I share your concern, KLipe . . . we always seem to need more shooters, backup PG, blah blah blah . . . I'd like to see us go out and land some more name-brand players. And yet, I still think the players on this team can get better. I'm looking at YOU Marc Gasol.
I believe Marc CAN play at an MVP level, and will need to if the team is ever to get back to the WCF, let alone the Finals or win a championship. What would an MVP season from Marc look like? Averaging 26 points, 12 boards, 7 assists and 2 blocks. The question is: WILL he play like that? He'd have to be a bit more "selfish" to do so, but oddly, that kind of "selfishness" is EXACTLY what his team needs . . . and what he seems to not want to do.
I also think Mike Conley will get better. I think those two guys are perhaps the Grizzlies' ticket to "San Antonio"-type success and longevity, if we can keep plugging in the right pieces around them. But can we? We shall see . . .
My hunch is that the Rudy Gay trade was, in part, about being the "anti Carmelo Anthony" trade and the "anti Dwight Howard" trade.
Rudy has an opt-out clause after this season. Under Lionel, Rudy was the third option, and while it would have been tacky to whine about having more offense run through him while the team is ripping off wins, he also wanted a chance to be "The Man" -- and that just wasn't going to happen in Memphis anytime soon -- not with Zach & Marc in the paint, and an emerging Mike Conley.
Had Rudy stayed, there's a decent chance we would have witnessed the whole "Trade Carmelo" drama all over again, with Rudy as the star. He would have had the same virtual veto power of saying that unless he went to a team he liked that he wouldn't re-sign. Rather than be held hostage by a talented underachiever and the locker room drama that would go with it, I think the management preemptively dealt with the situation by trading RGay before they had to.
Sure, Rudy's efficiency (or lack thereof) and salary came into play as well, but my hunch is that the Front Office simply saw where things could be headed with Rudy, and nipped it in the bud.
Yes, these are all winnable games this week . . . but they are also all LOSABLE. I know that's stating the obvious, but Washington is on a six game winning streak. Brooklyn has been playing better. Chicago is even more consistently relentless than Memphis on defense and they just don't quit.
The Grizzlies will have to play championship caliber basketball this week, and most of the rest of the season. But if we have to keep counting on the halftime wake up call, that's just not going to cut it.
Nice piece, Kev!
The thing that gives me the most hope for the playoffs is that this team is primed and capable of running off either a 9-10 game win streak or can do something like win 12 of their next 15 games. I mean, they were playing .800 ball for a while there . . . WITHOUT Mike Conley and Tony Allen.
Phoenix and Golden State are both capable of 3-4 game losing streaks, not to mention that we own the tiebreakers over both of those teams. But we gotta play it all the way out though . .
Agreed it would be tough for Lionel Hollins to win with this roster. . . . but he does have a track record of doing two things:
1. He would adjust the style of play to fit the available players. You'd need a perimeter attack mostly with this roster, and use Jon Leuer as a stretch 4 type player. Mike Conley would be having a Kyrie Irving-type season -- as in, a green light to score or distribute as the team's primary option.
2. He would yell, fuss, cajole and trick his players into banding together as a unit and playing hard every night.
At best, a Lionel Hollins led team would maybe have squeaked out 3 more wins so far, for a record of 13-8. But those losses would have been much closer, and our squad would be much more fun to watch.
Great piece, Kevin . . . you're filling these shoes pretty nicely so far! Keep it up!
Big juicy headlines you got there, Chris . . .
Anyhoo . . . agreed. The thing I'm looking at for the Grizzlies is consistency in the offense. Grizz stormed out the gates last season behind that crushing defense and an unusually potent 3 point barrage from guys like Mike Conley, Quincy Pondexter, Jerryd Bayless and Wayne Ellington. I guess then, the league figured the Grizz out and thus the long scoring droughts that ultimately did the team in.
If Mike Miller, Mike Conley, QPon & JB can even be slightly below average from deep (let alone GOOD), it will be downright scary.
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By Chris McCoy
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