The Memphis Grizzlies were founded in 1995, but originally the club was a Vancouver expansion team as the NBA made its big push in Canada in the mid-90s. In 2001 the team was relocated to the city of Memphis and thus the NBA is the only top 5 sports league with a presence in the city.
While the Memphis Grizzlies have never won an NBA championship, they have had some great eras, mainly the Marc Gasol era, and in 2012/13 the club made it to the conference finals where they were defeated by the San Antonio Spurs. With a relatively short history the Grizzlies have had some amazing players play for them over the years, let’s countdown the best Memphis Grizzlies in history!
Honorable mentions: Bonzi Wells, Sam Young, Bryant Reeves, Mike Bibby, Tony Massenburg, Allen Iverson
25. Brian Cardinal - PF
Stats: Points: 2,108, Rebounds: 1,050, Assists: 465
Accolades: ULEB Eurocup champion
Brian Cardinal was a strong power forward and played four seasons with the Grizzlies in which he averaged 6 points and 2.5 rebounds per season with the team. Cardinal was a good go to roster player and while injuries diminished his playing time near the end of his stint with the team, he still had career highs in field goal percentage and free throws.
24. Vince Carter - SG
Stats: Points: 25,728, Rebounds: 6,606, Assists: 4,714
Accolades: 8- time NBA All-Star, NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion, NBA Sportsmanship Award, NBA Teammate of the Year
Vince Carter’s time in Memphis may not have been what was expected but it was still pretty darn good, in Carter’s three seasons with the team he did have a few highlight games, such as a season-high 18 points against the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. He was a role model for many on the roster, winning a Teammate of the year award in the 2015/16 season. While with the Grizzlies Carter became the oldest player in the NBA to have 20-points in a game against the Denver Nuggets.
23. Mario Chalmers - PG
Stats: Games Played: 646, Points per Game: 8.9, Rebounds per game: 2.5
Accolades: NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2009)
Mario Chalmers had two injury plagued seasons with the Grizzlies but off the bench in his first season he averaged 10 points per game, and had a field goal percentage of .417. He maintained those numbers in his second season but was cut at season's end. Chalmers went on to have a standout career in Europe where he plays today.
22. Stromile Swift - C
Stats: Games Played: 547, Points Per Game: 8.4
Accolades: CBA All-Star (2010)
Stromile Swift had two stints with the Grizzlies, he was a number two draft pick in Vancouver, and is most remembered for giving the Grizzlies their first win upon their move to Memphis. Known for his athleticism Swift was best used off the bench by the team.
21. Chucky Atkins - PG
Stats: Points: 6,863, Rebounds: 1,186, Assists: 2,396
Accolades: NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2000)
Chucky Atkins played only two seasons in Memphis, but he was pivotal in those two seasons, forming a good partnership with Gasol. Fans will always remember him as being a part of the franchise when the team made it to their first NBA Playoffs. Atkins averaged 13 points per game in his last season with the team in 2006/07.
20. JaMychal Green - C
Stats: Games played: 362, Points Per Game: 8.1
Accolades: NBA D-League All-Star (2015)
JaMychal Green was all heart and toughness at Center for the Grizzlies. Green played 5 seasons with the team and had his best season in 2017/18 averaging 10 points per game during that 55-game run. Green was also a part of the teams most recent playoff run in 2016/2017, he moved on to the Clippers and now plays for the Denver Nuggets.
19. Dillon Brooks - SG
Stats: Games Played: 173, Points per Game: 12.8
Accolades: Pac-12 Player of the Year (2017)
Dillon Brooks is coming off his best season yet with the club, averaging 16.2 points per game in 2019/2020. Brooks has shown that he is a player the franchise can build around as he has had some memorable moments last season. Mainly his 32-point performance against the Kings in February 2020. Brooks recently signed a contract extension with Memphis and is a huge piece of the team moving forward.
