Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mid-Season Player Notes: Quincy Pondexter et al

Posted By on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Wrapping this up with some quick observations on the rest of the roster. Additionally, my team overview mid-season column for this week's print addition is now online. You can read it here. Honestly, it's a better read than these blog posts. Had a little bit more time to craft it. These player posts — like most blog stuff — is basically automatic writing. But I digress …

Quincy Pondexter
Quincy Pondexter: I didn't like the Grizzlies trading Greivis Vasquez for Pondexter, especially not with Sam Young and Dante Cunningham already on the roster. But that doesn't mean I don't like Pondexter.

While he's not as physical a defender as Young, Pondexter seems more solid in team concepts and the team seems to be better with him defensively overall. And while his individual statistical profile is not as good as Young's was a season ago, he similarly seems to fit in a little better as an offensive role player as well.

Pondexter has a better looking jumper, but it remains unclear what kind of shooter he is. This season he's been very good from mid-range but shaky from three-point range. Last season in New Orleans he shot well from three — especially from the corner — but was mediocre from mid-range.

Pondexter's role seems to be expanding of late and when he plays with efficiency and energy it's a big help. There's potential here for Pondexter to be a very solid role player for the team the rest of this season and beyond. I'd like to see him get more frequent looks at that corner three to get a better gauge of his shooting ability.

Sam Young: Without injuries on the wing there's just not room for everyone and Young's been the odd-man out. And with Rudy Gay, Tony Allen, Quincy Pondexter, and Dante Cunningham all under contract next season, it's certainly looking unlikely that Young will be back.

Given all the variables in play — contract status going forward, team fit, shooting, etc. — it makes sense that Young would take a backseat to Pondexter and Cunningham in the rotation, but it still feels like the Grizzlies are wasting a legitimate player. And given that the Grizzlies seem to still be just over the luxury tax line, you'd have to assume Young is a strong candidate to be moved in some kind of minor deal before the deadline.

Jeremy Pargo/Josh Selby: The Grizzlies clearly made a big mistake in dealing Vasquez before rookies Pargo or Selby had ever played a regular-season NBA game. And while both played well in two games after Mike Conley's early ankle sprain, they've been oscillating in and out of the back-up point guard role unsuccessfully ever since.

Both have been turnover machines, even beyond the norm for rookie point guards. Among point guards with at least 10 appearances, Selby had the worst turnover ratio in the league before the All-Star break and Pargo was third from the bottom. Pargo has struggled as a scorer — shooting 33% from the floor and 22% from the three-point line — and the team has been a staggering 15 points worse, per 100 possessions, with him offensively. Despite his strength and athleticism, the defensive metrics haven't been much better.

Pargo is a rookie, and he'll hopefully settle down at some point, but at 26 there doesn't seem to be much upside here.

Selby, by contrast, is only 20 and has shown better pure offensive skills. He's shot the ball well in limited minutes both from mid-range (6-12) and in the lane (4-7) and has shown the ability to get to the rim, draw contact, and get shots off. He clearly has potential as a scorer — which he showed by averaging 22 points on 48% shooting during a recent D League stint — and hasn't been terrible defensively. The question with Selby is whether he can slash his totally unacceptable turnover rate and improve his playmaking enough to handle at least part-time minutes at the point. He's got time to do this. Clearly, Selby is not ready for consistent rotation minutes on a playoff team — especially at the point — but there's a lot of potential here.

I suspect they'll continue to alternate minutes until one really emerges. But barring a massive improvement from one, look for O.J. Mayo to continue to get back-up point guard minutes in tight situations and likely take on that role in the playoffs.

Hamed Haddadi: Averaging 5.8 minutes in 14 appearances after a delayed start to his season and the results have been the same as ever. Haddadi continues to put up an enormous rebound rate — and equally enormous turnover rate — in his limited minutes. It's not pretty when he's on the floor, but he tends to impact the game in the paint and the team rarely gets killed with him out there in short bursts. Probably a little under-used.

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