Steve Weinman of Taking it to the Rack had a post today titled "Time is now for Conley in Memphis". This basically comes across as a declaration that the Grizzlies should start Michael Conley now, rather than later. Weinman is less than complimentary of Damon Stoudamire, both as a player and a person, insisting upon a needless focus on his past transgressions and brushes with authority figures, while ignoring how well he played in Memphis prior to his injury. For that matter, he doesn't even mention the career-threatening patella injury when discounting Mighty Mouse's potential contributions to the team.
I've been on record as saying that Damon is not part of the Grizzlies' long-term future...but he is important to the long-term success of both Conley and Kyle Lowry. In the 2-4 months that he is in Memphis this season, he can have a profound effect in mentoring these two young PG's, which seems to be a role he has accepted. Weinman believes that the Grizzlies are a potential playoff team, but doesn't want to see the better player get minutes? That seems contradictory in practice, but he is a Celtics' blogger, so maybe he just wants to make sure his team has the biggest improvement from last year. ;o)
Here's a quick look at a multitude of predictions involving the Grizzlies and what I did or didn't like about them.
Let's start off with the various previews/predictions from MVN.com.
End of the Bench has two separate predictions for the Memphis Grizzlies. First, Eric Thibauld predicts that we'll finish 12th in the west in his Western Conference Preview. Then, Chris Clarke mentions us as a strong contender to shock the NBA with our improvement this year.
I can't fault Thibauld for placing us that low since we were the worst team in the NBA last season, but he put the L.A. Clippers ahead of us. The same Clippers that appear to be in the same situation the Grizzlies were in last year by having their franchise player miss significant time. To each their own, I guess. And, of course, I agree with Clarke's line of thinking in naming us to surprise the rest of the league. I would feel better if people would stop picking us to win 50 games and make the postseason easily, though.
Speaking of that, Jon Burkett of Passion and Pride posted his Playoff Seed Predictions and has the Grizzlies as the #6 seed in the West. Nice to see that Zack isn't the only one drinking Beale Street Blue Kool-Aid these days.
On the flip side, Amar Panchmatia of Cavalier Attitude has a much bleaker prediction. In his Power Rankings, he places the Grizzlies 29th overall.
29. Memphis Grizzlies: A team that peaked when it got swept out of the first round for three straight seasons. Look, when you’re a small market team like Memphis that isn’t going to attract many big-name free agents, it’s hard to be anything more than a middle-of-the-road franchise. Picking up Mike Conley in the draft was a terrific move, and he’ll be an elite point guard in the league in due time. But unfortunately for Memphis, “due time” in this case is a matter of years. And is Conley going to do anything to add to this team’s biggest flaws: defense and rebounding? The Grizzlies were the worst in the league last year in opponents’ field goal percentage by giving up a whooping 52.9 percent field goal percentage. They were also 23rd in defensive rebounding, and although Pau Gasol missed 23 games, the Spaniard has long been referred to as one of the softest players in the league. Back when the Grizzlies were actually a playoff threat every year, the Grizzlies built their image in the name of defense under former Cavs coach Mike Fratello. Sure, we Cavs fans know how boring Fratello-ball can be, but it got the job done for Memphis. Fratello got canned after 30 games, but the Grizzlies defense had never been as poor as it was last year under the Czar’s guidance.
Then in his 2007/08 NBA Preview, he has the Grizzlies' record at 18-64. Apparently he doesn't realize that these are the Memphis Grizzlies and not the Vancouver Grizzlies being run by Stu Jackson. Chris Wallace actually knows how to make intelligent basketball decisions, so this team has gotten better, not worse. Needless to say, both Chip and I have put Amar on our "antagonize beyond belief" list. Amar, you have no idea what that means for you the remainder of this long, long NBA season.
On About.com (via Golden State of Mind), they have Ryan McNeill's (HoopsAddict) Memphis Grizzlies Preview. McNeill takes a rather harsh approach to evaluating Darko Milicic, but admits that he could very well be the key to the Grizzlies' success or failure this season. Overall, it is a fair look at the Grizzlies prospects.
Over on The Sports Network, Warren Blatt sees the Grizzlies as a fringe playoff team with the possibility to reach a win total in the low 40's.
Yesterday, I directed you to freedarko.com to see their Every Player Preview (Players A-F). Today, they continue it with Players G-O. Of course, that includes Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, Mike Miller, Darko Milicic and Juan Carlos Navarro. Needless to say, when I got down to Gasol's entry I was momentarily floored:
Gasol, Pau: Wins first MVP awardI dismissed this as shenanigans in the name of fun until I read Navarro's line shortly thereafter:
Navarro, Juan Carlos: Makes Gasol's MVP season possibleSurely they cannot be serious. They are serious...and don't like to be called Shirley. That's a rather amazing pronouncement from where I sit. When people predict that the Grizzlies will win 50 games and/or be the 6th seed in the West, I can chalk it up to being overly optimistic. Gasol getting an MVP vote would be amazing to me. Him being on the receiving end of an MVP award would be surreal. I might have to go lie down now -- FreeDarko has made me light-headed.