Friday, June 27, 2008

O.J. Mayo -- Guiding Star or Solar Flare?

Guiding star (Polaris): Polaris more commonly known as the North(ern) Star or the Pole Star, and sometimes known as the Lodestar, is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor. It is very close to the north celestial pole making it the current northern pole star. (Wikipedia)

Nearly everyone in the Memphis area has seen the North Star at some point or another in their lifetime. It is the brightest star you can see at night and your attention is drawn to it, almost as if by a tractor beam. It directs you north, even when other stars appear to be dim and hazy, as they change position from night to night. It is the star that the mariners of old used to guide them as they set out on voyages to circle the globe.

It is interesting to note that there is no South(ern) Star. That means that there is no star that will guide you down -- only up. That's how it is in the NBA as well. Real stars lead you upwards, out of the muck and the mire, towards greater things. They don't drag you down into the mud -- they pull you out of it.

Solar flare: A flare is defined as a sudden, rapid, and intense variation in brightness.

Solar flares are rarely seen by the naked eye, but they are very common and have a negligible effect on our weather here on Earth. A flare is violent, but brief -- more of a hiccup than a seizure. Flares vary in their occurrence, as they are very inconsistent, and therefore hard to track unless you are willing to observe the sun relentlessly.

The NBA has had its share of solar flares, as well. Most teams have had "the next great thing" pass through their organization at some point or another. That player might be better served as a complementary piece to a "real star" or he could have other issues that lead him to never fulfill his potential, such as attitude or injuries. Some of these flares focus on individual goals of money and fame (leading to infamy in many cases), rather than team success. Needless to say, there are a lot more flares than stars in the NBA each and every year.

What will O.J. Mayo be in his tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies? He has the talent and potential to be one of the greatest players to ever wear an NBA uniform. He has been profiled in basketball magazines and websites since before junior high school and has been successful (to some degree or another) everywhere he has played. He could be the player that lifts the Memphis Grizzlies out of the backwoods swamp they currently inhabit.

Or, he could play out his rookie contract in Memphis with one eye on the bigger markets of New York, Los Angeles and Miami and bolt when the opportunity presents itself. He could be a franchise's savior or he could be a franchise's coffin nail. make no mistake about it -- trading away the consistency of Kevin Love for the promise of O.J. Mayo is the biggest risk/reward play that Memphis could afford to make in this draft (because there is no way they were trading Rudy Gay for Michael Beasley). This move will likely define the Memphis Grizzlies organization for the next decade.

One last note regarding astronomy: The North Star is actually a cluster of three stars, not just one. Given the success of Boston, San Antonio, Phoenix and others with "The Big Three" in recent seasons, it does give fans hope with the presence of Mike Conley and Rudy Gay flanking Mayo on the roster. As always, we'll have to wait and see what happens to make the final determination. I hope for the sake of Grizzlies fans that our newest star shines bright and true.

BallHype: hype it up!


Brad Mc said...

Nice post! I guess I'm not giving up on the Grizzlies after all. They actually took a step forward. Who knows, it might be a giant step forward. With any kind of splash in free agency, this could be a GIANT step forward. I still have hope, but as you mentioned, there is always the possibility that Mayo will play out his rookie contract with an eye on a bigger deal in a larger market. The Mayo, Gay, Conley trio is nothing to frown about though.

Anonymous said...

Joshua, do we still have money to sign a top free agent this year such as Josh Smith? Do you think we would spend it? That would be awesome, totally awesome. Also we should trade Kyle Lowry for CDR or DeAndre Jordan.

Chip Crain said...

While the Northern Hemisphere has the North Star the Southern Hemisphere has the Southern Cross.

I could make a wise crack about that symbolism but I'll just leave it up to everyone else's imagination instead.

Joshua Coleman said...

The way I see it, they won't have the cap space to pick up a top-level free agent, so don't even think about Josh Smith, Monta Ellis, Andre Igoudala or Emeka Okafor. There is the possibility of a mid-level player (Mickael Pietrus or James Jones) being signed, but I think that the next player acquisition will be by trade, as well. Expect Hakim Warrick, Kyle Lowry and Darko Milicic to be mentioned in several trade rumors through the rest of the offseason.

Anonymous said...

Do you think we will sign a top one next year, or are we just gonna stick to the team we have now?

Chip Crain said...

Heisley dealt with this very issue in today's press conference. He said that he is willing to spend money on a free agent once the team is in position to make a serious step forward. First the team has to accumulate some consistency with the young players they currently have. He doesn't want to sign an older FA only to have him past his prime when the rest of the team is coming into their prime.

Consider that a starting lineup of Conley, Mayo, Gay, Darko and Arthur means the team has not one starter currently over 22 years old. In 2-3 years these players will be reaching the best years of their careers and then adding a FA who can accentuate the talents the team has accumulated makes sense.

Right now it could get the team a few more wins but won't get us to the playoffs and definately not beyond the first round. Better to keep accumulating talented players and remain patient with the FA money.

I am not saying he is correct but it is his money and that is his plan.