By Chip Crain
Memphis played a pre-season game against Indiana's depleted rosted Monday night at the FedEx Forum and for the most part of the 2nd half (and parts of the 1st half) had a comfortable lead. Marc Gasol, one of the key players acquired in the Pau Gasol trade had his first double-double in a Grizz uniform with 14 pts, 10 boards and 4 nice assists. Darrell Arthur, another piece of the trade had 5 pts and 4 rebounds in only 11 minutes and looks very promising as a 20 yr rookie.
Javaris Crittenton, the only remaining piece from that trade and the only player left with actual NBA experience, did not play. That was a coaching decision by the way. He hasn't hardly played at all this pre-season. So far he has logged 21:04 total playing time in 4 pre-season games.
This is the guy Chris Wallace insisted be included in the trade?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not criticizing Wallace for making the move. After all Crittenton is still only 19 yrs old and had a lot of potential as a 6-5 swing guard. He plays tough defense. He can get into the lane. He just needs to develop a more consistent outside shot and most importantly start making better decisions with the ball especially when he gets to the lane. This comes with experience. Javaris was the youngest player in the league last season and had to adjust from high school ball to college to Phil Jackson to Marc Iavaroni. Right now he is working with his 4th head coach and his 5th defensive strategy in the last 5 years. That would mess with anyone's development.
Maybe Crittenton is being held out right now to showcase other players for potential trades. Greg Buckner, Marco Jaric and Quinton Ross all would be attractive in the right situation for a possible move. It is possible that the Grizzlies are trying to showcase one of these players while hiding Javaris in the shadows. Who knows what is happening behind the closed doors of the Grizzlies front office? It just doesn't seem likely that Crittenton would be sitting if Iavaroni wanted him in the game. After all, Iavaroni needs to show improvement now even if the owner/GM are thinking about a three year plan. I know I would want to be playing the best I had if I was a coach on the hot seat.
So one has to wonder why Javaris hasn't been getting his minutes. He looked decent in the summer league games in Las Vegas. He turned heads in the pro-am league in Atlanta and got good reviews from the people at the Mark Price Shooting Clinic who said he has dramatically improved his footwork. Still he sits on the bench waiting for an opportunity.
We heard his defense isn't supposed to be an issue, he worked hard on his shooting and he worked hard on his footwork and conditioning this summer. So what did he miss? Why isn't he playing?
It has to be his passing. Last year Javaris proved he was capable of getting into the lane but not capable of dishing out of the lane once he got there. His decision making seemed very immature and without a decent enough outside shot to force anyone to worry about that created problems when he was on the floor. Basically once Javaris got the ball he would either throw up a bad shot from the outside, drive inside where he put up a forced shot or threw the ball away. Not exactly a great reputation to develop as a young PG.
It would appear that despite his hard work this summer, and from all indications he did work hard, he still hasn't overcome the basic problem that he brought to Memphis last season. He is a great talent but he still has a lot to learn about how to play the game. He can't simply out-talent guys at this level. He has to learn how to be a player on a team not in spite of the team.
And with the competition in the backcourt that means he isn't going to get a lot of PT to learn that lesson in game situations.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
By Chip Crain