Despite the whole “big market, small market” talk, it has now been proven that the 2011-12 NBA lockout wasn’t for nothing. And that proof is the Memphis Grizzlies.
During their six seasons in the Great White North, they weren’t necessarily the team to watch, which led to their eventual relocation to the south. Carrying over from their Vancouver days, the Grizzlies had a rocky start upon arriving in Memphis, then picked things up by making the playoffs in 2004 for the first time in franchise history. Just as every team has its ups and downs, the Grizz fell back into a pit of the NBA’s desolate, where they went into a rebuilding phase. A few questionable trades that look a lot better in hindsight, and some lottery picks that luckily panned out, and it’s looking like the Grizzlies have bucked the trend of small market teams being bottom feeders.
Granted, it hasn’t been easy, seeing as they’re currently on their twelfth head coach (current HC has been head coach for Memphis two times before) in franchise history.
After bringing back Lionel Hollins in the middle of the 2008-09 season, the team immediately turned things around the next year, winning 16 more games than the previous season. Barely missing the playoffs, the team restocked and reloaded, improving their record once again to clinch a playoff seed. Despite being the 8th seed, the Grizzlies knocked off the San Antonio Spurs, and took the Oklahoma City Thunder to a decisive game 7, where they fell to the eventual Western Conference Champions.
Coming back with a vengeance, they got even better, had a higher winning percentage (despite the lockout), but faltered early on, losing in the first round.
Channeling the energy from their run two years ago, the Grizzlies put together their best regular season record yet, and unsurprisingly advanced to the Western Conference Finals once again, putting the talk of needing a big city location in order to succeed to rest.