Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Get Rid of the Ping Pong Balls

No, not the lottery system ping pong balls used by the NBA (although I wouldn't be against that either). I am talking about the damn Styrofoam ping pong ball antennae tops that the Grizzlies used for luck last year. For some reason known only to God and the Grizzlies marketing team they were brought out last night for the lottery parties. It wasn't enough that last season they didn't work. Maybe this season the reasoning was that they had learned from their mistakes and the luck would work this time.

It didn't. It's time to write that off as a bad idea.

The sad thing was that the Grizzlies otherwise did a great job hosting the lottery parties. ESPN was downtown showing the party nationwide, Grizzlies luminaries including Marc Iavaroni, Eric Hasseltine and some dance team members were present. Coach Iavaroni actually made a point of talking to just about everyone at the event personally. He didn't just sit down and make people come to him either. He walked around introducing himself and being as friendly as anyone could be with so much riding on his career. The team gave away lots of fun prizes from T-shirts to hats to trinkets of all sorts. Everyone there had a great time.

Until the 5th pick of course.

What was somewhat surprising was the apparent lack of understanding about how the lottery would work. Memphis got the pick they were most likely to get. Just like last year by the way. Yes the Grizzlies got the worst possible pick last season but they had a greater probability of getting the 4th pick than the first. This season the team had the greatest probability of picking 5th and that was where we ended up. Memphis wasn't unlucky or screwed. It is the system that is broken not the team.

Speaking of the team, we at 3 Shades of Blue have been saying all year that Wallace was the right man for the job since he is the most experienced GM at scouting and evaluating players entering the league. Well now I can't help but remember that saying 'Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.' Chris Wallace will be given the opportunity to put that reputation to the test. Picking 5th means tough decisions will need to be made.

So another lottery has come and gone and Memphis is still waiting to find that franchise changing player. Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting the players that the Grizzlies bring in to workout and hopefully have a little bit more insight into the mind of Chris Wallace.

In the meantime I think I am just going to go back to bed and cry.

BallHype: hype it up!


SJ said...

No need for the tears just yet. The Grizz are a couple pieces away from being back. You guys really need a big man though.

On second thought I might just let you cry it out...I don't know how you can be optimistic with Kwame Brown and one of the Collins twins.


Bronn said...

I'm a Hawks fan, and I enjoy your blog. Over on Hawksquawk someone was proposing a trade to bring in Mike Miller and the 2010 pick you got from the Lakers. It got me thinking, we don't have anything to offer the Grizzlies. Right now, I'm growing a bit envious of you guys. It's my honest opinion you are two years away, no more, from serious contention in the West.

I can, and will, defend this assertion. You have plenty of pieces in place for the next two years. Rudy Gay is a developing star talent, an athlete in the mold of my man Josh Smith (though he's a much better shooter). Mike Conley is a very talented true point guard-he might become the next elite young point, but shoudl at the very least become a solid distributor, and rotating him with Kyle Lowry puts you in a great position with two different guys. Not quite what they have in Toronto, but it does bear a resemblence. Mike Miller is a greaet scoring swingman who rebounds well, and shares the ball extremely well for such a great shooter. Hakin Warrick ia guy who can be a very solid bench contributor. Darko sitll has time to develop even if he never lives up to the great expecations he carried around. Assuming that Warrick is retained as a RFA, you have all of these under contract through the 2009-2010 season, which is when this team will be dangerous.

Now, half the mock drafts out there have you the Grizzlies taking OJ Mayo. Maybe he'll turn out great, maybe he won't. I know you would have liked to be in the top 2 to have a chance at Michael Beasley. However, the NBA comparisons for Mayo include guys like Ben Gordon, Chauncey Billups. He could turn out to be like a poor man's Kobe. He's a combo guard that will likely become a primary scorer rather quickly. I picture him as a smaller Kevin Durant, shorter but stronger, and with more talent around him. And the late first and early second round pick put you in a position where you could grab TWO guys I'm high on-Natah Jawai, a legitimate internation defensive center, and DJ White from Indiana. Or you could use both those picks to trade up to get Robin Lopez, or maybe Kevin Love if he starts falling. A good draft position to be in.

You also have pieces that other teams are interested in. Juan Carlos Navarro could be a sign and trade guy, and Jarvaris Crittenton is very highly thought of around the league. There are teams who would be interested in getting a young point. You could translate that into a solid rotational big or a 3 point specialist. Perhaps Krstic or Diop from the Nets, or even Channing Frye from Portland with their excess of bigs.

For next season, your roster could look like

PG: Conley/Mayo/Lowry
SG: Mayo/Miller/Lowry
SF: Gay/Miller/Cardinal
PF: White/Warrick/Gay/Collins/ Cardinal
C: Milicic/Jawai/Collins

(not including anyone acquired if you trade Critt and JCN)

Now not next year, but the year after, that figures to be quite dangerous. The key pieces can stick around that long. Conley plays the role of distributor/slasher, Mayo becomes a primary scoring threat, Rudy Gay is a dangerous combo forward to be the secondary scorer, and Miller is an excellent third option who should have plenty of open looks. Warrick can be a solid bench contributor. Jawai is a FC who should bring a lot of front line toughness. DJ White has a long wingspan to make up for a slight height disadvantage, and he brings a lot of toughness and energy with him.

I think it's important for Memphis to hang on to Mike Miller. He provides some veteran leadership and very solid shooting to a young team, and he's signed to very reasonable deal. He creates match-up problems, and rebounds well for a guard. Mike Conley, OJ Mayo, and Rudy Gay can turn into a dynamic core-and this team can make the playoffs before they have to sign any max deals.

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