Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blogging at the Forum

Well tonight I finally got to see what the media sees all the time when covering the Grizzlies. I was got to see the inside of the Don Poier Media Center. It was a very interesting and informative experience. And like any rookie put on the big stage I started off with a fumble. When we were called into the media room to hear Chris Wallace and Marc Iavaroni's comments about the drafting of Kevin Love I forget my pen and failed to hit the record button on my recorder. Boy did I feel stupid.

Of course no one is interested in what I thought of the media center or how I made a fool of myself. Well some people may like reading that but most people want to know about the draft picks and what the Grizzlies thought about their night.

First off Chris Wallace wasn't high fiving anyone when he came into the media center. He was rather subdued in fact. He spoke matter of factly about the selection of Love and what he means for the team. Wallace feels Memphis has a player that is going to be a great rebounder, an excellent outlet passer and who has a lot to learn about playing defense in the NBA. While he did say Love has to learn a lot he also made a very intriguing comment which really stuck in my head. Wallace said that Love is ready to function in a team defense philosophy. He will be where he is supposed to be on defense and not just 50% of the time but every time. That says a lot about Love's basketball intelligence and also a lot about what he felt about some of the people who were supposed to be playing defense for the Grizzlies last season.

Next Wallace left to return to the draft room as Marc Iavaroni took the mike. Iavaroni was clearly excited about the selection of Love. He talked about his strength of charecter, his desire to be great and his intelligence. Marc is clearly thrilled to be having a leader like Kevin Love with the team.

That isn't to say that Wallace isn't excited. Wallace just looked like he had more work to do. Judging from his selection of Donte Green at 28 I think Wallace knew someone was going to slide in the draft and he wanted to make sure the Grizzlies were ready to pounce when that opportunity came up. Wallace also dealt with the trade rumors about attempting to move up to get Beasley and why Memphis wasn't interested. Miami wasn't asking for Mike Miller plus the pick and point guard. They wanted Rudy Gay! Beasley may be a star in the making but there is no way Memphis should give up that much for the right to find out.

My personal feelings are that Love was the smart pick and the right pick. Love will be contributing right away. He has a learning curve of course but he won't be the type of player who hurts the team when he is on the court. Love will immediately improve the team's pick and roll plays as he can set a mean pick and hit the perimeter shot if his man tries to cover the cutter. He will be the best rebounder Memphis has ever had and will ignite the running game with his outlet passes. There may be other players who have better careers but there won't be many and Memphis couldn't afford to miss with this pick. He should team up well with Rudy Gay and Mike Miller to make the team stronger both physically and mentally.

Donte Green is nothing short of a steal. No one expected, myself included, to find a player with this much potential that late in the draft. Green will step right into the hole that was Casey Jacobsen last season and should be a huge improvement immediately. Unlike Love however Green will need much more maturing to reach his full potential. He has a long way to go on defense (don't all Syracuse players) and his shot selection needs to improve but he should have time to do that backing up Rudy Gay. Most importantly he will need to get stronger.

Speaking of stronger, Mike Conley has developed guns. He is ripped. I got a chance to talk to him as the draft was starting and Conley admitted that he had been lifting a lot of weights while taking a class at Ohio State. I asked Mike about his newfound muscles and he said that he worked for a week with Mike Curtis, the strength and conditioning coach and also Kevin O'Neill. That means Mike realizes he needs to improve his strength and defense and is working on it. He also has been playing phone tag with shooting coach Mark Price and is planning on getting together with Mark to work on his shot in Atlanta during the summer. Mike also admitted being a little concerned about all the trade rumors about him but was very grateful to hear Chris Wallace say Conley was not being discussed in a trade. He likes being with the Grizzlies and doesn't want to go anywhere.

Kyle Lowry was there and he told me that he was planning on spending most of the summer in Philadelphia but he too is going to be working on his shot with Mark Price. Kyle didn't get the trade assurance that Conley did and he said he understands this. It's a business and it wasn't harder this year than it was last year hearing the Grizzlies wanted Conley in the draft. I got the impression that Kyle isn't going to let these things bother him and he will come to camp ready to win the starting job. He just seems to have the attitude that he is using these things as motivation.

Last season started with a front line of Gasol, Gay and Milicic. Backing that line up was Stromile Swift, Casey Jacobsen and Hakim Warrick. Next season it looks to be Gay, Love and Milicic with Donte Green, Hakim Warrick and Marc Gasol backing up. That is a huge improvement on paper. Now it will be wait and see if the paper translates onto the court.

ADDENDUM: Learned another lesson tonight. Don't leave before the Grizzlies tell you the night is over. I left before the news of the Mayo-Love trade and the Greene-Arthur deal was announced. Instead of being in the meeting with the team hearing how they feel about the deal I am lying in bed wondering why I thought it was so important to get home and get some sleep! I guess this shows you are never to old to stop learning.

BallHype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

is your shit always this boring?

Dave said...

That's very interesting news on Mike Conley. He needs to build his strength up like Jameer Nelson did to avoid being a defensive liability against big guards. That'll make a big difference. His added strength should help is finishing in the lane too which was below par last season and needs to improve.

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