18. Jonas Valanciunas - C
Stats: Games Played: 559 Points Per Game: 12.4
Accolades: 2- Time FIBA Young Player of the Year (2011, 2012)
The Lithuanian center was the main piece of the trade that sent legend Marc Gasol to the Raptors. Jonas Valanciunas is a rebound monster averaging 11.2 rebounds per game. Valanciunas also has some of the best post-game interviews of the team. Another big piece of the team moving forward Valanciunas has been a solid pick up so far for the club.
17. Darrell Arthur - PF
Stats: Games: 503, Points per Game: 6.5
Accolades: NCAA champion (2008)
Darrell Arthur was a very good pick-and-roll player and known as a mid-range shooter, he played 4 seasons with the team. Arthur’s best season came in 2010/11 with an average of 9 points per game and field goal percentage of .497 in 80 games. He had a memorable game in the NBA Playoffs in 2011 against the San Antonio Spurs.
16. Jaren Jackson Jr. - PF
Stats: Games Played: 115, Points Per Game: 15.5
Accolades: NBA All-Rookie First Team (2019)
Jaren Jackson Jr is coming off a strong second season with the Grizzlies, many pundits have him becoming a star in Memphis. Jackson is the youngest player to make the All-Rookie first team, he has strong shooting and shot blocking abilities and is the cornerstone of the Grizzlies rebuilding process.
15. Courtney Lee - SG
Stats: Games: 811, Points Per Game: 9.6
Accolades: Sun Belt Player of the Year (2008)
Courtney Lee played three seasons with the Grizzlies, where he averaged 10 points per game during the regular season and was a part of two playoff teams in his three seasons. Lee is remembered for his 20 points against Portland in the 2015 playoffs.
14. James Posey - F
Stats: Points: 4,214, Rebounds: 4,532, Assists: 903
Accolades: NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2000)
James Posey played for the team for only two seasons but provided a lot of memories especially in his first season. Considered by many to be the best player on the 2003/2004 squad, he was a clutch three-point shooter and defensive work horse. Posey was a part of the team’s first ever playoff team and that cannot be forgotten.
13. O.J. Mayo - SG
Stats: Games Played: 547, Points Per Game: 13
Accolades: NBA All-Rookie First Team (2009)
The troubled but talented O.J. Mayo is high on our list because of his talent, not because of his professionalism. Mayo was solid in his first two seasons in Memphis averaging 18 and 17 points per game respectively, then in 2011 his decline began, with a 10-game doping suspension for the steroid dehydroepiandrosterone. In 2016 he was suspended by the NBA for a drug violation and has been playing abroad since. He is a sad what could have been story, but his first two seasons are extremely memorable.
12. Jason Williams - PG
Stats: Points: 8,286, Rebounds: 1,810, Assists: 4,611
Accolated: NBA All-Rookie First Team (1999)
Jason Williams was a four-year solid starter, one of the team's best work horses in history. Williams and Gasol had a good one-two punch where Williams would find Pau with quick passing so the big man could score. Williams did return for a second stint but let’s not talk about that.
11. Rudy Gay - F
Stats: Games Played: 946, Points Per Game: 17
Accolades: 2- Time FIBA World Cup Champion
Rudy Gay spent seven seasons with Memphis and is in the top 5 in points, rebounds, and steals in franchise history. Gay had a remarkable second season averaging 20 points in 2007/08. A big contract and a change in the teams playing style sent him to Toronto, but he is a player the fans will not forget soon.
10. Lorenzen Wright - PF
Stats: Points: 6,191, Rebounds: 4,943, Assists: 622
Accolades: First-team All-Conference USA (1996)
Lorenzen Wright was a “dream” according to then Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown, in his five seasons with the team he averaged 11 points per game and was a part of 3 playoff teams for Memphis, playing the best basketball of his career in Memphis. Unfortunately, Wright’s life ended tragically while playing for Cleveland when he was murdered over his $1-million life insurance policy by his ex-wife.
