Friday, May 28, 2010

Here We Go Again: Sorting Though the Zach Randolph Mess

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 12:23 AM

By now, everyone who cares about the Memphis Grizzlies knows about Zach Randolph's latest troubles, most significantly his implication in a drug case in his native Indiana, but also a report of his connection with an assault at a Los Angeles strip club. In both cases, the direct subject of the allegation is not Randolph but rather an associate of his, an old story for those familiar with Randolph's notorious — but unseen or unnoticed in Memphis — "Hoop Family" entourage. (As Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden quipped, Randolph may be "posse-whipped.")

Roughly 24 hours after the initial report on the Indianapolis drug case first emerged, I'm just now getting a chance to dig into the story. Let's look at what we now know about the case — I'm focusing on the Indianapolis case here, which seems much more serious —  and where things could go.

What We (Seem To) Know

Based on a probable cause affidavit submitted by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detective Ryan Graber, what seems to have happened is this:

A confidential informant gave the IMPD a tip about drug-related activity connected to Randolph and his suburban Indianapolis home, with specific information about a Randolph associate named Arthur Boyd.

After watching the residence and detecting activity consistent with a drug-dealing operation, IMPD officers pulled over Boyd, driving a 2008 Cadillac Escalade. The car ended up being registered to Randolph and after a subsequent search (the legal details of which could end up being an issue), a cooler was found containing more than 90 grams of marijuana separated into bags. There were also hidden compartments in the car, one of which included a round of ammunition. There was also paperwork connected to a self-storage unit also registered to Randolph. An investigation of the storage unit led to a K-9 unit detecting "positive indications for the presence of controlled substances" and the impounding of three custom Chevrolet Impalas, which apparently did not have door handles and were equipped with electronic keyless entry. The cars apparently had not been searched at the time the affidavit was written. Boyd was arrested for "dealing and possession of marijuana."

In the affidavit, Graber refers to Randolph as "the financier for known drug dealers in Indianapolis," but beyond information given by the referenced confidential informant, there doesn't seem to be enough evidence in the affidavit to support quite that strong of a claim.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mapping the Draft: Take One

Posted By on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 11:17 PM

With Tuesday's draft lottery in the books, Grizzlies fans can officially start focusing on the team's three picks: #12, #25, and #28. Chances are pretty good one of these later picks will get moved, if even just for cash, on draft night. But for now we have to assume the team could be drafting at all three spots.

Nevada forward Luke Babbitt: One of many players the Grizzlies will studying in the coming weeks.
  • Nevada forward Luke Babbitt: One of many players the Grizzlies will studying in the coming weeks.
Here's an early breakdown on how the team could be approaching the draft. This list will be fine-tuned in the coming weeks, starting with a ranked master list sometime next week after the information from the current Chicago draft combine has been considered. For now, I'm going to divide draft prospects into categories relative to the Grizzlies picks.

Off the board: At the moment there seem to be eight players fairly certain to taken before the Grizzlies make their first selection at #12, so we can take these names off the team's draft list (barring an unforeseen trade up):

John Wall
Evan Turner
Derrick Favors
DeMarcus Cousins
Wesley Johnson
Al-Farouq Aminu
Cole Aldrich
Greg Monroe

Longshots: Beyond merely the prospects not good enough to be considered in the first round, there are a couple of types of players I think the Grizzlies are unlikely to select. One of these types is wing players who aren't good three-point shooters. Currently the Grizzlies have three back-up wings (Sam Young, DeMarre Carroll, Ronnie Brewer), all of whom are poor outside shooters. I think it's unlikely the team would draft another player like this, taking some prospects (Stanley Robinson, Quincy Pondexter) off the board. The other category I think you can scratch is a project center. The Grizzlies took one of those with the second overall pick last year in Hasheem Thabeet, and with Thabeet and Marc Gasol commanding all the center minutes, there doesn't seem to be room for a developmental center (Daniel Orton, Solomon Alabi) on the roster.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Roster: 100 (or so) Word Reactions

Posted By on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 7:24 AM

The Grizzlies begin the process of remaking their roster tonight. But before we get to that, let's take stock of the roster as it enters the summer.

Darrell Arthur: Missed 50 games with shoulder injury, came back a carbon copy of the below-average-reserve-level player he was as a rookie. The missed time really hurt Arthur, whose athleticism, activity, and theoretical scoring potential suggest at least a valuable bench player. Can run the floor and rebound well enough, but he's too small to work in the post (23% of non-dunk inside attempts rejected) and hasn't shown the mid-range game he had in college (35% on jumpers last season). Has to find a reliable jumper to be a quality rotation player. As it is, with Arthur still a question mark and Zach Randolph entering the last year of his deal, a Power Forward of the Future should definitely be on the draft radar.

Ronnie Brewer: Griz waited too long to acquire Brewer then got nothing from it when he got injured in game one. Played only 80 minutes in five games for the Griz, only 12 of those in good health, so there's a limit to what we can know. Certainly helps defensively, but looked lost on the offensive end. Brewer is a smart, athletic, and active player, but he can't shoot and isn't particularly dynamic with the ball. He was a good fit in Utah's offense because he was able to make cuts off the ball to create shots. With the Grizzlies' more iso and pick-and-roll offense, the weak-side wing player needs to be more of a shooter. It would have been nice to see Brewer on the floor more with Marc Gasol, whose interior passing and basketball IQ might have worked well with Brewer's cutting ability. Is he just a system player? Can the Griz figure out how to use him effectively? Based on the limited info and big question marks, it would be hard for the Grizzlies to offer him a substantial contract. But after giving up a future pick to get him, it would be equally hard to let him walk. Luckily there probably won't be a big market for Brewer this summer. My guess is he's a good bet to be back on the one-year qualifying offer.

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Grading Myself on the Griz

Posted By on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 7:09 AM

With tonight's NBA Draft Lottery, the NBA off-season begins, and with it my lengthy new-baby-and-non-hoops-work-induced blogging hiatus.

But before I can start wading into the various issues of this off-season, a couple of housecleaning posts are in order. First, a reckoning with my October predictions for this now-completed season:

1) The Grizzlies will be one of the most improved teams in the NBA — and still miss the playoffs. The Grizzlies offense will make a big leap from terrible to average. The defense will maintain its mediocrity. The result? Respectabilty! Predicted record: 36-46.

Good start. The Grizzlies, in winning 16 more games, were the league's second most improved team (behind the Oklahoma City Thunder, who made a dramatic 27-game improvement), but did indeed miss the playoffs. The team's offensive efficiency jumped from 28th to 17th. The defense fell off slightly, from 20th to 23rd. As for the record, I undershot by four games.

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