Blogger Knows Best: Inside the Memphis Grizzlies
Team Name: Memphis Grizzlies
Blog Name: 3Shades of Blue
Blogger Name: Joshua Coleman
1. Based on preseason expectations, how would you grade this season? Please list your team's top threeaccomplishments.
Based on my preseason expectations, which was 25-28 wins and a lot of growing pains, I have to give this season a B- at worst. The team's young players have shown some improvement and they appear to be developing familiarity and chemistry aswell.
Their top three accomplishments: 5 players have scored 30 points or more in a game this season (O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Hakim Warrick). They have not one, but two players (Mayo and Gasol) that could end up in the Top 5 in Rookie of the Yearvoting. A four-game winning streakin December that included 3 wins over playoff bound teams. For a team looking at its 3rd straight 22-win season, accomplishments are rather hard to come by.
2. How would you assess the competency of the team's current GM andscouting staff?
GM Chris Wallace was widely ridiculed in the aftermath of the Pau Gasol trade last year. However, I believe that, contrary to popular belief, the results speakfor themselves. Here are Chris Wallace's acquisitions since taking the post nearly two years ago: Mike Conley,O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol, Quinton Ross, Darko Milicic, Hamed Haddadi, Juan Carlos Navarro, Greg Buckner, Darrell Arthur, Jason Collins, plus additional first round picks for each of the next two drafts. Most of those guys won't jump off the page at you, but there's no doubt that all of them are worthy of being on an NBA team. In terms of scouting and evaluating talent, I'd put our front office up against that of any other organization inthe NBA.
3. Which young players (if any) can step to the forefront in the future?
Considering that the average age of the rotation players returning next year will be around 23 years old, I certainly hope that all ofthem will take another step forward. Now, in terms of who I believe can and will step up and take a larger role in the near future, the obvious choice is O.J. Mayo. He's mature beyond his years and oncehe adjusts to the grind that is the NBA season, I believe that he'll be able to put this team on his shoulders and carry them back to the playoffs.
4. Time to play fantasy GM: what move that was made the past few yearswould you undo and what move would you currently make for the team to assessimmediate or long term needs?
After careful consideration, I wouldn't hire Marc Iavaroni as the head coach until after hiring Chris Wallace as the GM. I don't know that it would have changed anything, as Ivy still would have been the logical choice to take the headcoaching position, but I think that it set a bad precedent, given that I believe the GM should have input on the coaching hires.
For the Grizzlies, all moves that need to be made should be done with long-term goals in mind. Too often fans see the "get rich quick" way of doing thingsand fail to take the big picture into account. I want the Grizzlies to model themselves after the long-term success of the similarly small-market teams like the Jazz and Spurs, which means having a vision and sticking to it, rather than being distracted by every shiny toy that comes on the market.
With that said, here are the areas that I believe need to be addressed. First, they have to get a power forward that has the potential to be an 18/8 player, who can defend and hit the mid-range shot to complement Marc Gasol in the post. Then they need to address the bench PG/SG/SF positions, as the depth behind Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gaydoesn't inspire much confidence, although I do believe that Quinton Ross shouldbe offered a reasonable contract to stick around. Basically, the team needs depth at every position other than Center, where Gasol, Darko Milicic and the surprising Hamed Haddadi are all skilled, legit 7-footers. Just as importantly, that depth needs to be of the veteran variety, since this team has more than enough youth already.
5. Best case scenario: wherewould you realistically like to see your team at this time next year?
Absolute best case scenario, I see the team looking for 40 wins next year. That could happenif the team drafts wisely (which I'm confident they will) and uses their cap space to swing a trade with a team looking to shed salary, as none of the unrestricted free agents this offseason really inspire much excitement for me, although I wouldn't mind trying to steal Marquis Daniels away from the Pacers if they don't exercise their team option on him or trying to sign either Juan Dixon or Anthony Parker to provide some veteran depth in the backcourt. But even if all the breaks go their way (win the lottery, swing a great trade or free agent signing, team chemistry develops), then I still don't think they can do much better than 35 wins next year. I'm ok with that though. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day and neither are most long-term success stories.
For all your Memphis Grizzlies coverage, go to www.3ShadesOfBlue.com.