MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The 2016-17 season was filled with highs and lows for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Under rookie head coach David Fizdale, Memphis took down the reigning NBA finals runner up Golden State Warriors twice, including a thrilling overtime win in early January.
The Grizzlies also split a regular season series with the San Antonio Spurs, and put together one of the most clutch performances against the Spurs in game four of the playoffs with an overtime win.
The Grizzlies also had head scratching losses.
Like a 122 to 109 loss to the league worst Brooklyn Nets in early March during a five game losing skid.
"I'm tough on myself, so I'm probably going to give myself a C," said Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale when asked to evaluate his first season in Memphis.
Whether a C is fair or not, the impact Fizdale had on superstars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol is unquestionable.
Memphis faced much criticism entering the 2016 season after making Mike Conley the highest paid point guard in the league, but after career highs in points per game and total points in a season, Fizdale says Conley is now getting the respect he deserves.
"I saw some fight come out of this guy," Fizdale said. "I saw some swagger come out of this guy. I mean this guy was doing some AND1 moves on guys. Really making crowds go 'oh.' You know that's tough. That's Steph Curry stuff when you start making the road crowd kind of go 'oh.' That's when you're really doing some things."
Like Conley, Gasol's game evolved under Fizdale too.
Entering this season, Gasol only made 12 three pointers in his 8 year career.
In his first year under Fizdale, Gasol knocked down 104 triples.
"I think he ended up learning new layers of his game now that people have to close out to the three against him," Fizdale said. "So you see him playing like a wing almost off the dribble."
Fizdale says losing in the first round of the playoffs is not a part of the championship culture he wants to bring to Memphis, and despite the first round playoff loss to the Spurs, he's excited about the culture he established in year one.
In terms of his job, Fizdale says it's exactly what he envisioned when he pictured becoming a head coach.
"When I closed my eyes and thought about the team I would coach one day this is really what it was," Fizdale said.