Thursday, August 21, 2008

Math: When 1+1 Does Not Equal 2

Robert Ruark's famous Old Man once said: "One boy is all boy, two boys is half a boy and three boys is no boy at all." In the same vein, football has adopted the saying that "two quarterbacks equals no quarterback". In a way, they both say the same thing, which is that sometimes, there is indeed such a thing as too much of a good thing.

As of right now, the Grizzlies depth chart for the players in contention for the much-maligned Three Year Plan looks a little something like this:

PG: Mike Conley/Kyle Lowry
SG: O.J. Mayo/Javaris Crittenton
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Hakim Warrick/Darrell Arthur
C: Darko Milicic/Marc Gasol

The other players on the team are as follows:

Marko Jaric (PG/SG/SF?), Antoine Walker (SF/PF), Greg Buckner (SG/SF?)

Notice something about those young guys at four of the five positions above? That's right -- there are two of them fighting for the same minutes at the same position. At this point, we suspect that we know who the eventual winners will be, but in reality we don't actually know yet. That doubt in our minds is even more present in their's, because each of them truly believes that they deserve the lion's share of minutes. Well, except maybe for Darko. I don't know what he believes -- mostly because I'm too petrified of him to study him at length. Do you blame me?

Danica McKellar, who actually authored a math book.

There are 48 available minutes at each of those 5 positions and at some point in this season, a player is going to step up and show that he is worthy of 28-35 of them, rather than 13-20. But until that happens, it is anyone's game and that is when issues can arise.

Many people lambasted Chris Wallace for not moving one of the young guards (typically either Kyle Lowry or Javaris Crittenton) during the draft or in the offseason to this point, feeling that there were too many good young players with not enough places to play in the backcourt. I agree about the core idea (too much/not enough), but not about their solution. In this regard, I think that these players have to prove which of them is better and thusly deserve to stay and play in Memphis. In particular, the quartet of Conley, Lowry, Mayo and Critt have proven absolutely nothing to anyone at this point and all should be striving to show what they are capable of. When that happens, then a move can be made based on good evaluations and information. That might be after two months, at the trade deadline or possibly even next offseason. But once it becomes apparent that Player A is a keeper and Player Q is expendable, a move must be made before chemistry is upset and that player's value takes a hit.

With all of that said, I have had some interesting conversations lately about who the perceived "odd man out" is. Fans around the league seem to believe that it is Javaris Crittenton, as his name has popped up in numerous trade rumors. In my unqualified, unmedicated opinion, it would appear that Kyle Lowry is the far more likely choice based on a number of reasons.

First, he was the last draft choice of the old regime led by Jerry West, while the other three guards have been brought in by Chris Wallace. That alone has to count for something, as has been noted by my co-blogger Zack on numerous occasions.

Next, while he is full of grit, determination and tenacity, the perception is that his upside is much more limited than the other three players fighting for minutes in the backcourt. As we all know, perception all too often becomes reality when dealing with unmeasurable qualities like potential. The notion than Conley will become better than Lowry, even if he isn't yet there in many people's minds, will be an important factor in this decision.

Finally, he is a PG and a PG only. Whereas Mayo and Critt (both in the 6'4"-6'5" range) are reputed to be capable of playing either guard spot, meaning that a three guard rotation of Conley/Mayo/Critt is capable of splitting the 96 minutes at PG & SG without there being a dropoff. As anyone who saw the Grizzlies put Conley and Lowry on the floor at the same time last year could tell you, it might have given the team an extra quality ballhandler on the floor, but the lost size was a big issue. That, above all else, proved that 1+1 did not equal a 2 guard on the floor.

Hopefully, all of these things will work themselves out and the Grizzlies will find themselves with quality players at all 5 positions by the end of the season, putting them in a position to draft based solely upon "Best Player Available", rather than worrying about need. Because that's how you truly get better thru the draft -- which appears to be the best way that Grizzlies will have to rise up through the ranks once again and return to the postseason.

BallHype: hype it up!

No comments: