Saturday, December 1, 2007

Interview with the Enemy: Timberwolves Today

This is something new we hope will be a regular feature for 3 Shades of Blue where we get a chance to interview bloggers from other teams so that we can learn what other fans think of their own teams.

Today we have Neil from Timberwolves Today who was kind enough to answer some questions from ChipC3.

ChipC3: First off let me say I was at the Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus concert with my 8 yr old daughter last night. I feel like I drank two pan galactic gargle blasters without the lemon twist. If you don't know what that is go read the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

First question I have for you is simple. Minnesota traded Kevin Garnett for a group of players that probably attended a Hanna Montana concert this year and didn't bring their daughters. Do you think Kevin McHale has got the team on the right path with the young players or was this a terrible move for the franchise?

Neil: While every Wolves fan will miss everything that KG brought to the court night in and night out, the time was right for McHale to deal KG. Due to his enormous contract we could not bring in the help needed to be a legit contender in the wild west. After this season he would have opted out of his contract and we would have been left with nothing but cap space. When you look at past All-Star trades, (Shaq, AI, others) the team dealing the superstar, never gets back equal value. You can never expect to get back what KG offered. That being said, I think we did amazingly well with the deal we did get. Young prospects, draft picks and cap space is what we were asking and that is what we got. Al Jefferson is one of the brightest upcoming stars in this league. Gomes, Telfair and Green are serviceable role players. Two first round draft picks will boost our rebuilding process, and Theo Ratliff is 13 million coming off the books after this season. Sure we have the worst record in the league, but our current squad is young, energetic, and they play hustle ball all night. We have a core, anchored by big Al that could be something special in a few years.

ChipC3: Explain the hiring of Randy Wittman to me.

Neil: Randy Wittman has had a few tours as an assistant coach with the Wolves, as well as a couple failed seasons with Cleveland. He was hired after McHale canned Dwane Casey halfway through last season. It was kind of an in-house promotion for Wittman. It was always assumed that he would someday be a Wolves head coach if Casey did not pan out. In my opinion Casey should still be around, but alas Wittman is in charge. Randy Wittman is known for his no nonsense, hard-nosed philosophy. Times are tough right now in Wolvesville and the key word is patience, this must be applied to the head coach as well. Even if we end up with the worst record in the league this season, Randy Wittman's job is safe at least through next season. McHale and owner Glen Taylor are committed to giving Randy time to mold this team and realize that it will not happen overnight.

ChipC3: On a serious note, a small but serious group of Memphis fans were hoping that the Grizzlies would draft Corey Brewer in the last draft. So far I have not heard a lot about him. What do Minnesota fans think of the Brewer selection and will he be an impact player in the future or are his destiny more along the line of a defensive player who can't shoot?

Neil: Corey Brewer is a huge part of our rebuilding effort. Right now he is very rough around the edges on the offensive end of the court. His shot is simply not falling. However he has earned a decent amount of playing time due to his sheer hustle and defensive energy. He is a hawk in the passing lanes, swooping in and disrupting the oppositions offense, and wants to run the fast break every chance he gets. He will be a special player in the future, but to really be complete he has to work on that shot and his offensive decision making.

ChipC3: Finally, what do you think McHale has on the Minnesota owner to keep his job? Is it incriminating photos? Perhaps some information on his personal finances he doesn't want revealed? It can't be that the owner likes his sweaters can it?

Neil: My insiders tell me that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has a huge fetish about Wolves mascot, Crunch. Only McHale truly knows exactly what goes on between Crunch and Taylor, but I have heard some alarming things. This is why McHale still is, and will always be the GM of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Darko's back, so who goes to the bench?

As Zack told you last night, Ron Tillery is reporting on the Memphis Edge that Darko Milicic is ready, willing and able to play tonight against Minnesota. This brings up an interesting issue as to who will go to the bench if Darko starts. The most common assumption is that either Juan Carlos Navarro or Mike Miller will take a seat to make way for the Dark One. We're going to look at the pros and cons of those two starting or sitting, as well as two other players you might not have considered -- Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol.

First up is Juan Carlos Navarro -- "La Bomba". The 27-year old rookie has been making quite a name for himself recently with his prolific outside shooting and surprising ability to do practically everything on the court - by himself at times. He's the low man on the totem pole, so it is probably correct to think that he would be the logical choice to be sent back to the bench if Darko starts tonight. However, when you look at his numbers when starting vs. sitting, you wonder if it is wise to go that route.

