Since I'm unable to be in Nashville this week taking in the scene at Grizzlies training camp, I'm stuck back here in Memphis searching for
something to write about clues that will tell us what to expect from this year's Griz squad. By all accounts (mostly from Pete Pranica and Ron Tillery on Twitter, here on the outside of The Great Paywall) coach Dave Joerger has the team doing fast-paced drills trying to reinforce decision-making on the fly, getting the team used to operating in an offense that doesn't wait until there are seven seconds left on the shot clock to get going.
I thought this note from Pranica was interesting:
Second @memgrizz practice finished. Controlled scrimmaging with :12 shot clock. Idea is to train quick decision-making. #GreaterMemphis
— Pete Pranica (@PetePranica) October 2, 2013
Could this really be the end of watching the Grizzlies head into the last minutes of a close game and start every possession by having Mike Conley dribble at the top of the key for eight seconds while Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph bludgeon their respective ways into position? Ball movement in the Griz offense improved by swapping Rudy Gay for Tayshaun Prince, even if Prince couldn't match Gay's scoring. He didn't have to; he's a good passer and an excellent facilitator. The missing piece was still the sense of urgency in the offense—how many possessions consisted of four guys standing around while Z-Bo posted someone up, and when the Grizzlies received the offensive rebound, they went right back to standing around while the post players got into position?
The thing that struck me most about Grizzlies Media Day yesterday was the ease. On the eve of training camp at Vanderbilt in Nashville, they all seemed comfortable with where they were at, comfortable with their situation, free to talk about the roles each player will have to play for the team to be successful this year—even when that meant talking about the fact that the Grizzlies are capable of going eleven or twelve guys deep if they have to, and that that depth necessarily means that minutes are going to be hard to come by for guys who don't establish themselves in the rotation. At no point did anyone seem tense, or withdrawn, or even uncomfortable with what was going on around them.
What was going on around them was that each player sat at a little round bistro table with a black tablecloth on it, and guys like me (and, more often, guys with big honking TV cameras and lights and microphones with little cubic TV station logo boxes on them) grilled them for twenty minutes on everything from conditioning to whether they thought Lionel Hollins was a jerk to what restaurants they frequent in Memphis1.