Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Grizzlies' Lineup Set

This will be my last post for about two weeks as I'll be traveling out of the country. Please continue to post your thoughts about the Grizzlies here.

Before I go, since the Grizzlies have just finalized their lineup with the signing of Casey Jacobson, I thought I'd give a first draft of the depth chart. It looks like the Grizzlies are set with their roster for training camp, and I must say they've done very well given potentially one of the best drafts ever and one of the worst free agent classes.

Every acquisition has potential at little cost.

Point Guard: Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Damon Stoudemire

Lowry looked more mature and refined during the Summer League games I saw, but Conley definitely has room to take over the starting job.

Shooting Guard: Mike Miller, Tarence Kinsey, Casey Jacobson

Who is gonna play defense? I guess the Grizzlies tried a defensive-minded backup in Dahntay Jones, and it didn't work too well. Jacobson will be able to match Miller's three point shooting and has the potential to be a solid backup.

Small Forward: Rudy Gay

Gay won't play 48 minutes. He'll probably get spelled by Warrick, who I like better in the post, and Miller and Jacobson, who I like better at guard. Gay's a lock for the starting job though.

Power Forward: Pau Gasol, Hakim Warrick, Brian Cardinal, Andre Brown

The MVP of the world will also spend time at center. I wonder if Warrick will improve as much between season 2 and 3 as he did between season 1 and 2. I wonder if Cardinal will play.

Center: Darko Milicic, Stromile Swift

The two Grizzlies centers share something in common: they have never lived up to their expectations. The sun is setting on Swift who is a serviceable big man. Milicic has one more chance to prove he's at least as good as Dino Radja.

This lineup is a definite improvement over last year. Lowry and Conley are upgrades over Atkins and Stoudemire. Jacobson is an upgrade over Jones. Milicic is an upgrade over Tsakaliedis. Warrick, Kinsey, and Gay could be significant upgrades over last year's versions.

This seems like more turnover than the Grizzlies have had during a Memphis offseason (other than the offseason during which they moved), and I'm excited about the youth, as well as the prospect of winning 10 more games than last year.

I think this team has a better chance of beating expectations than any other squad. (Of course, some will remember last season I predicted the Grizzlies would win their first playoff game...)

Grizzlies' Poor Season A Result of Refs 'Fixing' Game

Okay, maybe they were just bad...

One argument that I continually have with my father, who prefers baseball to basketball, is that referees do or do not determine the outcome of games.

I argue that refs, though they influence the game, don't ultimately decide the outcome. Sure, they blow calls. Yes, they interpret rules differently at times. (For example, they call a game close, where every touch is a foul, or they 'let them play'.) But generally, the better team wins, or at least, the team that plays better on a given night wins.

Dad argues that referees are frustrating because they are not a constant. A foul against Alexander Johnson isn't a foul against Shaq. Traveling seems to be called based on time - "How long has it been since Lebron was called for travel? He must be due." During the last play of the game, the same contact that got Greg Oden his 8th foul is a no call. During any play, a foul on Kobe Bryant is incidental contact on anyone else.

In reality it's somewhere in the middle. For the most part, refereeing is a constant during a given game. Different teams perform better given different officiating crews. Great players like Bryant learn how to draw contact (and referees may learn to expect it). Great teams, like San Antonio, learn what works (what they can get away with) and manipulate those learnings to their advantages. Some call it dirty; others call it strategy.

With the recent referee scandal, it's likely, that at least one referee has been using his authority to determine the outcome of games. However, the problem may not end there. Perhaps this is representative of a worse problem, that referees have too much control of the game.

Now would be an ideal time for the league to present solutions to this problem that will lessen (not eliminate) the subjectivity of refereeing. A combination of removing certain guidelines (that are inherently subjective) and explicitly describing others (that could be less subjective) may take some control out of referees' hands. Releasing statistics on the number of fouls called on all players, given the referee, the players involved, etc may go a long way towards demonstrating that referees are more 'accurate' than they're perceived to be.

Of course, any changes made need to done so without diminishing the excitement of the competition. That includes both allowing fans - people without insider knowledge or control of the outcome - to bet when they want to and letting the players play.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Grizzlies Filling Out Roster with Experienced Young Players

So far I've hear the Grizzlies are pursuing Casey Jacobsen, Ime Udoka, and Matt Barnes to fill out their roster with Andre Brown.

