Sam Amick of USA Today had a piece on Sunday that caught the attention of some of us who watch the Grizzlies. The piece is an examination of the impact of Marc Gasol's knee injury on the Grizzlies, and how the team is expected to fare until Gasol returns. Amick talked to LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers, who said that Gasol is "the engine behind that team." Then, he talked to three NBA advance scouts—guys who travel around from town to town scouting opponents for NBA teams—what they thought of the situation. Remember, these are presumably actual scouts who work for actual NBA teams.
From Scout #1:
I hate to beat a dead horse but trading (Rudy) Gay (to the Toronto Raptors) last season, then firing (coach Lionel) Hollins this summer, is, and will continue to haunt them.
From Scout #2:
What can't be overlooked is that he knows where every player is suppose to be on the court and many times has to direct Zach where to go. He is also a smart, positional defender. In addition, he is competitive and is a quiet, but respected leader in the locker room. Koufos will give them solid minutes, but now Ed Davis or (third-year forward) Jon Leuer will have to contribute key minutes in relief.
From Scout #3:
It will make them more perimeter-oriented and rely on Koufos, who is a glorified (NBA Development League player). They will find out if Ed Davis is the real deal or not. ... At one time management thought his presence made Randolph expendable, which is laughable. Guys like Jon Leuer will have to play some minutes, and he wouldn't be good in the D-League.
Which one of these three scouts sounds like someone who actually has watched a lot of Grizzlies games? Hint: not Scout #1 or Scout #3.
Remember, these are guys (I assume they're guys) who get paid money by NBA teams to go watch other teams and report back on what they look like and how best to game-plan to beat them. There is a guy who gets paid money by an NBA franchise to report back that Kosta Koufos—81-game starter for the 3rd-seed Denver Nuggets last year—is a "glorified D-League player." What does that even mean? And saying that Jon Leuer "wouldn't be good in the D-League": Jon Leuer has played in the D-League and I think averaging almost 20-10 is "good."
If anything, the quotes from these scouts just illustrate the divide between the basketball media and players, coaches, and scouts in the league. Guys like that are how players like Rudy Gay—a good-but-not-great talent who has never developed his game much—end up with $19,000,000 contracts that financially hamstring franchises. At some point, the scouts are going to be looking at the same data as everyone else, right? Until then, they're going to keep perpetuating the same myths we've heard over and over, and teams are going to keep failing to make the most informed decisions possible.
The Pondexter Affair
I just used that title because it sounds like a crappy spy novel. What I mean is that Quincy Pondexter got a DNP Monday night against the Rockets, which is somewhat unexpected. The word—as reported by Chris Vernon on Twitter during Monday's game—was that the team had decided on a rotation and he was the odd man out.
I said this in my game recap, but I don't think that's the kind of decision that should be made before a game and stuck to no matter what. Pondexter has been pretty bad all year, yes, but when Jerryd Bayless is shooting 1-7 and not accomplishing anything, what does it hurt to throw Pondexter in and see what happens? If anything, even if he's not doing much, he's going to play hard enough that maybe he'll make a defensive play or get to the free throw line.
I'm not saying I think Pondexter has earned the right to play; this season, he hasn't. But I think going "ride or die" with Mike Miller and Jerryd Bayless as your only backup 2-guards when you have Pondexter, who is young enough to hand the minutes Mike Miller is playing while Mike Miller isn't, just sitting there looking at his shoes is a mistake. It illustrates some of the lineup issues we've seen so far in the Joerger Era—things that are probably to be expected from a guy who's still only coached 14 games as an NBA head coach: he leaves certain guys (and certain groups of guys) on the floor far longer than he should, and doesn't get other guys on the court enough. If Jerryd Bayless is out there laying bricks, and you're committed to not playing Pondexter, why not put in Jamaal Franklin? Why not do something other than leave Bayless out there playing about as well as I would?
Deciding that Pondexter isn't going to play before the game and sticking to it while Jerryd Bayless plays like a dirty diaper: not a decision I can get behind.
Grizzlies at Celtics
The last time these two teams played, back in the "are the Grizzlies going to be terrible this year?" period of the early season, the Grizzlies had to fight tooth-and-nail not to lose to the Celtics at FedExForum. Kelly Olynyk looked like an actual basketball player, and some dude name Vitor Faverani had 5 points and 6 rebounds. Needless to say, it wasn't the Grizzlies' finest hour.
Tonight the game is in Boston rather than in Memphis, but I expect the team to play much differently. This time, they're going to have to play well to get on track as a team in the absence of Marc Gasol; good minutes together (and time playing with groups of guys that haven't played together much yet) will go a long way towards making sure the Grizzlies can stay on the right track while Gasol is on the mend.
Last time these two teams played each other, Jeff Green scored 22 points on 6-12 shooting, taking advantage of the Grizzlies' porous defense. The Griz have to do a better job of protecting the lane tonight, which is easier said than done given the lack of a large Spanish body to fill it with. I think the Grizzlies will win tonight, but I don't expect it to be pretty, and I don't expect the Celtics to roll over and play dead, either.
Who knows, maybe it won't be so frustrating the only way I can express myself is through poetry. That'd be nice.