By Chip Crain
By now most people have read the back and forth comments between Ryan Schwan at Hornets24/7 and our own Josh Coleman about the Grizzlies. I also sent Ryan an email about his comments and he replied with this:
Yeah, I unloaded on your team. Sorry about that. :( I still love your blog!
I actually left out one of the main points I wanted to make about your team - which is that in order to make a quick turnaround from 15-20 wins you have to land that transcendant talent - O'Neal, Duncan, Paul.
I have been thinking about what he wrote and it suddenly dawned on me the problem with the argument about transcendent talent. No we don't appear to possess the transcendental talent yet but in the last three years Memphis has traded Shane Battier for Rudy Gay, acquired Mike Conley with the 4th pick in the draft after Greg Oden, Kevin Durant and Al Horford had already been taken (the Hornets got Chris Paul after Bogut, Marvin Williams and Devin Williams were drafted by the way) and traded Kevin Love and Mike Miller for O J Mayo.
They have been trying to get the transcendental talent he talks about!
Rudy is a near miss but a big step up from Shane Battier right now and is only 22 and starting his 3rd NBA season. Conley, only 20 yrs old, still is looking like the 4th best player taken in the lottery. Consider that after Conley you had Jeff Green, Yi Jianlian, Corey Brewer, Brandon Wright, Joakim Noah, Spencer Hawes, Acie Law, Thaddeus Young, Julian Wright and Al Thornton. Where was the transcendent talent in that list?
No one knows about O J Mayo but there have been some intelligent people who are very impressed with him so far. Memphis hasn't been lucky in the lottery/draft the last few years (unlike New Orleans). As long as the team continues to try and get that transcendent talent they will eventually get lucky.
That is why I am glad the team isn't selling out for players like Zach Randolph and the like. This would only hurt our chances of acquiring the type of talent Memphis won't get in free agency. Maybe Conley will develop to an elite PG. Maybe he will only be average. That still makes him one of the top 15 or so PG's in the world. Rudy Gay is one of the top 50 players in the world right now at any position according to Tom Ziller and he hasn't peaked yet. Mayo is a rookie but no one argued with him being the 3rd pick in last year's draft after Beasley and Rose.
Finally Josh Smith nearly fell into their laps this summer. Sure Atlanta matched immediately but that is what happens with players of that caliber in the NBA. They just aren't available very often and a small market like Memphis has to get lucky and keep shooting for the stars to get that talent. Where would New Orleans be today if Chris Paul had been drafted #1 in that draft and Chicago matched the Hornets offer on Chandler? What if that draft had gone Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut? Where would New Orleans be today?
The bottom line is that Memphis is trying hard to get the type of player you say they need. New Orleans got lucky and had one fall into their laps at #4. Memphis hasn't been so fortunate yet. Gasol, Hamed, Darko, Warrick and Arthur aren't supposed to be the big name players. Memphis still needs to acquire someone to be the Beast on the Bluff (you don't know how many years I have been waiting for the Grizzlies to get a player worthy of that moniker by the way). It isn't going to be Zach Randolph or anyone else in free agency most likely. Memphis will have to parlay the talent they have to acquire someone in a trade or get lucky in the lottery/draft. But they are only that piece away from being surprisingly good with a ton of cap space to fill in the needs off the bench it may have.
Then again, with guys on the bench like Arthur, Crittenton, Lowry, Haddadi and Gasol maybe there won't be that many more holes to fill either.