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dirt_dobber
08-20-2007, 10:58 AM
Can the updated Griz roster fit the new game plan
http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2007/aug/20/s20griznu2/

Before former Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello left FedExForum, he had an intense, uncomfortable conversation with then-team president Jerry West.

The pair disagreed on multiple Grizzly topics -- not the least of which was the roster.

Fratello strongly questioned the talent level.

West, greatly offended, believed he'd assembled the best potential during his tenure. Tony Barone Sr. also expressed major concerns soon after he descended from his perch in the stands to the coach's seat to replace Fratello.

Fast forward to today.

Perhaps the best way to sum up changes to the Grizzlies' roster is organizational accord.

General manager Chris Wallace, along with strong influence from head coach Marc Iavaroni, methodically made additions and subtractions that -- on the surface -- satisfied four of the five needs heading into an offseason of dramatic change.

Wallace & Co. addressed backcourt deficiencies, shooting and front-court bulk. The unspoken requirement of soothing franchise player Pau Gasol was met with the addition of the Spaniard's best friend, Juan Carlos Navarro.

But Navarro isn't a modern-day Jack Haley (former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman's skill-impaired running buddy) by any stretch. The 6-3 guard is considered a deft shooter -- someone who can legitimately contribute.

General toughness via defensive prowess is the one area where the Grizzlies appear to have fallen short this offseason.

For those of you counting at home, that's four out of five concerns tackled.

Still, it can arguably be recorded as one of the more productive offseasons since the team arrived to Memphis in terms of filling voids.

"I'm excited to have some very talented pieces to be creative with," Iavaroni said last month. "I think our staff is already thinking forward on how we can combine them, how we see lineups, some rotations."

The Griz will have a full complement of players when training camp opens in October. Gasol and Navarro will travel from Europe to Memphis for the start of camp despite playing with their national team through mid-September and having to return to Spain Oct. 3 with the Grizzlies.

With the additions, the Grizzlies' roster has become somewhat diminutive and decidedly foreign.

Gone are Chucky Atkins, Dahntay Jones, Alexander Johnson, Lawrence Roberts and Junior Harrington.

Enter Navarro, Andre Brown, Mike Conley, Casey Jacobsen and Darko Milicic.

The Grizzlies' roster takes on a different type of versatility:

Point guard

Adding the quickness, skill set and youth of the NBA's fourth overall draft pick, Conley clearly sent a message that Iavaroni intends to push the tempo and develop a floor general with a command of the court similar to Phoenix's Steve Nash. Having last year's first rounder, Kyle Lowry, ensures that the Griz can keep pressure on defenses with speed and dogged defense.

The ability for the Grizzlies' point guards to get to the basket has Iavaroni excited about pick-and-roll sets.

The only question is where does aging veteran Damon Stoudamire fit?

Griz brass expects Stoudamire to simply "train" the young guns. But this youth movement isn't what Stoudamire signed up for. Remember, he came to Memphis as a free agent, suffered an otherwise career-ending injury and came back to play. He's healthy and wants to contribute to a winner. After all, does a 34-year-old point guard fit the new direction? Don't be surprised if Stoudamire and the Griz work out a trade or buyout before or during training camp.

The encouraging sign is that Stoudamire recently met with Iavaroni in Las Vegas where Conley, Hakim Warrick and others worked out with renowned NBA talent developer Tim Grgurich conducts a camp.

Shooting guard

Mike Miller is the team's best outside shooter. His shortcomings are an ability to defend opposing guards and helplessness to consistently to drive past a defender off the dribble. But Miller has solid ball-handling and passing skills. That's what the Griz are counting on from Navarro, presumably coming off the bench. Jacobsen is a bigger guard who can also play small forward with enough adept shooting to stretch defenses. While Miller has the ability to play point guard and Navarro is small enough to be shifted to that position, the preference would be not to take the ball out of the hands of Conley, Lowry or Stoudamire.

Small forward

The belief still is that Rudy Gay will turn into a star. He's long, athletic and adept inside and out of the paint. Gay's shot selection must improve but he's the primary option at this position with Jacobsen, Miller and Tarence Kinsey available to log minutes.

Jacobsen's experience could mean that he sees the court more than expected despite Kinsey's impressive finish last season.

Power forward

One theory has Gasol moving to his natural position with Darko Milicic playing center. Fact is, the Griz still have a logjam here despite cleaning up the roster a bit. Gasol, Milicic, Brown, Brian Cardinal, Stromile Swift and Hakim Warrick are each options.

Iavaroni has a difficult challenge in terms of balancing player development versus maximizing the potential of veteran players.

Wallace recently flew to Miami where Swift makes his offseason home.

Wallace and Swift had dinner to discuss his role and ways the veteran Grizzly could break out this season. Swift remains the team's only true shot-blocker. Warrick proved himself to be an offensive threat. The hope is he'll develop defensively. Cardinal's wellbeing (he's recovering from knee surgeries) remains an issue. But he can provide more outside shooting and scrappy play if healthy. Brown would figure to get lost in a numbers game.

Center

If Milicic plays center, he'll provide weak-side shot blocking and average rebounding, and high-post scoring. That's based on his performances besides the strength of Orlando's Dwight Howard. Gasol also has proven he can block shots and score from either block. Swift has provided flashes of brilliance as a capable backup, giving credence to the versatility of the Grizzlies' front line. The frontcourt lacks toughness. No longer, though, are the coaches primarily dealing with 6-foot-9-and-under, lean players to protect the paint.

"I think that will continue to evolve as we watch them just playing pickup ball in September," Iavaroni said last month, "how we envision them working in different places and with different people in the games."

And the operative word floating around Grizzlyland is patience.

dirt_dobber
08-20-2007, 11:37 AM
The Griz might make the 8th spot this year. It is going to be tough in the West this year.

mqywaaah
08-20-2007, 01:38 PM
I hope they do make the 8th spot. The West will be tough, but Im sure the Mavs will do well too. ;)

dirt_dobber
08-20-2007, 04:24 PM
1. Mavs
2. Spurs
3. Suns
4. Jazz
5. Rockets
6. Denver
7. Lakers
8. Griz., Warriors, Hornets, Portland, Clips?

DevinFuture
08-20-2007, 04:30 PM
1. Mavs
2. Spurs
3. Suns
4. Jazz
5. Rockets
6. Denver
7. Lakers
8. Griz., Warriors, Hornets, Portland, Clips?

Not bad.

I will say

1. Suns
2. Mavs
3. Spurs
4. Jazz
5. Rockets
6. Warriors
7. Denver
8. Lakers or Griz

I would love to see the Griz get in.

alby
08-20-2007, 07:39 PM
rockets and spurs ahead of the mavs. book it.

MFFL

DOMINATOR
08-20-2007, 08:15 PM
1. Suns
2. Mavs
3. Rockets - unless brokeback mac gets hurt
4. Spurs
5. Jazz - boozer injured as usual
6. Nuggets
7. Hornets - unless injuries plague them again
8. warriors/lakers

10. grizz
11. blazers
12. sonics
13. kings
14. clips - brand=injured
15. twolves

EricaLubarsky
08-20-2007, 10:29 PM
1) Suns
2) Mavs
3) Spurs
4) Rockets
5) Jazz
6) Nuggets
7) Blazers
8) Lakers
=========
9) Warriors
10) et all.

Flacolaco
08-20-2007, 10:41 PM
Continuing the hijacking of this thread...

I kind of agree with Alby for once...I would not be shocked at all to see the Spurs or the Mavs in the 4 spot....or god forbid, the 5 spot? The Rockets aren't going away, and the Jazz played great last season. It's so freaking tough in the west.

I think you could throw this list of teams up in the air

Suns, Mavs, Spurs, Jazz, Rockets

And just see how they land 1 through 5. Although...I do like the Suns to take the 1 seed.

Tokey41
08-20-2007, 10:41 PM
1. Suns
2. Mavs
3. Spurs
4. Jazz
5. Rockets
6. Nuggets
7. Grizzlies
8. Warriors

I think 6-8 could be interchangeable, and the Hornets could be in that mix too. Ah well, Mavs win it all in 2008 no matter what the seeding.