I like that the Grizzlies are going after young guys at a low price. Hopefully, these players will be less injury-prone than the older Grizzlies have been and will allow more financial flexibility in the next few off-seasons. I also like that the Grizzlies are leaving their last two spots open. I've never understood why the team has insisted on maintaining 15 players.

I also don't understand why the Grizzlies opted for Brown over Lawrence Roberts or Alexander Johnson. Both Roberts and Johnson were solid end-of-the-bench players. Still, Brown could develop into a better player, and it's hard to fault Wallace and Iavaroni for identifying who fits into the system and acquiring them.

As for the potential swing man the Grizzlies are looking into, Barnes is my favorite, but he's too pricey for what the Grizzlies need so I wouldn't sign him. Jacobson strikes me as one-dimensional, and I don't know anything about Udoka.

Adding any of those three won't make or break the Grizzlies, and regardless, it's been a solid off-season so far.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Grizzlies Sign Andre Who?

The Grizzlies signed Andre Brown. That's all I know.

Does anybody know who this guy is?

Career Season Averages
06-07 SEA 38 0 7.1 0.568 0.000 0.600 0.7 1.3 1.9 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.76 0.70 2.4

Born: May 12, 1981
Height: 6-9 / 2,06
Weight: 245 lbs. / 111,1 kg.
College : DePaul
Years Pro: 1

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pictures from the Grizzlies' Summer League

Here are some pics from the Grizzlies warm-up before the last summer league game vs the Wolves. Thanks to Evan for the photos.

Also, be sure to vote in our latest poll on the right column under the Fedex Forum.

Here's rookie Mike Conley practicing his lay-ups:

Here's Rudy Gay and Kevin McHale. Can you spot him?

Here's Conley practicing his free throws. According to yesterday's press conference, Rudy Gay lost to Darko Milicic in a free throw shooting contest.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back from Vegas

Two of my friends and I attended Saturday's loss against the Timberwolves.

The Grizzlies looked lackluster and over-powered during the first three quarters. They looked like they needed Alexander Johnson. Without access to the internet, I hadn't realized he was released. (I'll be interested to see who we pick up to replace him. Seemed like a bargain to me, but I guess there are better players...)

Here's my report:

1. I'd like to get an exclusive interview with Mike Conley.
Didn't get the exclusive interview, but I enjoyed my first glimpse of his play. He can get to the lane and finish better than any Grizzly guard or wingman.

2. I'd like to meet Chris Wallace and Marc Iavaroni.
I saw Iavaroni from a far, but couldn't spot him during the game. Not sure why he wasn't coaching...

3. I want to make money off of a Grizzlies victory on Saturday vs the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Didn't get a chance to place a bet, but I'm glad I didn't.

4. I'd like my picture taken with Rudy Gay
Didn't get a pic of us together, but my friend, Evan, got a few pics which I'll post as soon as he sends them to me.

5. I'd like to attend a Chris Mihm workout.
I wasn't able to scout Mihm. With AJ being dropped, I probably should have made this a priority.

6. Place a small wager on the Grizzlies winning the Championship.

I kept forgetting to do this, but on Sunday, I was wearing a Grizzlies shirt, and someone from Memphis in the parking lot of the Bellagio noticed me. He had just placed a bet with the odds of 300:1. Apparently, the odds are getting worse.

Other celebrity sitings included Kevin McHale, Tony Barone, Kurt Rambis, David Aldridge, and Steve Kerr.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Off to Vegas

In a few hours, I'm flying to Vegas, where bookies, according to CNNSI, have given the Grizzlies a 1:150 chance of winning the NBA Championship.

I'm not sure how the acquisition of Darko will affect that line, but I have a few goals while I'm there:

1. I'd like to get an exclusive interview with Mike Conley.

2. I'd like to meet Chris Wallace and Marc Iavaroni.

3. I want to make money off of a Grizzlies victory on Saturday vs the Minnesota Timberwolves.

4. I'd like my picture taken with Rudy Gay

5. I'd like to attend a Chris Mihm workout.

6. Place a small wager on the Grizzlies winning the Championship.

Look for me on Saturday at the game. I'll be wearing a retro 2003 Pau Gasol away jersey. I'll be with three friends: 2001 Michael Dickerson, 2001 Lorenzen Wright, 2004 James Posey.

