Sunday, October 7, 2007

Lineup and Rotation Still Unknown

After more than a week of training camp, Coach Iavaroni gave the team a day off. The time hasn't been long enough to determine who is starting and who will make the primary rotation. Iavaroni said that no lineups have been determined.

"Is anything shaking out right now? No," Iavaroni said. "We haven't played any games. That's where we'll decide who is going to start and how we'll rotate, and have combinations. I'm going to sit down with the coaches (today) and decide which direction we want to go."

Iavaroni has said that nobody except for Pau has a guaranteed spot in the starting five. It seems reasonable to expect that Miller and Rudy will start at the wing positions. How the rest of the rotation shakes itself will be the most interesting aspect for the remaining time in training camp and preseason.

My favorite position battle is at the point. Right now I think the starting spot is Damon's to lose. During the Blue and White scrimmage, Damon started on the same team as Pau, Mike and Rudy and played really good. Tillery reported that during last practice, Damon was on the same team as Miller, Gay, Pau, and Darko. Those five are probably the consensus starters right now for most Griz fans. Looking at the pictures taken during practices, Damon usually has the same color jersey on as Pau, Rudy and Mike. That is why I believe that the starting point guard spot is Damon's to lose.

However, everything will most likely change once the Grizzlies start playing other teams. On Tuesday afternoon (Memphis time), the Grizzlies open up preseason games playing Unicaja. Chip thinks that Damon, Mike, Rudy, Pau and Darko will start and I agree with him.

I still think that within the first month of the season (if not by opening night), Mike Conley will be the starting point guard. Conley's ability to play and push the team to such a fast pace will earn him Iavaroni's trust. Right now it may look like a now-healthy Damon has the upper hand, it is still just a matter of time before he gets passed over. Damon understands this.

Even though Damon might be the favorite to start at PG and Conley looks to be the most competent contender, Kyle Lowry should not be counted out. I fully believe that as long as Lowry is healthy, his tenacious defense and knack for making big plays will force his way to the court, especially in the 4th quarter. I predict that Kyle will become the biggest fan favorite this year for his gritty, bulldog style.

The backup wing position is another competitive battle (assuming Miller and Rudy start). I have no idea who will come out on top between Navarro, Kinsey and Jacobsen. Kinsey is the worst shooter of the three, but a better defender. I also have a feeling that if Damon or Lowry finds themselves third on the point guard depth chart, that either of them could see some spot minutes at the 2 if Iavaroni chooses to go super-small (Damon for his shooting and Lowry for his defense and ability to get to the rim). That could hurt the court time available for Navarro/Kinsey/Jacobsen. Working in the other direction is the possibility of Rudy playing some at the 4, opening up more minutes for the Navarro/Kinsey/Jacobsen trio.

There is one prediction I do feel confident making regarding the Grizzlies position battles. Stro will not be apart of it. Like clockwork, Stro already has a knee injury. Although minor, I have a feeling this will be the start of a string of small nagging injuries for Swift.

Edit (10-8-07, 3:55 pm): Check out Chris Herrington's take on Camp Battles.


AC said...

If Damon really is 100%, I think he deserves a starter-unless-unseated tag. Before he hurt his knee (I still remember watching it happen... God that was awful), he was very good, and I have no problem with him as a starter.

Moving Miller to 3, where the team has the least depth, would immediately free up time for whichever 2 (TK, Navarro, or Casey) would have been on the pine, in turn allowing one of the 1's to slide over for short stretches. I think Miller with Rudy in reserve at 3 is reasonable, although bringing Mike off the bench has worked pretty dang well in the past, and he has a trophy to prove it.

As for Stro, meh. Believe me, I would love to see him play to his potential, but seriously, there's no evidence that that will ever happen. I'd rather see Hak or Andre get those minutes than watch Stro wander around, missing defensive assignments for ten minutes in return for one spectacular block/dunk.

Lee Eric said...

I believe the Starting PG is Damon's to lose as well. I mean, it's not like the cat is slow. Did Frat ever really turn him loose to drive and dish?

I'll even say this: Who starts the most games by January will give us a feel for how Iavaroni is looking at the season. If Damon starts, I think he wants to win now. If Conley starts, he's looking to develop his talent. I have no doubts about Conley's game, but Damon's been there/done that, and Conley will have to adjust to the NBA game.