JCN "the starter": 5 games, 35.6 mpg, 14.6 ppg, .517 FG%, .389 3PT%, 4.2 rpg, 3.2 apg
JCN "off the bench": 10 games, 15.6 mpg, 6.8 ppg, .397 FG%, .457 3PT%, 1.1 rpg, 1.4 apg

Obviously there is also a large discrepancy between minutes played per game in those two stats that could still be rectified with Navarro playing a lot of minutes off the bench, but it is clear that he is a more productive player when he starts.

Next, we come to Mike Miller. Miller is a former 6th Man of the Year, which means that he has not only come off the bench before in his career, but thrived in that role. Prior to the season beginning, a few of us pondered whether or not MM would be better served to returning to that role, but were quite willing to ride along with whatever decision the coaching staff decided to make. Now, I'm not so sure that a change isn't needed. By sending Miller to the bench rather than Navarro, you get more size off the bench at the SG/SF positions without sacrificing any scoring ability. If Iavaroni is truly sincere about whittling his rotation down to 8 men, this makes the most sense to me, having Miller come off the bench along with Lowry and Swift for the vast majority of the time, allowing for Hakim, Casey, Conley and TK to get playing time in the event of injury or foul trouble.

Then we come to Rudy Gay, who is surely a surprise entry into this category. In all honesty, I probably wouldn't have even considered him despite his recent poor play if I hadn't seen this post on the Grizzlies Messageboard the other day. While I don't believe that it will happen, as Miller is the more logical choice of the two swingmen to take a seat, it is worth contemplating. Rudy has been a starter all of this season and has appeared to have taken on the mantle of lead scorer for the Grizzlies. His bouts with foul trouble and inconsistency have caused concern among some fans, as well as his perceived unwillingness to pass up open shots when they present themselves. Well, according to Marc Iavaroni's philosophy "If a player is wide open and has a shot he practices, then that player has the green light to shoot." That means you should expect Rudy to keep shooting with the coach's blessing. So while it is interesting to contemplate, I don't see Rudy starting the game tonight as a spectator.

Our final entry comes courtesy of one of our faithful readers, L3ESmith:


Great blog. Wanted to pitch this wacky idea, see what you guys thought of it.

I posted a message at the CA boards entitled: "So crazy it just might work. . . ." Here's the body of it:
Now here's a thought. Just a thought: What about NOT starting Pau?
Starters: Damon, Navarro, Rudy, Stro/Hak, Darko.
Bench: Pau, Mike, Kyle, Stro/Hak
This would NOT be to penalize Pau; Hope he's enough of a team player to see the logic of it, which is this:
Mostly, it would be to match him up against the bench front court of other teams. Imagine bringing 20/10 off the bench! He'd still get his minutes, probably in the 2Q; and almost certainly finish games. But I can't help but imagine we'd increase his personal offensive punch, and make us one of the strongest benches in the game (with Mike and Kyle also coming off the bench).
Darko, albeit not totally healthy, has shown that he can be a threat in the post. If we can get early offensive production from Hak, I think it could pay off (and/or showcase him for a trade?). Defensively, Darko and Stro protect the rim, Stro gets to play his natural 4, and he's a better defender than Pau, to keep opposing PFs from getting going too early. Rudy moves back to the 3 and we get those extra 8-9 PPG we need from him. Damon and Navarro, no comment necessary.
But again, the main thing it that I could see it being a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. Let's just look at December:

Wolves: Pau matches up against Theo Ratliff and Mark Madsen instead of Al Jefferson.
Blazers: Pau matches up against Joel Pryzbilla and Raef Lafrentz instead of Lamarcus Aldridge.
Rockets: Pau vs. Scola/Mutombo instead of Yao/Hayes
Hornets: Pau vs. Melvin Ely/Hilton Armstrong instead of David West/Tyson Chandler
It's taking too long to look all this up. But you get the idea. Matching our superior player up against the inferior benches . . . Pau could likely eat their lunches, or force the opposing teams to play their starters longer than they really want to, which would help us at the end of games. Either way, it works to our advantage.
Much of this would be contingent on Darko emerging as a go-to offensive threat while maintaining defense, Hak not getting killed on defense by opposing fours, and Stro playing good defense on opposing fours. If a starting lineup of Stro/Hak + Darko could post 30/16 (that's figuring 18-9 for Darko and 12-7 for Hak/Stro), I think it's just crazy enough to work.
Oh yeah. For the record, closers would probably be: Kyle, JCN, Rudy, Pau, Darko.
Of course, I could be delusional. I'm sure several of you will let me know if I am . . .
After a little bit of ridicule from another poster whom I respect, I posted this reply:

