Monday, December 10, 2007

First Quarter Report

It has been a disappointing first quarter for the Memphis Grizzlies and their new coach Marc Iavaroni. Almost halfway into Iavaroni’s 50 game evaluation period, the Grizzlies are 6-14. They are last in the Southwest division and 13th (out of 15) in the Western Conference. At the time of this writing, the Grizzlies would have the 5th most lottery combinations in the NBA. Contrary to popular belief, the Grizzlies schedule has been middle of the pack at 13th overall according to Jeff Sagarin’s rankings.

For a coach coming into his first NBA gig preaching the importance of defense, the first quarter of the season had to be a huge disappointment for the 1st year coach. The Grizzlies rank at the bottom of the league in almost every significant defensive category. The Grizzlies rank 28th in points allowed, 29th in FG% against, 27th in 3 point FG% against, 26th in rebounding differential, and 28th in opponents turnovers. However, the most damning statistic on the relationship between coaching philosophy and this current Grizzlies roster is the Grizzlies rank dead last in steals per game.

This shows that exactly why I hate this current Grizzlies roster and can’t wait for GM Chris Wallace to turn it over. This team does not do the three things essential for winning consistently in the NBA. This team does not (1) defend, (2) rebound, or (3) play hard on a nightly basis. Like I said during preseason, the Grizzlies simply lack the personnel to do those three things collectively. This is further compounded by not having any elite offensive talents on the roster. In other words, this team is built to go nowhere and they are right on course.

1st Quarter Awards

MVP: Rudy Gay

Defensive Player: Darko Milicic

Biggest surprise: The development of Rudy Gay as an offensive force

Biggest disappointment: Team wide lack of defensive effort

Favorite moment: Juan Carlos Navarro's 8 three pointers off the bench

Worst moment: David West's buzzer beater in overtime


Spartacus said...

If I may offer a correction -- it should read Only Defensive Player: Darko Milicic. :^(

hptmatt said...

ouch Sparty...but...truth can be colder than the North Pole on December 21st sometimes.

As I've been saying...when I heard the words "attacking defense" ALL SUMMER LONG, I was enthralled. Run when it's smart, it all starts with defense, blahblahblah. The only thing this defense has been attacking is the seats on the bench when Ivy calls a timeout 'cuz someone has just thrown a 15-2 run on us...

The focus has to change, and a roster tweak is in order. Defense must become the singular focus of this team until improvement is seen, then we can worry some more about scoring a zillion points a game-God I sound like Fratello...but another thing I've been repeating ad nauseam...this "the league is getting smaller, runnning more, that's where it's all going" philosophy is going to get stomped like a undercover narcotics cop at the Sturgis rally over the course of upcoming seasons. Size and defense win, have won, and will win more consistently over time. Trust me-GSW is my second fav team, and I'm all 'bout some track meets-but I'm much more about going to the Forum more than 45 times a a huge margin.

"Sea change" is the cliche that many might spout as far as what the Grizzlies need to see in themselves...

Jason said...

Great recap of our journey thus far. Our weaknesses are being exploited on a nightly basis. Its time to shake things up. Send the word hard EVERY single time you step out on the floor, or go home because you are taking up space. Bring in guys who will compete instead of sulking like a 3 year old.

The sooner the young guys take over this team, the better off we will be. I did not honestly expect us to make the playoffs this season. I expected improvement and signs that we were headed in the right direction.

We have pieces of talent but cannot get a W to save our souls. This is going to be a tough week.

Its gut check time Memphis.

Anonymous said...

I recalled reading Sunday's paper when Tillery mentioned that the Grizzlies are on pace with last year's record when they got off to that rocky start. I know that the Grizzlies are under a new regime and all, but if the neccessary changes aren't done to improve the current chemistry. The Grizzlies may end up between 20-25 wins again. What will that say about their progress?

Anonymous said...

There's improvement there, guys.

Even though the win total is about the same as last year, take a look at our margins . . . we were getting blown out regularly this time last year, now we have more games where we're within striking distance at the end, and can't close it out. That 6-14 record could easily have been 12-8, and nobody would be talking about blowing up the team.

I know waiting for this team to gel is painfully slow, but you can't speed-bake a cake--not if you want it to taste like anything. Look for a strong second half of the season, and be encouraging.


ChipC3 said...

Memphis is 2-11 against teams with a .500 or better record. The Grizzlies are 4-3 against teams with a sub .500 record.

I don't know how Sagarin rates schedulues but having a 13 games against teams .500 or above versus 7 games against teams below .500 seems rather difficult to me.

The problem remains that the team is not winning against good teams and is barely winning against bad teams. Either the team needs to get better with what they have or a move needs to be made.

ChipC3 said...

One last thing, the Grizzlies don't rank dead last in steals as was stated. They are tied for last with the Dallas Mavericks. To be dead last they would need to be in last place by themselves. It's bad but not as bad as was implied.

MemphisX said...

It is not about speed baking, the ingredients are not there. If Pau was Amare aggressive offensively, his defense could be tolerated. However, he is not aggressive or consistent. I just don't think trading him is going to be as dire as some think.

It is easier to recover from trading a star play to early than too late.

MemphisX said...

Crack research team wins again.

ChipC3 said...

Was that 'Crack' or 'Crank' research?

Anonymous said...


I disagree. It's just a different kind of cake than we're used to . . . and for that matter, than Pau is used to.

For the first time in . . . well . . . ever, Pau has some SERIOUS help. In previous seasons, he was the main guy, with a supporting cast. He had to do all the heavy lifting pretty much by himself.

Now, he's very much on his way to being a part of the supporting cast. A key player, but still a supporting player. I doubt he resents this, but it is a shift of responsibilities and expectations for him, as well as changing his game.

The other thing that may be overlooked here is that Pau DID play for Spain this summer. His lone All-Star season was the one year he didn't play for Spain. He had much more pep in his step.

But if you can't see the ingredients, that's rough. They're all there. Still, having the ingredients does not equal to good cake; the baker still has to know what he's doing.

Patience. This will pay off . . . likely in the second half of the season.


Anonymous said...

Well it's obvious that the baker doesn't have the right ingredients which is why the cake tastes awful. The baker needs to go out and gets some better ingredients to make this work.

Tim Duncan is not really aggressive on offense that much because he has plenty of help, but he at least gets it done on defense and on the boards. Pau is not doing that. He doesn't try on defense and he doesn't rebound all that well. He gives back more than he produces.