It’s early in the NBA season, but the Memphis Grizzlies already look to be in playoff form. With contributions from players such as Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Courtney Lee and Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies have the look of a prime contender in the Western Conference. However, it’s the man on the bench that has had the biggest effect on this team in head coach Dave Joerger.

At 40 years old, Joerger is relatively young for an NBA head coach, but he has already proven he is among the league’s best. Joerger got his coaching start with the Grizzlies in 2007, when he become an assistant coach for the team. During his time as assistant, Joerger became the team’s defensive specialist. As a result, Joerger took the Grizzlies from the 24th overall defense in 2010 to 2nd in 2013.

Due to his exceptional defensive exploits, the Grizzlies decided to name Joerger head coach when Lionel Hollins was let go after the 2013 season. In his first season at the helm, Joerger led the Grizzlies to a 50-32 record which was good for 3rd in the Southwest Division.

The Grizzlies made the playoffs, but ultimately lost in the first round. During the off-season, Joerger was rumored to be a candidate for the Minnesota Timberwolves vacant head coaching position, but Memphis showed faith in its young coach by signing him to a three-year contract extension.

This season, Joerger has brought the Grizzlies to new heights. Currently, the Grizzlies are first in the NBA in points allowed, only giving up 92.4 to opposing offenses. The team has also averaged 8.3 steals per game, which beats last season’s average of 7.7 per contest. The Memphis Grizzlies are not only an effective defensive team, but they have also seen growth on the offensive end as well. This season, Memphis has put up 100.4 points per game, an average which beats last year’s mark of 96.1 points scored.

In addition, the Grizzlies have decreased their turnovers from 13.7 to 12.8 per game. Joerger has Memphis playing in tip-top shape and will undoubtedly get this team back into the playoffs, but can he lead them to the promised land? It might be too early to say, but Joerger is certainly going in the right direction.

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