright played in 75 games and averaged 7.3 points on an efficient 64 percent shooting from the field, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks in less than 20 minutes of action per game.

Last season, he only played 12 games. If Wright can come back healthy, it would help Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol would not have to be rushed back after a season-ending foot injury.

For the Grizzlies, Wright will be a floor-running rim-protector for the second unit.

JaMychal Green was the best bench player throughout the year for the Memphis Grizzlies. Green averaged 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game.

He came off the bench and supplied the energy and youth the Grizzlies needed the past several years. If the bouncy power forward can expand his range, it would open up his game and the floor for the Memphis Grizzlies’ offense.

In a season cursed with injuries, Vince Carter‘s veteran presence was huge for the Memphis Grizzlies. He scored 6.6 points on 38.8 percent shooting from the field and 34.9 percent from 3. At 39 years old, his best playing days are surely behind him.

His role in mentoring Grizzlies’ young guys could go a long way for their development.

Recent signee James Ennis could be a legitimate difference maker off the bench this year. At 6’7″, the athletic wing will help the Memphis Grizzlies space the floor, as they are planning to shoot more 3-pointers and to push the tempo.

Ennis spent most of last season flying under the radar for the Grizzlies. With the New Orleans Pelicans, he flashed 3-and-D potential. In the last month of the season, Ennis averaged 17 points on 43.9 percent shooting from 3 (on 5.9 attempts per game) and 1.7 steals.

Surely, he won’t put up those kind of numbers every night, but with better playmakers, Ennis can provide a scoring spark off the bench.

Another recent free agent signee, Troy Daniels, could be a huge get for the Memphis Grizzlies. He is a 43.0 percent shooter from 3 in his three seasons in the league. Last year, for the Charlotte Hornets, he made 48.4 percent of his three-pointers on 122 attempts.

Other than that, there’s nothing else. Daniels averaged 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 0.8 steals … per 36 minutes. In order to attain significant minutes, he has to develop his all-around game.

If David Fizdale can surround him with good playmakers and solid defenders, Daniels can go out there and do his job: letting it fly.

Jarell Martin showed promise last year. In 27 games, he scored 14.5 points and grabbed 8.1 rebounds per 36 minutes. He displayed a smooth mid-range game and a solid first step.

In order to move up the depth chart, he needs to stay healthy, after numerous foot problems, and improve his defense (0.8 blocks per 36 minutes). If he can do that, he will be a quality fifth big man.

The biggest mystery for the Memphis Grizzlies: Jordan Adams.

May 13, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Jordan Adams (3) dribbles the basketball during the fourth quarter in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Grizzlies 98-78. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

May 13, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Jordan Adams (3) dribbles the basketball during the fourth quarter in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Grizzlies 98-78. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Before being sidelined for all but one game last season, he scored 13.6 points, hauled in 4.1 rebounds and averaged 2.3 steals per 36 minutes in his rookie season. After persistent knee trouble, Adams’ NBA future is in jeopardy.

If he can prove that he can stay on the court and be productive either on the Grizzlies or in the D-League, Jordan Adams could be a huge boost for their future.

Rookies Wade Baldwin and Andrew Harrison will undergo typical rookie point issues: turnovers, inconsistency, and flashes of potential.

If either one can come in next season and produce immediately, it would be a big help for not only the Memphis Grizzlies, but for Mike Conley.

Baldwin and Harrison can either backup for Conley or play alongside him.

Second-round pick Deyonta Davis should be spending time in the D-League this season.

Davis can set himself apart down the road from other young big men JaMychal Green and Jarell Martin by showing elite shot-blocking, consistent mid-range shooting and a high motor.

The Memphis Grizzlies are in position to make, yet, another run in the postseason. If they want to advance deeper in the playoffs, they must have quality production from their bench throughout the season.