Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Upcoming Season and "Core Four" Fatigue

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 7:15 AM

click to enlarge The season is upon us, but how will we continue to talk about it? - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • The season is upon us, but how will we continue to talk about it?

Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen. "Grit and Grind." Tenacious defense and a limited offense. A character and demeanor that reflect the city and which have sparked an infatuation that is steadily turning into a long-term relationship. A lack of scoring ability from outside that fails to stretch the floor for the post-oriented stars of the team. Rookies who have yet to develop. New additions who might be the answer (except for that one time when the new addition was The Answer, which we'd prefer not to talk about).

Stop me if you've heard some all of this before.

People who write about the Grizzlies on a regular basis (insert joke about how I haven't written much this summer) are entering strange territory this season. The team has been at the same level of success since 2010-11. The key players on the roster are mostly the same, minus Rudy plus Tayshaun minus Tayshaun plus Jeff and Vince. Small forward is, unsurprisingly, still a black hole question mark. Everything everyone has said about this team in the last five or six years? It all still applies. It's all still accurate, and going into this season it doesn't look like any of it will change between now and the end of the Finals in June.

The simple truth of the matter is that I have mostly run out of new things to say about the current configuration of the Memphis Grizzlies, and—dirty little "sports industry secret" that none other than my illustrious predecessor Chris Herrington has already alluded to this weekso has everyone else who covers this team on a regular basis.

What new stories are going to emerge this season? How can we uncover them? How are we to avoid talking about how the team "has got to add a shooter"1 or saying that the team has "grit" and that they "grind"2?

click to enlarge LOL this is unrelated to the article but I just remembered how much OKC is paying Kanter - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • LOL this is unrelated to the article but I just remembered how much OKC is paying Kanter

I think these stories exist—or if they don't, they will. How much longer is Tony Allen going to be good? How is Zach Randolph really going to react to the twilight of his career, as his limitless gifts and bountiful bottom-end start to fail him? Marc Gasol is here for five years, and all signs point to a long-term re-signing of Mike Conley at the end of this year, too—so what are the Grizzlies going to do with that?

Thing is, there's nothing else to say about those, either, because they haven't happened yet, and some of them are fundamentally unpredictable. But those narratives are there, nascent, waiting to emerge from the background wash about shooting and defense and Memphis and teamwork and togetherness and Not Bluffing (which, for the record, We still don't do) and toughness and, yes, Grit.

So here we are. Media Day is Monday. There are new faces—Matt Barnes, Brandan Wright, and now presumed training camp signing Ryan Hollins3—and there are familiar ones, the same familiar ones which I feel myself lapsing into taking for granted. I know I shouldn't; I know this is special, and I know I should be taking this in while it's here. But I just don't know what else to say about it.

We're going to find that out together, I guess. You, me, and everybody else reading and writing about this team, and watching them be themselves for the sixth straight season.

  1. "Shooter" is a word people throw around as if there's a mythical Shooter out there who would instantly hit 40% of his glut of open 3's that the Grizzlies offense supposedly generates. I love this imaginary player, and I think this season I'll start referring to him as The Shootist.

  2. I am ready to drag these words out into the middle of a major street and run them over with a truck. I don't know, I'm just flat-out tired of saying them. I'm not the only person covering the team who feels that way, though I may be the only one dumb enough to admit it.

  3. I have to admit, Ryan Hollins has always been on my "10 Least Favorite NBA Players" list. Just bugs me, for no real rational reason. No, I'm not going to post that list. But maybe someday I can learn to love Ryan Hollins.




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