Memphis Grizzlies: Playoff Appearances and Key Players
Memphis Grizzlies History and Highlights.
The Memphis Grizzlies compete in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the NBA. They play their home games at the FedEx Forum. They are currently the only professional sports team located in Memphis.
Founding and Early Years
The Grizzlies were founded in 1995 and joined the NBA as the Vancouver Grizzlies as the league expanded to Canada. The team found no success in Vancouver and found it hard to sign any valuable free agents willing to relocate to Vancouver.
The Move to Memphis
After six seasons in British Columbia, the team eventually moved to Memphis and things immediately started looking up for the Grizzlies. After the 2001 NBA Draft, the Grizzlies traded Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Jamaal Tinsley to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the third pick Pau Gasol, Lorenzen Wright, and Brevin Knight. In the same draft, the Grizzlies selected Shane Battier, who made a good young core team member. The Grizzlies also acquired Jason Williams from the Sacramento Kings, sending Mike Bibby to California.
Pau Gasol proved to be a real deal winning the Rookie of the Year award and becoming the first European player to win that award.
The Path to Success
After a couple of years, the Grizzlies found the way to their first playoff appearance in 2004. In fact, they made three consecutive Playoff berths but were swept in the first round on all three occasions by the San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks.
After failing to find any significant success, the Memphis Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, and the rights to Pau’s younger brother, Marc Gasol. They selected Hasheem Thabeet with the second overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, but the center from Tanzania proved to be one of the biggest busts in the decade despite having a solid college career at UConn.
Memphis decided to take a shot on Allen Iverson, but the four-time scoring champion left Memphis after only three games as he was unwilling to accept a bench role.
In 2009, the Memphis Grizzlies signed power forward Zach Randolph and from the very next season, things turned out good for the Grizzlies. Randolph and Gasol made a great pair in the paint and the Grizzlies finished the 2010-11 season with a 46-36 record, making their first playoff appearance in five years. They stunned the San Antonio Spurs, winning in six games in the opening round but then lost Game 7 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round.
2013 Western Conference Finals
The greatest success in Memphis Grizzlies’ history came in the 2012-13 season when they reached the Western Conference Finals. With Gasol, Randolph, Mike Conley Jr. at the point, and the defensive specialist Tony Allen, the Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first two rounds before being swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals.
The core of the team stayed in the next four years, and Memphis made the Playoffs in that stint but never went past the second round.
Ja Morant Era
After 2017, all of the Memphis Grizzlies players that were part of the Playoff teams departed, and a new era began in 2019 when the team selected Ja Morant with the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Morant quickly became the best young talent in the league. He made the All-Star team in 2022 and won the Most Improved Player Award. The Grizzlies finished the 2021-22 season as the second seed in the Western Conference and defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in the opening round of the playoff.
In the second round, the Grizzlies went against the Golden State Warriors but unfortunately, Ja Morant got hurt in game 4 and that made all the difference in that series. After being 3-1 down, the Grizzlies demolished the Warriors by 134-95 in a game in which they led as many as 55 points. Anyway, the Warriors won the next game and put an end to the Grizzlies’ magnificent season.