Also, look out for an update Monday when I return.

Grizzlies Take a Chance on Darko

The Grizzlies appear to be set to sign Darko Milicic. If this were Ebert & Roeper, I'd give this move a mild thumbs up.

Milicic is unproven after 3 seasons. Most players have started to show glimpses of their potential after three seasons. However, Milicic's situation is somewhat unique given that he was buried on the bench in Detroit for most of the time.

My biggest concern is that Milicic doesn't address the biggest need for the Grizzlies: someone who can crash the boards and police the lane defensively.

His contract appears to be in the $21 million over 3 years range. This is more than he's been worth so far, but it's also not terrible considering the relative amount big men make. We'd be worse off with Zach Randolph's bloated contract even if Randolph is much better.

I like the fact that the Grizzlies are going after young talent that has the potential to develop rather than veterans who are too old to make a difference. A year ago, the Grizzlies would've signed Alonzo Mourning or Theo Ratliff instead...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Grizzlies Summer League Report

I just finished watching the Grizzlies vs Team China recorded on my DVR. The Grizzlies looked fantastic. Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, and Tarence Kinsey looked particularly great, and Mike Conley and Alexander Johnson looked good as well.

The Marc Iavaroni era began as promised with a lot of running. What stood out to me were the number of steals (16) and dunks (alot) the Grizzlies had. The Grizzlies did a great job of playing the passing lanes and getting out on the fast break.

Once they were out on the break the Grizzlies had some spectacular dunks. A one-handed dunk over a Chinese player by Kyle Lowry stood out. The most spectacular play was Rudy Gay's 180, double pump, two-handed slam on Bucks rookie Jianlian Yi for which Gay received a technical after taunting the taller Yi. He also demonstrated his improved outside shot scoring 2 threes and a couple of mid-range shots.

Tarence Kinsey was on fire with his jumpshot from all over the court. He wasn't afraid to shoot it either. Mike Conley looked confident too. His most spectacular play was a layup where he changed hands in midair in traffic. He also hit a Tony Parker-patented floater.

It was nice to see Scooter McFagdon playing as well. I remember watching him play in high school though none of the non-Grizzlies stood out.

I'll be in Las Vegas next weekend, and I'll have to opportunity to see the team in person. Look for another report here when I get back the following Monday.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Will the Griz get a Big Man?

The Commercial Appeal reported that the Grizzlies won't lure Andres Nocioni from the Chicago Bulls this summer. Nocioni is likely to re-sign with the Bulls and I'm disappointed. Nocioni is a nice player. He adds toughness, energy, 3 point shooting, and defense. However, I must admit I'm not too disappointed.

To get Nocioni, the Grizzlies would probably have to offer 8 million a year. That would put the Grizzlies at the salary cap and give Nocioni more than he's worth. What the Grizzlies don't need are overpaid role players. (Nocioni will never be an All Star.) They already have Brian Cardinal.

If Nocioni was 7 foot and averaged 4 more rebounds and 2 more blocks, he'd be worth 8 million to the Grizzlies even if he wasn't an All Star. He's not as tall as Brian Cardinal. Therefore, though the Grizzlies need to take risks on players that have the potential to be great, letting Nocioni slip is not terrible.

Now for the back-up plan - Anderson Varejao. Like Nocioni, Varejao is a nice player. Unlike Nocioni, Varejao could play center next to Gasol. He's not as dynamic as Nocioni, but he fills a void the Grizzlies need. If the Grizzlies can get him for a reasonable price (6 million?), they should go for him. That would still make him the 3rd highest paid player on the team, but what else is going to convince an average big man to move from the Eastern Conference Champions to the worst team in the conference with the best big men.

The problem is that after Varejao and Nocioni, there is no one left. The Grizzlies will then have to trade for a big man, and Stromile Swift and Damon Stoudemire aren't going to return much of a big man.