Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Crystal ball: Which ’13 postseason darling comes out looking better in ’14, the Warriors or the Grizzlies?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Golden State. Memphis has more work to do, notably settling its coaching situation – let Lionel Hollins leave at your own risk, Grizz! – and adding shooters. With enough duct tape, baling wire and prayer, Mike Miller might be a good start. But Golden State needs only to take the surgical route, the way it did adding Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack. Mark Jackson‘s ministrations seem to click with his guys, and having both Andrew Bogut and David Lee healthy (unless Lee winds up elsewhere) could leap-frog the Warriors past Memphis.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Two questions: Are Curry and Bogut healthy for Warriors? Is Hollins back with the Grizzlies? Based on their track records, I’d have to assume Curry and Bogut will miss time and it will be costly. I’ll assume Memphis’ front office isn’t dumb enough to let the best coach in franchise history walk out the door. So Hollins will keep the Memphis defense grinding on. Edge to Grizzlies.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Wow, there are so many variables at work here like who’s coaching the Grizzlies? If it’s not Lionel Hollins I really wonder what the fate of Zach Randolph will be. Memphis could be facing at an interesting transition if Hollins is not retained. My take is the majority of the players really love him, especially Mike Conley. At this very moment, there’s more continuity with the Warriors. The big question for that bunch is the ability of Andrew Bogut and Steph Curry to remain healthy. So judging this thing on May 29, give me the Warriors.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: It’s very tough to say without knowing what happens in free agency — two important players (Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry) hit the open market for the Warriors while one important player (Tony Allen) and the coach (Lionel Hollins) for the Grizzlies. But for the sake of discussion, if you want to say based on the rosters of the moment staying in place, I’ll go Grizz. While Golden State has the youth that signals it will be better in the long term, Memphis of 2013-14 will defend and rebound at the highest levels, will be able to depend more on its best players (as I jinx Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Allen into injuries) and now have the confidence that comes with reaching a conference final.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Great question. I want to say it will be the Grizzlies, because I generally favor the better defensive team, and I think Memphis has a clear Achilles heel (perimeter shooting) that can be addressed in the offseason. But they also have some other (and significant) questions (fate of Hollins and Randolph) entering the summer and were the healthier team this season. If the Warriors can get close to a full season of Andrew Bogut, they can take another step forward defensively next year and possibly rank in the top 10 on both ends of the floor. So I guess my answer is Golden State.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: My gut says Grizzlies but my head tells me the Warriors are better positioned heading into the 2013-14 season. So much of this depends on what the Grizzlies do with Lionel Hollins. Changing coaches on a team good enough to make the Western Conference finals would have a significant impact on what that team is capable of in the next season, particularly without any major roster changes. The Grizzlies’ core will remain intact for another season, barring any offseason surprises. The Warriors, on the other hand, have a higher ceiling for next season and potentially beyond. And Mark Jackson isn’t going anywhere. So they should be better team than the one we saw fall to the San Antonio Spurs if they just get all of their main contributors into training camp in good health. Both of their bandwagons should be full for next season.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I still feel like Golden State is a season or two away from jumping into that next level of contender status, mostly because it’s going to be tough for the Warriors to make any significant changes until the summer of 2014, when they lose a couple of their heftier salaries. Memphis has its core, and if the Grizzlies can just find a consistent outside shooter to add to the mix for next season, they’re an even more dangerous team. Golden State might be better long-term with this crew, but for the immediate future, Memphis is nearly there.
Aldo Avinante, NBA Philippines: Both teams will certainly come back stronger and better but the main factor is their health. If Steph Curry’s ankles hold up the whole season, the Warriors will be battling for home-court advantage for the playoffs next year. Meanwhile, Memphis will hope that Zach Randolph will not regress and Marc Gasol will continue his growth as a player to have an even greater impact on the offensive end. With all that being said, I believe that Memphis will be a stronger team because of their depth and experience over the Warriors.
Pawel Weszka, NBA Africa: The Warriors. With so much youth and talent on their roster, I am not sure they have scratched the surface of future possibilities just yet. With David Lee healthy, Steph Curry ankle-problem free and more mature Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli (yes, another African to watch!), they will be top challengers in the West. If they can add some more strength in the middle, they will be a much tougher team to beat. This young Golden State team knows they had a great season and pushed the extraordinary Spurs to their highest level. They know they are hot. Do the Grizzlies?
Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: The easy guess would be the Warriors. They have a young, talented core (Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Lee, Bogut) and only one true piece of the puzzle that needs a new contract: Jarrett Jack. They’ve put a strong regular season, a deep playoff run and a proven ability to fight through adversity under their belt, all of which will serve as excellent lessons for next year’s run. Their biggest issue was injuries, so if they manage to stay healthy, they can turn into one of the most fascinating teams of the West. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, have to deal with the their coach first, as many teams will try to lure away Lionel Hollins, who is free this summer. That’s the big question mark next to their name, as their three key players (Conley, Randolph and Gasol) are under contract and they have the base to build on this year’s success (don’t forget they forced two very talented teams into early holidays). But, compared to the young Warriors they have less room for improvement. No doubt about that.