DOMINATOR
08-21-2007, 12:03 AM
i think some of yall are sleeping on the hornets. they almost made 8th seed with all those injuries last season. mainly chris paul missing 18 games.
all i know is it's safe to say the Southwest division is by far the hardest in the NBA.

alby
08-21-2007, 02:16 AM
Hornets will finish 7th in the West (of course, if they stay healthy)

Mavs will be in 3rd place (behind SA and Houston) in the Midwest Division causing Cuban to make a blockbuster move during the trade deadline--book it.

EricaLubarsky
08-21-2007, 02:32 AM
Mavs will actually finish 9th in the west, after acquiring Kobe Bryant from the Lakers, Shaq from the Heat and Horry from the Spurs in a four-way deal. At the deadline our "Lakers (beyond) prime" team will cause Cuban to tear his hairplugs out because of all the money he had to pay and at the same time Darthape makes his move in a bloody coup to take over D-M.com which succeeds and he names Chumdawg his minister of truth.


Book it!

ty
08-21-2007, 03:14 AM
=/

Jack.Kerr
08-21-2007, 11:00 AM
What's with all the Suns love in these predictions? Have they improved?

alby
08-21-2007, 11:17 AM
Mavs will actually finish 9th in the west, after acquiring Kobe Bryant from the Lakers, Shaq from the Heat and Horry from the Spurs in a four-way deal. At the deadline our "Lakers (beyond) prime" team will cause Cuban to tear his hairplugs out because of all the money he had to pay and at the same time Darthape makes his move in a bloody coup to take over D-M.com which succeeds and he names Chumdawg his minister of truth.


Book it!

?

DevinFuture
08-21-2007, 11:46 AM
What's with all the Suns love in these predictions? Have they improved?

Grant Hill can't improve them much, but they haven't really lost anything either. I don't think there's a team better than them in the west except the spurs and mavs, but I'm expecting the suns to be the team of those 3 that plays to win the most regular season games. The Spurs were willing to give up some regular season games last season to rest their big three. I am hoping Avery is willing to do the same to some extent.

EricaLubarsky
08-21-2007, 11:55 AM
?
long as we are making crazy predictions without a single piece of evidence and telling people to book it I thought I would join in.

Jack.Kerr
08-21-2007, 12:14 PM
Grant Hill can't improve them much, but they haven't really lost anything either. I don't think there's a team better than them in the west except the spurs and mavs, but I'm expecting the suns to be the team of those 3 that plays to win the most regular season games. The Spurs were willing to give up some regular season games last season to rest their big three. I am hoping Avery is willing to do the same to some extent.

Didn't they lose Kurt Thomas? Hill for Kurt Thomas is at best a wash. Thomas wasn't much, but he was the only thing that allowed the Suns to even pretend to check a big like Duncan.

Is Nash ever going to improve enough to get them over the hump? How much better can he get? Isn't he just as likely to fall off due to age or injury as he is to up his game again? I'd say that question is 50-50 at best.

Suns seem like they've had quietly brewing chemistry issues for the past couple of years--Marion's childish resentments, Stoudemire's immature selfishness. Everybody seemed to think that Marion was a lock to be dealt after the Suns 3rd consecutive playoff fizzle, and then Stoudemire's name kept popping up in those trade rumors. Does everybody make nice and play hard for 60-something wins this year, or do things fail to go perfectly and the claws come unsheathed?

Is the league catching on to the Suns' game? This will be the 4th year that other teams will have been exposed to the Suns' style of play. Plus there'll be at least one other team (GSW) approximating DanTony's playground style--will the novelty have worn off? Will this be an easier style for teams to match up with and attack?

There are more questions than answers with the Suns this year, so I fail to understand why they get projected above an NBA champion and an NBA finalist, from the last two years respectively.

purplefrog
08-21-2007, 12:26 PM
What's with all the Suns love in these predictions? Have they improved?

Grant Hill's sharpshooting accuracy from 3pt range makes the Suns the obvious favorite to win the whole enchilada. His fast pace style of play fits right in with the Suns gameplan and his iron man history of playing despite injuries makes him a favorite for comeback player of the year.

Jack.Kerr
08-21-2007, 12:31 PM
Grant Hill's sharpshooting accuracy from 3pt range makes the Suns the obvious favorite to win the whole enchilada. His fast pace style of play fits right in with the Suns gameplan and his iron man history of playing despite injuries makes him a favorite for comeback player of the year.

