The 9 Greatest Grizzlies in history, ranked by Player Efficiency Rating (PER)

These players possess the highest Player Efficiency Ratings in Grizzlies franchise history.
Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies / Jeff Gross/GettyImages

The Memphis Grizzlies have never won an NBA championship, but they have had one of the most uniquely interesting stories during their short history in the league. From the Vancouver days to the grit-n-grind era to now, the Grizzlies and their players have always embodied the spirit of Memphis in a way few other NBA franchises do.

One of the ways we can analyze and compare the best Grizzlies players of all time is by using a stat called Player Efficiency Rating, or PER. Created by ESPN Columnist John Hollinger, this advanced stat is found by totaling up all of the positive and negative statistical achievements of a player in their career, and combining them into a single number.

We can use this number to determine how effective any given player was in their career. For reference, a PER of 15 indicates a league-average level player, with 20 being an All-Star level player and 25 or higher being MVP level. These nine Grizzlies have the highest PERs in franchise history.

9. Jaren Jackson Jr. - 17.7

Drafted in 2018, Jaren Jackson Jr. has been one of the foundational pillars of the new era of Grizzlies basketball. Earning All-Defensive First Team honors in each of the past two seasons and being named to his first All-Star team in 2023, Jackson is proving he is one of the best defensive frontcourt players in the association.

8. Mike Conley - 17.7

Synonymous with the grit-n-grind era in Memphis, Mike Conley was the team's mainstay at point guard from the time he was drafted fourth overall in 2007 until his departure in 2019. Never earning an All-Star big until after he left the Grizzlies, Conley was criminally underrated during his time with the franchise.

7. Marc Gasol - 18.5

Another of the most important players of the most famous era in Memphis, Marc Gasol first joined the Grizz in 2008 after playing professionally overseas. He was a three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA teamer during his 10 and a half seasons with the Grizzlies. It was he and Conley's departure at the 2019 trade deadline that signaled the unofficial end of the grit-n-grind generation.

6. Zach Randolph - 19.5

The other half of the Grizzlies' frontcourt throughout the 2010s, Zach Randolph played a big part in turning Memphis into a perennial playoff contender. His physical style of play and master of low-post moves led him to becoming an All-NBA team member and an All-Star twice with the Grizz, in addition to earning him a reputation as one of the toughest, most hard-nosed guys in the association.

5. Shareef Abdur-Rahim - 19.7

Selected by the Vancouver Grizzlies with the third overall pick in the 1996 draft, Shareef Abdur-Rahim was a high-powered scorer that torched defenses with his sharp shooting. One of the first star players in Grizzlies history, Abdur-Rahim played all 82 games in the 1997-98 season while shooting a career-best 41.2% from three.

4. Ja Morant - 20.3

The undisputed face of the new era of Grizzlies basketball, Ja Morant has already shown he has unlimited potential. His lethal scoring power and athletic ability has already earned him two All-Star appearances and an All-NBA Second Team appearance in 2021-22. Going forward, he will determine the direction of this franchise.

3. Brandon Clarke - 20.4

A powerful interior force, Brandon Clarke has been a mainstay in the Grizzlies' rotation since he was drafted in the first round in 2019. He has been extremely valuable to the team's success, with his absence in the 2023-24 season being one of the main contributing factors to Memphis missing the playoffs.

2. Pau Gasol - 21.6

While Pau is more known for his time in Los Angeles by many and with his brother Marc being the more well-known Grizzly, it can be easy to forget just how special Pau Gasol was in Memphis. He was the Rookie of the Year in 2002 and had multiple 20 PPG seasons, earning him an All-Star appearance in 2006. With his excellent production over seven seasons, it is not shocking to see him second on this list.

1. Jonas Valanciunas - 23.4

Joining the Grizzlies as part of the trade that dealt away Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, Jonas Valanciunas spent two and a half seasons in Memphis between 2019 and 2021. He made huge contributions to the team with his underrated combination of strength and skill.

As solid as he was during his time with the Grizzlies, many will probably be surprised to see Valanciunas at the very top of this list. But with how PER is constructed, it tends to favor post players given hoe easily they can rack up efficient points and rebounds. With that in mind, it is less peculiar that a sharpshooting big man took the top spot.

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