I agree with the cautious tone of this article, but when you say "core four of Conley, Gasol, Randolph, and Allen are probably at their peak as a group" - I really have to disagree with that. Zach is already significantly below his peak of a few years ago and we've almost certainly seen the best of Gasol as well (I don't see any more DPOYs in his future). Centers of his build and "commitment" to conditioning, not to mention commitment to the Spanish national team, are simply not going to maintain their level into their 30s.
Even Conley is unlikely to get better at his age and experience level, even though he's the youngest of the group. Allen almost doesn't matter because he only makes $5 million so his decline will not hamper them financially in any significant way.
Gotta hope that the Grizzlies hit on a few of the Franklin/Stokes/Adams-type draft picks to successfully transition to the next generation. But their history of giving away some of the possible successors they do have - Greivis Vasquez, Ed Davis, James Johnson (likely) - doesn't make me optimistic.
The team is already committed to riding Z-Bo hard into his decline years, and seems committed to riding Gasol's decline years as well (if he'll re-sign). This might be enough to keep them competitive, but there ain't no championship on the horizon with this core.
Chris, how can you look at that ranked list of players and take PER seriously? You obviously have misgivings that you attribute to it not counting defense. But it's much more than that.
PER is arbitrary. A system like Wins Produced, which has all the same flaws as the other stats that boil a player's entire contribution down to one number, is at least related directly to each team's efficiency differential (that's points per possession on offense less points per possession on defense). It converts the efficiency differential to wins, and then apportions wins to the players on the team according to their contribution. I know you're a smart guy Chris, and you recognize that basketball is about efficient use of possessions. Getting more possessions through steals and rebounding and minimizing turnovers, and then converting those possessions into points efficiently. It's just math.
Here's your same list of 18 players, ranked by Wins Produced (this is after the Grizz-OKC game):
1. Kevin Durant 1.86
2. Kevin Martin 1.54
3. Zach Randolph 1.20
4. Mike Conley 1.16
5. Thabo Sefolosha 1.04
6. Serge Ibaka 1.01
7. Marc Gasol 0.92
8. Wayne Ellington 0.81
9. Jerryd Bayless 0.58
10. Quincy Pondexter 0.58
11. Russell Westbrook 0.50
12. Rudy Gay 0.31
13. Kendrick Perkins 0.28
14. Hasheem Thabeet 0.24
15. Tony Allen 0.18
16. Marreese Speights 0.10
17. Nick Collison 0.05
18. Eric Maynor -0.15
This is a very small sample and Tony Allen usually comes out far better but it's early and he really needs to shoot less. But it reflects that Russell Westbrook and Rudy Gay are not efficient scorers. Period.
I can only hope that the new owners are smart enough to realize this and can trade Rudy to a team that only looks at his smooth moves and high point total and gives up a bounty in return.
Chris, I have tremendous respect for your analysis, but I have to argue with the point about Reggie Evans being statistically one of the worst players in the NBA. What are you referring to, PER? Your use of PER is my single least favourite thing about your writing. PER is, to be frank, a garbage stat. It was arbitrarily invented by John Hollinger a long time ago and isn't connected to anything important (like wins, or efficiency, or possession), other than his attempt to fashion a stat that matches popular perception of players. There are other stats that show Reggie Evans to be an extremely valuable and efficient player: http://www.thenbageek.com/players/320-regg…. By Wins Produced, he's almost twice as productive as the average power forward, and this obviously has nothing to do with scoring!
Other than that, keep up the good work!
This is Vancouver weighing in...this contract is the best demonstration yet of how utterly unsophisticated is the management of this team. Darryl Morey and Sam Presti and Mark Warkentien must be laughing at such incompetence. It's so frustrating cheering for a team that doesn't seem to value anything beyond scoring average and "athleticism". Rudy Gay is just not a very good player, and he's already four years in. As Chris mentions, he could get better, but it's not bloody likely. I pray that Vancouver gets another team soon so I can stop cheering for this hopeless cause. Your 2010-11 Memphis Grizzlies - welcome to 34 wins!!!
This was the 400th loss in Memphis Grizzlies history. They last their last 100 faster than any previous 100 losses, setting yet another low mark in team history. Number of games required to lose each set of 100 games: 141, 230(!), 156, 137.
By Chris McCoy
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