But let's think for a sec: Isn't the future core of this team shaping up to be Kyle, MC, Rudy and maybe Darko/Hak/JCN? That's not to say that Pau isn't a contributor; to the contrary, he would be a very valuable contributor. But for all the ranting on this board about how Pau's not a franchise player, why not try him for a while as a very,
very significant role player?
He's not the person you want to throw the ball into at the end of games, agreed? But we could still certainly use his 20/10 a night, and the double teams he commands, even at the end of games. And many of the players he'd be matched up against are not serious offensive threats, thus helping to mask his defensive shortcomings.
Pau is on his way to no longer being THE MAN in Memphis. David Robinson accepted a reduced role in SA and look what happened. And would anybody debate what Manu Ginobli does for the Spurs simply by coming off the bench? Nobody really thinks of him as a bench player anyway.
Why don't we embrace Pau's shifting role on the team? I'd rather have him dominate off the bench then to be sometimey as a starter . . .

While I was skeptical of this idea, I was willing to entertain it just as I had done with the idea of Rudy taking a seat. Then I saw this great article by Ron Tillery in the Commercial Appeal titled Gasol tries to step up game plan. Here's a relevant quote that deals with Gasol's sub-par stats this sesaon:
"I have to be a little more active without the ball," said Gasol, who is averaging career lows in points (17.1) and rebounds (6.9). "There are not a lot of plays called. Period. It's more of a flow game. I haven't felt extremely comfortable with it because I was used to being told you go here, this is going to happen and you're going to get the ball.
"But that's more of a set game; a slower-paced game. We want to increase the tempo, and not let the defense set. I just have to look for the ball, and get my offense in the flow. It's been hard to assimilate (to the new system), but I'm going to do a better job of being more active without the ball and then demanding the ball."
Iavaroni said criticism of Gasol is unfair because the 7-foot Spaniard has complied with the coaching staff's wishes. Gasol essentially sacrifices his low-post game to
conform with the Grizzlies' goal of playing fast and adhering to equal-opportunity scoring.

In other words, Gasol is doing exactly what the coaching staff is asking him to do, so the critics should turn their attention to Iavaroni and Co. when talking about Gasol's stats. In fact, I seem to remember somebody suggesting that Pau's stats might take a hit in this new uptempo system. Also, L3ESmith made mention of David Robinson taking a lesser role to allow for Tim Duncan's emergence. Robinson was 32 years old when Duncan was drafted -- 5 years older than Gasol is now. Also, The Admiral was never sent to the bench, but instead played alongside the Big Fundamental as a starter -- the Two Towers reborn, as it was. In the same manner, it appears that Pau and Darko complement each other well and should play in the same lineup as often as possible. Otherwise I don't get to use the "Ivory Towers" nickname that I'm so fond of.

I'm sure I made it clear earlier, but I think it would be most beneficial for the team if Mike Miller was the 6th man who covers both swingman positions, thus leaving Navarro in the starting lineup. We'll see what occurs tonight and the rest of the season though.

Let me know what you think in the Comments.

Pregame: Memphis vs Minnesota - 12.1.07


Don't Forget the Owners Experience Ticket Package!

Memphis strutted into Toronto on a high after winning their 2nd game on the road this season in New Jersey. After one quarter they had the game being played at a pace that favored the team and even had the lead. Then came the 2nd quarter. 10 points later the Grizzlies walked into the locker room without any shred of confidence and never really mounted a challenge against the Raptors in losing 103-91 which made the game look closer than it really was. How do you explain a team shooting over 50% in the previous two games shooting 3-19 in the 2nd quarter? Mike Miller and Rudy Gay never amounted to much in the game and Gasol seemed to quit in after the first half. Juan Carlos Navarro continued his excellent play but while playing large he wasn't big enough to overcome the total lack of team effort.

Minnesota is tired of being portrayed as the worst team in the NBA. However they are tied for the fewest wins in the league at two with Seattle, another team rebuilding after unloading the face of the franchise. Minnesota is rebuilding with promising talent including Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Corey Brewer and Rashard McCants. That much youth without any veteran leadership rarely produces good results right away. Minnesota is suffering the growing pains like most teams. This game will be Minnesota's third game in four days after playing at Dallas and San Antonio so it won't be easy for the TWolves against a rested Grizzlies team.

