By Derek Denneny, Contributing NBA Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Memphis Grizzlies had their best season in franchise history, but made one of the more puzzling moves in the offseason after deciding not to renew Lionel Hollins' contract.
Despite the fantastic finish, the Grizzlies were swept from the Western Conference Finals by the San Antonio Spurs, leaving Hollins' job in limbo.
It's not typical for a team that finished better than ever had before to let their leader walk, but the Grizzlies did just that.
Dave Joerger will replace Hollins as the team's head coach after spending the past five seasons as an assistant.
"Not only do we think Dave will continue to grow the team's league-best defensive identity, but we believe we have one of the league's budding coaching talents to lead our team," said CEO & managing partner Jason Levien.
Luckily for Joerger, he will have all of Memphis' key players back as the Grizzlies make another run at a championship.
While Memphis' roster looks mostly the same, the Grizzlies added three-point specialist Mike Miller. Memphis finished dead last in three-pointers made with just 4.7 per game. Miller is a career 40.6 percent shooter from behind the arc.
The Grizzlies will still rely on Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley to carry the majority of the workload.
Conley had the best season of his career, averaging 14.6 ppg, 6.1 apg and 2.2 spg before emerging in the playoffs as one of the best point guards in the NBA. Conley averaged 17 points and 7.1 assists over 15 postseason games.
Randolph led the Grizzlies with 15.4 ppg and 11.2 rpg last season. After a rocky start to his career, Randolph has morphed into one of, if not, the best, power forwards in the league.
Gasol, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, has continued to be the unsung hero for this team, providing quite possibly the best all-around game in the league. Gasol can beat you inside, then step out and knock down a jumper. He can rebound with anyone in the league and plays some of the stiffest defense in the NBA. All-the-while providing his teammates with countless looks as the NBA's top passing big man.
But, as Levien said, the Grizzlies are built on defense and it all starts with Tony Allen.
Allen is one of the league's best on-ball defenders. He can take any team's superstar out of the game with his tenacity on the defensive end. He may not have the best offensive game, but will more than make up for it on D.
With Allen spearheading the defense, Memphis held opponents to an NBA-best 89.3 points per game on 43.5 percent shooting.
Although most of Memphis' success has stemmed from its defense, the Grizzlies will have to find more ways to score to repeat its successful run from last season.
2012-13 Results: 56-25, 2nd in Southwest; Lost in West Finals to San Antonio.
ADDITIONS: G Mike Miller, G Jamaal Franklin, C Kosta Koufos
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:
PG- Mike Conley SG- Tony Allen SF- Tayshaun Prince PF- Zach Randolph C- Marc Gasol
KEY RESERVES: G Mike Miller, G Jamaal Franklin, G Jerryd Bayless, F Jon Leuer, F Ed Davis, C Kosta Koufos
FRONTCOURT: Gasol and Randolph form one of the top combination of big men in the league as each possesses a unique set of skills offensively to stretch the floor. Prince is one of the "longest" players in the league and has the ability to alter opponent's shots with his long arms.
BACKCOURT: Conley could be the most underrated point guard in the league. With his playmaking abilities and physical gifts, and Allen's lock-down defensive pressure, they've formed one of the more premiere backcourts in the West. Look for Conley to continue his strong play from the postseason to help lead the Grizzlies back to the playoffs.
BENCH: Bayless is one of the NBA's best backup point guards, providing scoring and defense off the bench. Miller will add the three-point threat Memphis has desperately needed and Koufos added solid rebounding when Gasol and Randolph need breathers.
"We feel that one of our strengths this year is depth. We want to see guys do more in less time. Not to say guys don't play hard, but we want to keep them from getting slow," Joerger said.
One player to watch will be rookie Jamaal Franklin, who could score at will while at San Diego State. Although Franklin will be facing much stiffer competition in the NBA, he will provide a scoring spark off the bench.
COACHING: The biggest question mark surrounding the team is Joerger. After serving as an assistant under Hollins for the past five season, it is likely Joerger will implement a similar style for the Grizzlies this season.
Joerger would like to see his team play at a faster pace in 2013-14 and also spread the floor more. Specifically, Joerger would like to see more of Randolph in the high-post, clearing out traffic around the basket for Gasol.
Additionally, Randolph has above-average skills off the dribble for a guy his size, and can use his large frame to out muscle and beat defenders to the rim.
"When Marc and Zach get the ball in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, we're much for effective. Not only do they score, but we score more often. We're not going to run up and down and take 25-foot jumpers, but we will look to move around a lot more," said Joerger.
OUTLOOK: Memphis improved its bench, but is tweaking its system. With the offense geared toward more possessions and shots early in the clock, the Grizzlies have a chance to take a step forward offensively. While Joerger will look to change the offense a bit, it is still instrumental to this team to play defense at a high level. Spacing the floor will only help Randolph and Gasol thrive, and a faster-paced game is more suitable for Conley, a speedy guard. Look for Memphis to compete for the Western Conference crown once again.
10/16 13:03:47 ET