Thursday, October 25, 2007

Final Position Battles

As the final week of training camp winds down Marc Iavaroni made an announcement last night on the starting point guard. The Commercial Appeal covered the comments at the press conference and printed a nice piece on it titled Iavaroni Goes with Stoudamire at Point. It is a must read for understanding the way the coach sees that position battle at this time (and yes I am trying to make peace for yesterday's blog that upset people at the CA).

That answers that question for the time being. What is still unanswered is who is winning the battle for some key reserve roles. As has been covered earlier on this blog and confirmed by Iavaroni later, the coach plans on using an 8-9 man rotation this season which shouldn't vary from opponent to opponent. We can somewhat safely assume the starting 5 are Pau Gasol, Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, Damon Stoudamire and Stromile Swift. We now also know that Kyle Lowry will be Damon's backup so that is 6 of the 8-9 players.

Who is next in line?

This really breaks down to two positional battles at wing and the interior. The wing battle is the most wide open right now in my opinion with three players fighting for time. The interior battles revolves around two players. Let's take a look at the wing players today and deal with interior battle tomorrow.

Wing Battle: Juan Carlos Navarro, Tarence Kinsey and Casey Jacobsen

Why it should be Navarro: Juan Carlos comes in more mature than the others having starred in Europe and the International stage for many years. He is someone the team went out of their way to procure and he is Gasol's best friend. He is mature enough to want the ball in pressure situations and confident enough to take the big shot. Wallace and Iavaroni put their necks out a bit to acquire the guy and don't want to see him on the bench. Did I mention he was Gasol's best friend?

Why it shouldn't be Navarro: Defense. Navarro has not shown the ability to play defense at the level required in the NBA. Steve Francis routinely toasted him in Houston and he was torched by Mike Dunleavy at Indiana. These two players haven't exactly been offensive horses the last few seasons. Physically he isn't exactly a specimen. He has little vertical leaping ability and he isn't exactly fast although he is sneaky quick. Also Navarro isn't used to NBA officials or the grind of an 82 game season.

Why it should be Kinsey: Tarence Kinsey is the best defensive player among the three and when combined with Kyle Lowry makes a formidable backcourt combination. He doesn't really have three point range but he can hit the the three and he can definitely score against NBA 2 guards. He proved that last March and April.

Why it shouldn't be Kinsey: He's not a Chris Wallace/Marc Iavaroni hire. He's thin and has had injury problems in the past. His lack of true NBA 3 pt range makes it difficult to combine him with either Lowry or Conley since teams can sag off both players clogging the lane on offense.

Why it should be Jacobsen: Has more NBA experience than either other player, has the best range on his shot when his feet are planted and has worked with Iavaroni in the past while in Phoenix. He is thrilled to be back in the NBA and will leave everything on the court when he gets to play. He's smart, understands his limitations and plays within himself.

Why it shouldn't be Jacobsen: He's not fleet of foot so he won't be beating many people down the court. His shot is only effective when his feet are set and he really hasn't shown any ability to put the ball on the floor and drive. His ball handling skills are not his strong point so it puts more pressure on the point guard bring the ball up the court.

What does this mean? It means Iavaroni has a difficult decision to make. With all three players on one year contracts the losers will probably be looking to move out of town before the summer to get a head start on next season. I believe the job is Navarro's to lose right now due to the commitment that the team made in acquiring him from Washington and his closeness with Gasol. Kinsey seems to be the odd man out but could easily be back in the rotation should Navarro or Jacobsen hit a slump. His defense could also be a factor if that becomes a larger area of concern this season.


Anonymous said...

Wow........this site sucks.

Spartacus said...

Thanks for dropping by. We depend on repeat business, after all.

circlek83 said...

Awesome job guys! Nice to see some other local fans keeping up with the team and team related news. Thanks for the interesting material to read and your thoroughness. I am a regular on this site since the Grizz message board. Keep up the good work Chip and Sparty.

ChipC3 said...

Your from the message board and you aren't being negative????

Just teasing. Thanks for the kinds words. They are appreciated.

circlek83 said...

Haha, yep I have been there since 2001, but an avid poster since '04. I was always a fan of each of you guys on the board, you both had great input and thoughts. I look forward to reading your material in the future, and hopefully meeting you guys as well.

On a side note: I was at the game last night, and tried to find you guys at the JD Bar, but either I got there too late or too early.

ChipC3 said...

We will try to have someone at Jack Daniels Old #7 before every home game. We will sit at the first table against the wall after you pass the bar.

You may have had trouble seeing us last night. It was so crowded that we only had one spot open to sit down at our 4 top table!

circlek83 said...

Well I will definitely stop by and say hi to you guys! Keep up the good work, this site is my new favorite! Oh yeah btw, Im looking forward to facing you in our grizz fantasy football league, I am in a CLOSE 2nd place behind Wolfmen....Southaven Titan shall reign supreme!

ChipC3 said...

NEVER! You are going down you pretender to my crown!!!

Actually my team is terrible. I beat PMI so that is all that matters.

circlek83 said...

Haha, I know how you and PMI loathe each other theoretically. Anyhow, it is nice to see you guys doing something with your talent and knowledge. I look forward to even greater things in the future!

And no, I will win it all!!!

Myg said...

Hmmm.... Navarro...
Reading the opinions seems that is a burden to be Gasol's friend. Its a pity, he doesn't deserve this.

ChipC3 said...

I think something was lost in translation. I meant to say that Navarro's friendship with Gasol is an advantage for him because of their communication and knowledge of each other's tendancies.

In no way was I implying that there being Gasol's friend was a burden. In fact I volunteer to take on that burden if Navarro feels it is too heavy a load.

Thanks for reading and please keep making comments so we can improve what we do here.

myg said...


Thanks for clarify that point.

Very kind, man