They'll be lucky to if he has fewer than 30 DNP-Injury box lines.

EricaLubarsky
08-21-2007, 12:46 PM
kurt thomas may be a big playoff piece but he doesnt affect regular season record all that much.

DevinFuture
08-21-2007, 01:01 PM
Didn't they lose Kurt Thomas? Hill for Kurt Thomas is at best a wash. Thomas wasn't much, but he was the only thing that allowed the Suns to even pretend to check a big like Duncan.

Is Nash ever going to improve enough to get them over the hump? How much better can he get? Isn't he just as likely to fall off due to age or injury as he is to up his game again? I'd say that question is 50-50 at best.

Suns seem like they've had quietly brewing chemistry issues for the past couple of years--Marion's childish resentments, Stoudemire's immature selfishness. Everybody seemed to think that Marion was a lock to be dealt after the Suns 3rd consecutive playoff fizzle, and then Stoudemire's name kept popping up in those trade rumors. Does everybody make nice and play hard for 60-something wins this year, or do things fail to go perfectly and the claws come unsheathed?

Is the league catching on to the Suns' game? This will be the 4th year that other teams will have been exposed to the Suns' style of play. Plus there'll be at least one other team (GSW) approximating DanTony's playground style--will the novelty have worn off? Will this be an easier style for teams to match up with and attack?

There are more questions than answers with the Suns this year, so I fail to understand why they get projected above an NBA champion and an NBA finalist, from the last two years respectively.

You make some good points. Certainly a lot of questions with the chemistry issues, Nash's age, and Phoenix's style of play.
But all those questions have been there, and that team still piles on the regular season wins, in part because Dantoni plays his starters about 40 minutes a game.
You might be right that one of those questions causes a dropoff this year, but I'm still expecting the Suns to be right there at the top...and then not make it to the Finals again.

Jack.Kerr
08-21-2007, 01:44 PM
You make some good points. Certainly a lot of questions with the chemistry issues, Nash's age, and Phoenix's style of play.
But all those questions have been there, and that team still piles on the regular season wins, in part because Dantoni plays his starters about 40 minutes a game.
You might be right that one of those questions causes a dropoff this year, but I'm still expecting the Suns to be right there at the top...and then not make it to the Finals again.

In which case you've got to question the coaching philosophy and tem preparation. DanTony just keeps having them play as if you run at that brick wall a little harder and a little faster you'll bust right through it. I really think they have to make some substantive changes and become more adept at playing at different tempos, or they're going to end up bouncing back away from that brick wall, as if they'd been hit by a Robert Horry hip check.

kurt thomas may be a big playoff piece but he doesnt affect regular season record all that much.

If you're saying that they can still try to outrun teams for 60-something games, and that should be enough to outdistance both Mavs and Spurs, and then they'll take their chances in the playoffs, .....point taken.

I just think they're playing on a house of cards out there with one gear and no depth and no plan to improve.

Not really interested in or concerned by that team, though Nash alone is still fun as hell to watch.

purplefrog
08-21-2007, 02:47 PM
They'll be lucky to if he has fewer than 30 DNP-Injury box lines.

Exactly. And his 3 pt FG% was around 17% last season. Strange fit for the Suns. Also, they only have seven regular players including Hill. If he goes down, then Eric Piatkowski, Marcus Banks, Sean Marks, and/or Alando Tucker will be geting some pt.

alby
08-21-2007, 07:41 PM
How am I making crazy predictions when I said Houston and San Antonio will finish above Dallas? That's crazy??? I don't get it

AxdemxO
08-21-2007, 07:49 PM
There is 4 teams in the West Rockets, Spurs, Suns and Mavs any can come out on top...and any1 tht just simply pick the Mavs or any of the other teams is beinf a homer or really ignorant....and not very realistic.

fluid.forty.one
08-21-2007, 09:39 PM
rockets and spurs ahead of the mavs. book it.

MFFL


That's what people say every year.

spreedom
08-21-2007, 10:03 PM
lol @ blazers in the playoffs...

alby
04-19-2008, 12:34 AM
Mavs will be in 3rd place (behind SA and Houston) in the Midwest Division causing Cuban to make a blockbuster move during the trade deadline--book it.

...boy was I grilled after this or what. ha!