9. Shane Battier - F
Stats: Points: 8,408, Rebounds: 4,082, Assists: 1,717
Accolades: NBA All-Rookie First Team (2002), NBA Teammate of the Year (2014)
Shane Battier began his career in Memphis and would go on to win two NBA championships in Miami. While with the Grizzlies, Battier was the main piece of the team in their first season in the city, becoming the first true face of the franchise in a new market.
8. Mike Miller - SG
Stats: Points: 10,973, Rebounds: 4,376, Assists: 2,666
Accolades: NBA Rookie of the Year (2001)
Mike Miller is one of the leaders in franchise history in 3-pointers, and he holds the record for most points in a single game at 45. In his 6 seasons Miller had an average of 14 points and was a NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award winner. A solid contributor, Miller is one of the best players in team history.
7. Tony Allen - SG
Stats: Games Played: 820, Points Per Game: 8.1
Accolades: 3-time NBA All-Defensive First Team (2012, 2013, 2015)
Tony Allen changed the franchise, literally, coming to Memphis as a free agent he became a huge part of the hard working “grit and grind” Grizzlies. A defensive beast, he made the All-Defensive team in six of his seven seasons with the team. During his career in Memphis Allen had at least an average of 4 rebounds per game. Allen is also a local hero to the Grizzlies fans.
6. Ja Morant - PG
Stats: Games Played: 67, Points Per Game: 17.8
Accolades: NBA 2020 Rookie of the year
Ja Morant is the future of the Memphis Grizzlies, no question about it, coming off a Rookie of the year season. A small market team in need of a huge star, Morant could be that player, he led all rookies in assists with an average of 7.1 per game and 17.8 points per game. He is only on a two-year deal so the team will need to lay out the big bucks before someone else does, this kid is a keeper!
5. Pau Gasol - C
Stats: Games Played: 1,226, Points Per Game: 17
Accolades: 6-time NBA All-Star, 2002 NBA Rookie of the year, 1 FIBA World Cup
Pau Gasol had a breakout rookie year in Memphis and went on to be one of the greatest imports in NBA history. Skillful on so many levels, he was the big star on a poor team. In his seven seasons he was a leader in points, rebounds, and assists and eventually made three playoff appearances with the Grizzlies.
4. Shareef Abdur-Rahim - F
Stats: Points: 15,028, Rebounds: 6,239, Assists: 2,109
Accolades: 2002 NBA All-Star
Shareef Abdur-Rahim takes us back to the Vancouver days, where he led the team in points per game at 18.7. Abdur-Rahim was the star player of the Vancouver days, averaging 20 points per game during those years. When the team moved, so did he to Atlanta where he continued his NBA career, but the club cannot forget its first true star, even if it wasn’t in Memphis.
3. Mike Conley - PG
Stats: Games Played: 835, Points Per Game: 14.9
Accolades: 3-time NBA Sportsmanship Award (2014, 2016, 2019)
Mike Conley is a part of that “Core Four” in Memphis Grizzlies history, what else can be said about a player who played 12 years for the team? Conley is the leader in scoring, games played, 3-pointers, assists, and steals. A leader on and off the court, Conley was the Memphis Grizzlies.
2. Zach Randolph - PF
Stats: Points: 18,578, Rebounds: 10,208, Assists: 2,049
Accolades: 2-time NBA All-Star, 2004 NBA most improved player
Eight years in Memphis and Zach Randolph is at well-deserved number 2, a part of the franchise's conference finals in 2013. A team leader, he pushed and shoved his way to the basket and was a solid one-two combination with Marc Gasol and above all he was the heart and soul of the team.
1. Marc Gasol - C
Stats: 839 Games Played, Points Per Game: 14.6
Accolades: 3-Time NBA All-Star, 2-Time World Cup winner, NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2013)
Marc Gasol is the greatest Grizzlie of all time, he is the only player to represent the franchise in three All-Star games and he won defensive player of the year. A solid shot blocker and rebounder, he was the central figure of the “grit & grind,” era. Gasol has had a legendary career when you factor in his national team career as well. No question he is the most decorated player in team history.