4 Things on Zack's Mind

-- Need a win to get to .500 at home. Right now the Griz are 3-4 at home. IMO, it is a must for a team to have a winning record at home. Against the lowly T-wolves, this win is a must. A repeat of the last Sonics game would be preferred.

-- Defending Al Jefferson. The matchup I am most interested in is Al Jefferson versus the Memphis interior defense, who will likely be missing Darko for an 8th straight game (3-4 in his absence). Although it is likely Pau and Swift guard Jefferson the most tonight, I will not be surprised when Rudy takes his turn. Iavaroni has shown no hesitation in having Rudy guard any post player on the other team. And Al versus Rudy on the block is a matchup I don't think is in the Grizzlies advantage. IMO, Al demands an immediate double team to get the ball out of his hands and back in the hands of his sub-par supporting cast. I will be interested to see how early and how often Iavaroni calls for the Griz to double Jefferson (if at all).

-- How big will the free throw discrepancy be? The Griz average 8 more free throw attempts per game than the Twolves (28 for Griz to 20 for Twolves). But what might make the discrepancy even more tonight is the fact that the Twolves opponents average 32 free throws per game (Grizzlies opponents average 22). After our pathetic shooting display against the Raptors, I expect the Griz to have a concerted effort to attack the rim and hopefully some hometown officiating can get Kyle, Rudy, Pau, and company to the line in bunches.

-- Need our shooters to be shooters. Make no mistake about, Navarro has no hesitation on hoisting up shots. I like his confidence and don't mind him shooting alot. I would like to see Miller be more aggressive in getting his shot off (he is coming off a season low 5 FG attempts against the Raptors, all misses). The Grizzlies have 4 guys (Miller, Navarro, Damon, and Casey) who's best skill is shooting from the outside and worst skill is defense. For those guys to earn the combined 93 minutes they average per game (or roughly 38% of the available playing time) they need to shoot confidently and shoot well. In wins, that group is averaging 14.2 made shots in 29.8 attempts (47%) versus 11.7 for 28.2 (41%) in losses.


Point Guards: Damon Stoudamire vs Marco Jaric
Marco Jaric has size to the nth degree and is dating a Brazilian bombshell (Adriana Lima) so excuse him if his legs are a little too tired to actually use his height advantage by posting up down low. Damon has been consistent as the starter averaging around 6 pts and 4 assists in just under 20 minutes. If anything his minutes have actually seen an increase lately but his shooting is still very suspect despite his 3 pt average. He needs to hit more shots inside the rim to get more PT.
Advantage: Minnesota

Shooting Guards: Juan Carlos Navarro vs Rashard McCants

Juan Carlos Navarro starts his second month in the NBA most likely destroying my prediction of his winning 6th man of the year not because he isn't playing well but because he has played so well he is starting instead of coming off the bench. Navarro has rapidly become a crowd favorite. His fun loving style of play hopefully will rub off on some other veteran players too. McCants has battled injuries since turning pro after his national championship at UNC and he finally looks to be getting comfortable. His shot is still terrible (41% from the field) but he can get hot from the perimeter (36%). Too offensive minded players but Navarro has the higher basketball IQ.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Mike Miller vs Ryan Gomes

Mike Miller may be starting his last game at SF for a while with the anticipated return of Darko Milicic. If anyone has seen a decrease in effectiveness from Navarro's development it has to be Mike Miller. Ryan Gomes is a physical SF or an undersized PF depending on your outlook. He looked promising in Boston although unable to get consistent minutes. Minnesota was happy to get him in the KG deal but he hasn't really found his comfort zone yet. His shooting is pathetic inside the arc although his 3 pt shot has really improved. If he can find his range and muscle up Miller, Gomes could be effective in this game. If he struggles keeping up with Miller on the perimeter and can't hit his shot then Miller should go for big numbers. Miller needs a big game as well.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Mark Madsen

Rudy Gay has been thrust into the Phoenix 4 role and struggled at times to adjust. His range should give Madsen fits and his speed and athletic ability should be difficult for Madsen to keep up with. Madsen is a glorified thug in the NBA. He's willing to throw his body at anyone for any reason and picks up a lot of junk by simple intimidation but he isn't the ideal player for an uptempo game. Rudy should feast on this match up if he stays aggressive and focused.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Pau Gasol vs Al Jefferson

