NBA General Manager Survey: Memphis Grizzlies Edition

Oct 11, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (second from left) and center Marc Gasol (far right) react after a three point shot in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Philadelphia 121-91. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (second from left) and center Marc Gasol (far right) react after a three point shot in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Philadelphia 121-91. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

Every year, NBA general managers vote in anonymous polls regarding the players in the league. Check out where some Memphis Grizzlies ranked.

The NBA General Manager Survey is conducted yearly by writer John Schuhmann. GMs agreed that the Warriors are the overwhelming favorite to win the NBA Finals and that LeBron James will win his fifth MVP award. Their opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies were much more mixed, and certainly shaped by the recent injury history of the Grizz.

Western Conference Top 4

"View post on"

The Memphis Grizzlies dropped from sixth to seventh in this year’s Western Conference rankings. This is most notably due to the potential resurgence of the Utah Jazz, a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since a first round sweep at the hands of the Spurs in 2011. However, the addition of a solid point guard, George Hill, and savvy veterans, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw, have made the Jazz a popular playoff pick this year. Prominent sports writers like Zach Lowe and Kevin Arnovitz are even going as far as to predict that the Jazz will be a four-seed in this year’s playoffs.

Another surprise is the prediction that Oklahoma City Thunder  will remain a top seed in the Western Conference despite the loss of Kevin Durant. If 2014 is any indication as to how this season will play out, then this is an interesting projection.  Kevin Durant missed most of the 2014 season, and Westbrook went on a tear, averaging career highs in points per game (28.1) and usage rate (38.4 percent). The Thunder won 45 games and missed the playoffs. If the preseason is any indication, Westbrook will go nuclear this year, but I doubt it will lead to wins for the Thunder (Tangent: it WILL lead to wins for your fantasy team. Draft this man.).

So, what does all this mean for your Memphis Grizzlies? Unfortunately, as we seem to be all too familiar with at this point, the Grizzlies’ season will boil down to health. If healthy, there is reason to believe the Memphis Grizzlies could get home-court advantage this season. We’re still waiting to see the first appearances of Chandler Parsons and Tony Allen, who are both out with knee problems. Assuming a mostly healthy season, I foresee the Grizzlies as a four-seed behind the Warriors, Spurs and Clippers.

Best NBA Center

Last season, Marc Gasol won this poll in a landslide, with 65.5 percent of the vote. This year, he placed fourth behind DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. While I feel a case can certainly be made that Cousins is the best center in the league, I am not so sure about Jordan

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports /

and Davis. While Jordan is an elite defensive center, screener, and rebounder, his ability to convert free throws makes him a liability late in games. He is, of course, not a refined offensive player, but his fit alongside Chris Paul is seamless. Anthony Davis is an amazing talent and is one of the best bigs in the league when healthy, but he plays the majority of his minutes at power forward.

Davis played 54 percent of his minutes at power forward last season

I, personally, still feel that Gasol is the best center in the NBA, but he will need to be healthy and return to an All Star level of play if he wants to prove it to the rest of the league.

Best International Player

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

Once again, Marc Gasol won this poll in a blowout last season, with 62.1 percent of the vote. This season, he placed second behind Giannis Antetokounmpo. While Gasol certainly doesn’t have the wingspan or athletic ability that seems to land the Greek Freak on the Top 10 nightly, his defensive acumen and post prowess continues to lead the Grizzlies to wins, while the Bucks will likely be a lottery team once again. This impact can be shown using win shares, a statistic that can be used to show an individual’s contribution to his team’s wins. While Marc did have a down year last season, his win share per 48 for his career minutes still stands at a respectable .155, which is good for 20th in the NBA. Meanwhile, Antetokounmpos’ career WS/48 is .096, or .119, if you disregard his poor rookie season.

It seems clear to me that Antetokounmpo  will become the best international player in the league within a few short years, but for now, Gasol should remain atop this list.

Bench player that makes the biggest impact when entering the game

Z-bo comes in third in this poll behind Jamal Crawford and Andre Iguodala. It really does feel

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

strange to see Randolph on this list. It feels like just yesterday he was the No. 1 option of the Memphis Grizzlies’ offense, and suddenly he’s a bench player. I do like the ranking for Randolph, however. I think if Coach Fizdale “highlights the hell” out of Randolph like he said he would and has been so far, then Z-bo will remain productive and could be a dark horse candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.

Toughest player in the NBA

Who else could it be? Mr. First Team All-Defense, First Team All-Construction, and three-time First Team All-Toughness, Tony Allen. Allen has now won this poll three years running. Allen is the embodiment of Grit ‘n’ Grind. His heart and determination to win has been noticed by the NBA’s general managers. Not only has Allen remained relevant in the league by simply outworking and preparing his NBA colleagues, but he’s done so while playing through a myriad of injuries. In my mind, this more than qualifies the Grindfather to be considered the toughest player in the NBA.