Thursday, September 06, 2007

Grizzlies Compete in International Competition

Alright, it's been a slow few weeks for Grizzlies new. But I guess that's ok given how active the Grizzlies were in June and July.

The biggest news has been that a few Grizzlies, Pau Gasol, Mike Miller, Darko Milicic and Juan Carlos Navarro, have been representing their countries in international competition.

Gasol is averaging 25 points and 6 rebounds in 25 minutes for Spain who was the national champion last year and has an automatic spot in next summers Olympics. Gasol was MVP of last year's tournament and dominated last year's competition. His statistics this year suggest he's continuing to play well in international competition though I haven't seen him play.

Miller provided mostly backup duty and garbage time for the Americans who dominated limited competition in the American tournament. I saw him play in three games. He hit a few threes, but overall he didn't impress, and is probably the least skilled wing player on the team.

Milicic is averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds in about 35 minutes. He recently lashed out at referees in a profanity laced tirade after a disappointing loss to Israel. Afterwards, the European league fined him and Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace and Coach Marc Iavaroni reprimanded him on the phone. His passion for winning is a great, but there's no excuse for berating the referees. It won't lead to more victories. (It is the responsibility of the NBA, both the Commissioner and the Board of Governors to clean up NBA refereeing.)

Navarro has yet to play because of an injury just before the tournament. I haven't read how the injury will affect his participation in the Grizzlies training camp, less than a month away. Reports didn't indicate that Navarro would miss any time.

Participation in international competition is great for players. Sure, we were screwed by Gasol's injury last season, but we were screwed by a lot more than that. When Charles Barkley played for The Dream Team, he said it rejuvenated him and kept him in shape. The following season was arguably his best. He led his team to the NBA Finals and was awarded the league's MVP.

Players are put in situations where they're at greater risk to injury when they play in a more competitive environment. But they also gain experience and conditioning that can't be replicated in the weight room, through drills, or in pick-up games. Hopefully, the four Grizzlies who participated in international competition will come to training camp better prepared than they would have otherwise.

Don't forget to vote in the poll in this blog's sidebar for where you think the Grizzlies will finish next season.


John said...

Realgm has some translated parts from the tirade and it is pretty amazing. I don't think Serbian translates real well into english as some of it is pretty vulgar. Do you take it as a positive that he cares or are you dissapointed that when they lose he truns to the refs as a reason why. All in all I don't imagine this plays a big role next season.

David Jones said...

I like the emotion. It just needs to be refocused.

I agree: it probably doesn't impact next season. But let's hope he cares as much about winning in the NBA as he does in international competition.

Anonymous said...

Who the hell are you calling me "the least skilled wing player on the team?"

I'd like to see you get out there and play some ball. I would take you DOWN.

For someone who claims to "love the grizzlies" you sure do know how to hate.

Mike "Garbage Time" Miller

David Jones said...

No offense Mike. It's just that the other players - Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Michael Redd - are All Stars, and you are not.

I will say that I'd take you over Tayshaun Prince, but he also played mostly garbage time. In fact, during most games garbage time = any time after the first quarter.

Let's face it: your role was to be a three point specialist. The games were so one-sided that having such a specialist didn't matter.

I will agree that you could take me down.