The only match up than Memphis should fear. Al Jefferson is a space eating, rebound grabbing animal who can score out to 12' with relative ease while absolutely punishing weaker players in the middle. He is intimidating as hell. Gasol shrinks from players such as this. If Darko is even close to healthy the Grizzlies need to consider him as an option in this game. Al Jefferson is the closest thing the NBA has to an answer for Dwight Howard and he is only 22 yrs old. Is Jefferson really that good? Ask Dallas where Jefferson put up 31 and 14 against the Mavs on the road! Boston may win a title with Garnett this year but Minnesota has a great player for the next 10 years to grow around.
Advantage: Minnesota

Benches: Memphis vs Minnesota

Minnesota has a plethora of big name players on their bench like Antoine Walker, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green and Corey Brewer. the problem is they either haven't learned how to handle the NBA (Telfair, Green, Brewer) or they have lost what star power they used to have (Antoine Walker). Minnesota's name recognition is high but their basketball talent is in question. Memphis' bench had been developing nicely until the 2nd quarter of the Toronto game. The complete disgrace of that quarter will do one of two things: Convince Iavaroni to shorten the bench even more or make the bench realize they have to play better if they want to play at all. It is too soon to know exactly which way the bench will turn but it bears intense scrutiny in this game. Warrick, Swift and Lowry have played well most of the season. Jacobsen has struggled and Kinsey is obviously nipping at his heals for playing time. With the anticipated return of Milicic something has to happen because Iavaroni doesn't want to play 10 players and don't forget Conley could be back next week as well. Memphis' speed off the bench may be too much for Minnesota to handle after playing Dallas and San Antonio over 2 of the last 3 days.
Advantage: Memphis

Update (11.30.07, 10pm)
I heard on the 6pm news that Darko will be available against the Timberwolves. Good news.

Other previews/blogs
Timberwolves Today
Wolves Watch

Got a prediction? Leave it in the comments.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Darko To Return Against Minnesota - Probably

Via the local 6pm news broadcast on WMCTV-Channel 5, it was reported that Darko will likely play Saturday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. They showed clips of Darko practicing today. Apparently the media attended the last part of practice. So naturally...

Ronald Tillery reports more about Darko on the Memphis Edge and provides some additional details...

(by the way, I like how the Memphis Edge gives Ron and other CA writers the ability to get information out quicker)

Team brass continues to say that Milicic will be a “game-time decision” when the Griz host Minnesota tomorrow. But all signs point to Milicic returning after a seven-game layoff.

“It’s fine,” Milicic said. “My conditioning feels good. I’m ready.”

Milicic re-iterated that he won’t play with the thumb heavily taped nor will he wear a protective brace. The 7-footer is left handed so he wouldn’t be able to catch the basketball.

So, Darko feels good enough to play. Love to hear that. We need someone to man up to Al Jefferson on Saturday night.

Now the question is whether Darko or Navarro starts? Your prediction?

Links: International Influx and Issues, All Star Process, The Number 3

Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski discusses the position that Jorge Garbajosa has put the Raptors in with his decision to play this summer even though Spain had already qualified for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. After this interesting look into what GM's like Bryan Colangelo and R.C. Buford face each time they go overseas to scout foreign players, A.W. makes mention of the Grizzlies bringing in Juan Carlos Navarro and what effect Pau Gasol had in bringing him across the pond, as well as Navarro's presence making this a better situation for Gasol than last year's nightmare.

Jack McCallum ( decided to defend himself (and his fellow media members) in reference to the level of outrage that occured when they decided to place Tim Duncan (as well as Amare Stoudemire and Pau Gasol) under the designation of "Center" on the All-Star ballot, rather than the Power Forward position he typically plays. He lists the criteria that the NBA requires for candidates (which I had never read before) and then explains their reasons for their selections, which occasionally leaves more qualified players out in the cold.

David Berri (Wages of Wins) looks at a question that I saw on TrueHoop yesterday and intend to tackle as he did -- although not from a statistical perspective. That question is "Is Three A Magic Number?" when competing for an NBA title? Good read on his part and expect to see something on 3 Shades of Blue in the near future about the subject.

