There are three stories that have emerged from the preseason.
- Rudy Gay has improved.
- The point guard rotation is a work in progress.
- The Grizzlies are still inconsistent.
Gay has been impressive in his preseason play. He's led the team in scoring, but has also contributed assists, rebounds, blocks, steals, and three point shooting.
He's still not even the fourth best three point shooter on the team, but he's come a long way from the player that would make Fratello cringe every time he took a shot that wasn't a dunk.
The emergence of Gay is key for the the Grizzlies development. If Gay turns out to be a flop, that sets the Grizzlies back another couple of years. However, it looks like Gay may be almost ready to take on the role of the Grizzlies' number 2 guy.
More than any other player (save Gasol), Gay has the all the characteristics (ie skill, size, athleticism) to be dominant. Mike Miller is not quite dynamic enough to be a great number two player, but Miller will excel as the Grizzlies' third option. Gay has the all around game to be Gasol's number two, and he appears to be on his way.
2. The point guard rotation is a work in progress
Coach Iavaroni has all but decided that Damon Stoudemire will start with Kyle Lowry coming off the bench and Conley filling in where he can. However, the only certainty is that the point guard rotation is a work in progress. Though reports suggest Stoudemire has improved upon last season, he's bound to have nights where his body doesn't respond as well as the Grizzlies need.
I wouldn't bee surprised if Stoudemire isn't starting by December. Lowry is being touted as a defensive specialist a la Earl Watson. However, at this point I think Watson comparisons are sand-bagging Lowry's potential.
I'd also bet that once reality sets in and Iavaroni realizes the Grizzlies aren't going to win 50 games, he opts to give Conly more experience at the point.
3. The Grizzlies are still inconsistent.
The Grizzlies still rely too heavily on offensive weapons. As a result, there are huge swings.
One day the Grizzlies are dominant, the next they're being destroyed by a mediocre Pacers team. The Grizzlies' swings aren't daily either. The Grizzlies can be a completely different team from one quarter to the next.
The steady areas of basketball that teams rely on during times of adversity, free throw shooting, defense, and rebounding, are still the Grizzlies' worst areas.
The Grizzlies are young and most are new to one another, so there's hope that they can develop these areas, but the preseason demonstrated that the Grizzlies' weaknesses haven't yet been overcome or even masked by Iavaroni's new system.
I'm excited to see how it comes together during the first 10 games of the season...
Unfortunately, I won't be able to catch the first game on League Pass, but if any one is able to attend and get a photo, please email me, and I'll post them to this blog.