Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Word of the Day: Evaluation

With a nod to our friends over at Basketbawful, I'm going to borrow one of their mainstay titles for this post.

Most Grizzlies followers are aware that Head Coach Marc Iavaroni (along with GM Chris Wallace) said at the beginning of the season that it would take 50 games to properly evaluate this team and determine who truly belongs and can be part of the future, and who will not be part of that move back to the postseason. Many fans were calling for an end to that evaluation process 5 games into the season as they denounced the acquisitions of Casey Jacobsen and Juan Carlos Navarro and called for the trades of seemingly everyone not named Rudy Gay.

Well, we are now 27 games into the season and just past to the halfway point of that evaluation period. What do we know so far? We know that Rudy Gay is becoming the star that Jerry West promised us when he made the trade netting him on draft day last summer. We know that rookie point guards still struggle (Kyle Lowry) and over-the-hill veteran point guards don't learn new tricks (Damon Stoudamire). We know that Darko Milicic is a good (maybe great) low-post defender, but needs a healthy left hand to score with any regularity. We know that Brian Cardinal still looks good in a suit. We know that Andre Brown can contribute when called upon, as he evidenced against my pick for NBA MVP Dwight Howard on Saturday night. We know that Stro is still Stro. We know that Tarence Kinsey is still a fan favorite, even as he seeks another team to catch on with. We know that Juan Carlos Navarro can light up the scoreboard in a hurry. We know that Casey Jacobsen is the team's best blogger. We know that people expect way too much from Michael Conley right out of the gate. We know that Hakim Warrick can still score and rebound. We know that Mike Miller still has the most interesting hairdo on the team. We know that Pau Gasol is Sam Smith's favorite Grizzly now that Shane Battier is a Rocket.

Now why is any of this important? Well, while I was doing my daily check of The Fanhouse last week, I saw a post by Bethlehem Shoals about the Phoenix Suns titled Suns Brass Getting Restless. Apparently, there are those in the Suns' front office that are behaving a lot like the Grizzlies online fanbase, in that there is a split about what to do with plenty on the fence.

NBA sources say the Suns brain trust is split between those who want to give this team another shot at success, those who think it's now time for a major move and those who are on the fence after only 24 games.

If that doesn't sound familiar enough, how about his line from GM Steve Kerr:

"If we're ever going to be a championship team, we have to improve defensively."

I find it interesting that a team that is 17-7 and has legitimate title aspirations is facing the same basic issues as a team which is 7-16 and coming off a league worst 60 losses last season. Want me to make the circle complete? Here you go:

"We're watching this run of games against top competition (Utah, New Orleans, San Antonio and Dallas) very carefully. We've been talking about it but we talk all the time. Are there are concerns? Sure. I'd say we're definitely in evaluation mode," Kerr said.

Evaluation mode, huh? Well, well, well, it seems that where Iavaroni came from isn't that much different from where he went to in terms of question marks. For the record, Shoals came to the conclusion about the Suns that many outspoken Grizzlies fans have arrived at:

Maybe this season's start -- which has them looking good, but not dominant -- was the wake-up call the franchise needed. With the rampage over, it's time to face facts, and maybe shake things up before it's too late.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. What is that sound?


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