November 2007 in Review

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Memphis Grizzlies finished November at 5-10. This marks their fifth losing November in six seasons. Although, it should be expected that a young team with a first time head coach would get off to a slow start, the up and downs this Grizzlies team has had in the first 15 games are perplexing. A significant fact that can't be ignored is that in most of the games in which the Grizzlies looked good, their opponent was either on the second game of back to backs or in the midst of a road trip. The first win against Seattle we were their third opponent of three in four nights. The second win against Seattle was also the third of three in four nights. In the New Jersey win, we were the first opponent at home after a four game West coast road trip. In the Washington win, we were the fourth of four in five nights. Only our win against Houston saw us facing a relatively rested opponent and performing well. This is a trend that bears following.

Another interesting development was the emergence of Juan Carlos Navarro when the Grizzlies decided to go with the small lineup. Juan Carlos averages almost doubled as a 30+ minute per game starter. However, the downfall was the play of Grizzlies leading scorer Rudy Gay who seemed to struggle with attacking and defending bigger opponents at power forward. With Darko's return coming in December, Coach Iavaroni might look into moving Mike Miller to sixth man to reduce or eliminate the minutes Casey Jacobsen. This also allows the Grizzlies to go small, maintain, or go big by substituting Miller in for Darko/Pau, Rudy or Navarro. It really increases the flexibility of the team without hurting the confidence of Rudy or Darko while getting the most out of Navarro.

December will mark our first reader contest. The 3ShadesofBlue Memphis Grizzlies Fan of the Month contest will debut. To qualify for the contest, our readers just need to comment in eight (8) pre- or post game posts and two (2) other posts in the month of December. The comments can be a score prediction or anything else that furthers discussion (please make sure to leave your email address). The prize for December will be a Memphis Grizzlies replica Road jersey of the 3ShadesofBlue player of the month for December 2007. This contest is open to all of our readers and the jersey will be shipped worldwide (to the best of our ability). All we ask is to email us a picture of you wearing the jersey. Good luck!!!!!!!

You Can Be Like Mike!!!

No, not Michael Jordan but Michael Heisley, the Grizzlies owner.

The Grizzlies have arranged for a truly incredible evening of Grizzlies entertainment. Imagine you and three friends (and yes you can invite me if you wish) sitting courtside for the game of your choice. Not the ones under the basket mind you but the mid-court seats that Heisley and Pitt Hyde sit in during games. Sounds pretty nice doesn't it. Throw in a reserved parking space at the Ford Parking garage. Courtside access to the shootaround before the game. A picture with you and your friends (and that could include me hint, hint) and a Grizzlies player on the court. Dinner at the Chef's table in Opus Restaurant, scoreboard recognition where you make everyone else jealous of the night you are experiencing with your friends (like me) and $50.00 to spend on cool Grizzlies stuff in the Grizz Den.

Sounds too good to be true? Well it isn't. Call 888-HOOP to find out more information on the Owners Experience.

And to think some people still believe that the Grizzlies aren't doing enough to make games special. In 25 years of being an NBA Fan in such cities as Dallas, Washington, Milwaukee and Atlanta I have never heard of such an offer. Is it for everyone. No but for someone wanting to have a truly unique and special night with at an NBA game there simply isn't a better deal available.

By the way, if you inquire how to purchase this incredible evening make sure you mention you read about it here. It won't get you a discount but it will be interesting to see how many people call them after reading about it here. Maybe the Grizzlies will allow us more access if they realize fans actually read this blog!

Thank You Stu Jackson:
As many people know who have read my rantings for a while now, I don't think Stu Jackson likes the Grizzlies. Maybe it was because the team fired him for making the worst trade in NBA history not involving Isiah Thomas (well at least in the top 10).

Does anyone think it was a coincidence that the Grizzlies have home games on back to back Saurday nights going up against some of the biggest college football games of the year? Last week it was Tennessee-Kentucky and Kansas-Missouri while the Grizzlies beat Washington in a partially filled arena. This weekend we get the Minnesota Timberwolves (with Al Jefferson who is probably the best player in the NBA you know nothing about) against the SEC and Big 12 Championship games. It isn't the Grizzlies fault that the fans aren't comnig out to watch yet. Any where in the south it would be difficult to draw fans when they are competing against important college football games.

When the football season is over so are most of our Saturday games. Just a coincidence?

Thanks for nothing Stu. Why don't you just schedule us a game on Super Bowl Sunday next year?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Links: Lowry, Defense and Rookie Ratings

Is Lowry Ready to Start? is the question brought up by our friends over at Ryan McNeil, in an interview with the player, asks Kyle some interesting questions. A must read for Zack and other Grizzlies fans.

Ron Tillery got the jump on a story (way to go Ron) with an article about Iavaroni's search for defense. He talks about Gasol's seeming inability to guard the rim in the paint (something many Grizz fans have noticed for years). Good read. Ron also updated his blog on the Edge.

ESPN rates the rookies and Juan Carlos Navarro comes out on top according to David Thorpe. Unfortunately's T-Mobil Rookie Report doesn't agree as Navarro is rated #7 in their list. 3 Shades of Blue already addressed the issue of which rookie is playing best in the Western Conference.

Props to Raptors HQ for the best looking pre-game comments I have seen so far this season. They weren't very good hosts to our boys but they do make an attractive pre-game blog.

Fellow Grizz Blogger David Jones had a nice blog about the team over on his site, appropriately named David's Memphis Grizzlies Blog.

Is Pau Gasol Hall of Fame material? That question is being brought up by DIME Magazine in an article titled HOF Watch: Pau Gasol.

A sad note for Tigers fans. The San Antonio Spurs have assigned Darius Washington to their D-League affiliate.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Western Conference Rookie of the Month: Durant or Navarro?

With less than a week to go until the end of the month I was wondering how close the race for the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month (ROM) would be.

At first glance I assumed that Kevin Durant would win hands down. After all he has averaged 34 mpg, 19.5 ppg and 4.3 rpg. However he is shooting only 39.3% from the field, 27.8% from the arc and commits 3.19 turnovers per game. Durant's high game for the season has been 27 pts.

Juan Carlos Navarro on the other hand is averaging only 10.5 ppg and 2.1 rpg to go with 2.0 apg but are those numbers misleading? As a starter in three games Navarro is averaging 17.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.2 apg and shooting 51.7% from the field and 38.9% from the arc. Twice already despite the far fewer minutes played Navarro has scored 28 points in a game.

So who is more deserving of the rookie of the month award? The player who has contributed the most to his team or the player who is being given minutes despite his poor play and who is not shooting efficiently?

I know that this is a silly discussion. Durant has the award already being shipped out to Seattle but just the same someone should be putting out press clippings on Juan Carlos Navarro. He may not win the award but he has been at least been good enough to raise the discussion.

UPDATE: According to ESPN and David Berri of Wages of Wins I may not be a blind homer after all.

Links: Darko Interview, Hakim Trade Rumor, Grizzlies Evaluation's Nikola Olic scored another interview with a Memphis Grizzlies' player -- this time with Serbian big man Darko Milicic. It is an intriguing look into the path that brought Darko to Memphis and how much he is enjoying having the opportunity to put his talent on display.

I ask about Memphis again, and how he elected to go out for lunch in uptown Dallas proudly wearing his Grizzlies outfit, looking like he just walked out of practice. In an uncharacteristic move, he started talking faster and louder, and even cracked a smile like the one we saw when he was introduced as a Memphis Grizzly in July.
"Now I'm in Memphis where I have the biggest chance so far of my career. The only thing I can do is work hard and play hard and take advantage of the opportunity. The best possible cure for my hangover from before is exactly what I have here in Memphis, the freedom to play and not be afraid of being benched. Every player likes freedom in his basketball. You have to know that you will not immediately finish back on the bench if you make a mistake"

For Hoopsworld's other Grizzlies' interviews, go to the Grizzlies team page.

According to ESPN, the Golden State Warriors have tried to pry Hakim Warrick away from Memphis by dangling young center Patrick O'Bryant. MemphisX covered this with his usual calculating style and seems to have deemed this an poor trade for the Grizzlies. I have to agree with him. As much as I would like to see the Grizzlies get another big body to further complement Pau and Darko in the frontcourt, I believe that they need a high energy guy (Anderson Varejao, Joakim Noah type of player) given their uptempo style of play more than a plodder. I also agree with X that a backup SF/PF would be preferrable to a soon-to-be free agent center that isn't likely to see any playing time.

There was a recap of last night's win over the Nets on that I found interesting and had some good quotes from the Grizzlies.
"We were in a lot of close games this year and were not successful," Gasol said. "It comes down to us growing and improving in those situations and getting more confidence as a young team. I think we're finally getting it together."

Power Rankings 11.27.07

Power Rankings from 26 & 27 November, 2007
Rankings from previous weeks
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-- CarlCR