Friday, October 3, 2008

Previewing the Centers

By Joshua Coleman

Year after year since they arrived in Memphis, the Grizzlies have run out a ragtag group to man the pivot. Other than Lorenzen Wright, who performed admirably the majority of his time in his hometown, the other players have either been undersized (Stromile Swift, Alexander Johnson, Lawrence Roberts, Andre Brown) or undertalented (Jake Tsakalidis, Ike Austin, Cezary Trybanski) or both (Mike Batiste). So the fact that they will be trotting out not one, not two, but three legitimate 7-footers is practically a miracle of epic proportions. The additional thought that at least two of them are worthy rotational players and the third is a worthwhile project makes me all tingly inside.

The primary job of the center in the modern NBA is that of a rebounder and defensive presence. Other than the players of Yao Ming and Al Jefferson's offensive skill or Amare Stoudemire and Dwight Howard's athletic prowess, centers just aren't looked to as scorers nowadays. The Sameuel Dalembert's, Tyson Chandler's and Andrew Bogut's are the norm for the position now. When looking at Darko Milicic, Marc Gasol and Hamed Haddadi, it seems apparent that they favor the latter grouping more than the former. All three are known for their hard-nosed defense, physicality in the paint and solid rebounding. Let's take a closer look at each of them.

The Players:

Darko Milicic - As I said previously when talking about the Power Forwards, Darko isn't likely to ever reach the expectations that certain people had for him when he was drafted #2 overall in 2003, but that doesn't mean that he cannot be a quality NBA starter. After all, he's only 23 years old and has limited mileage on him considering that he barely played while in Detroit for two and a half seasons. Darko's strengths are in his positional defense and shot-blocking, although he did exhibit a deft passing touch last year from the high and low post positions. With the thumb on his shooting hand finally healed, we might get to see more of the player that posted 6 games of double-digit scoring in his first 15 appearances as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. If he winds up splitting time between the PF and C positions, his offense will definitely need to be raised to a new level. The bigger question for The Dark One is where his confidence level is at, since that has been the biggest road block to greater success in his career. If he ever gets out of his own head, the rest of the league should be very worried.

Marc Gasol - Pau's little brother is no stranger to Memphis. After his performance in the Olympics, he's probably not a stranger to the rest of the NBA now either. If Grizzlies fans had any doubt, Marc proved that he wasn't his much maligned sibling by putting Chris Bosh squarely on his backside when Spain met Team USA. The reigning MVP of the ACB League in Spain comes across the pond with a chip on his shoulder after not garnering a scholarship offer from any big name schools after graduating high school here in Memphis. While he doesn't have the offensive skillset of Pau, he has already displayed that he is much tougher and more physical in the paint, along with growing far superior facial hair, which is important to me since I'm also bearded on occasion. If what he has shown in Spain translates well to the NBA, then Gasol could find himself with a substantial amount of playing time this year.

Hamed Haddadi - The final member of the international trio manning the pivot is the Iranian import who recently got clearance to enter the United States. Although there might be a few communication issues that have to be overcome (such as GM Chris Wallace accidentally giving Haddadi the equivalent of "the bird" by displaying a thumbs up in practice) and he should definitely be classified as a project, but as the saying goes, 7-footers don't grow on trees. He displayed plenty of raw ability in the Olympics, leading all players in rebounding and shot-blocking. His new teammates have been very complimentary of his skill level over the past week, giving hope that he might be able to contribute as soon as this season if the necessity should arise.

(And you thought that I couldn't do that without a camel joke.)

CONCLUSION: While the Grizzlies undoubtedly have more potential than ever before at the center position, it is anyone's guess how well the two newest additions will transition to the NBA and whether or not Darko will finally "get it". If the Grizzlies manage to get an average of 15-17 ppg, 13-15 rpg and 3-4 bpg each and every night from their centers, then it will take a lot of pressure off the rest of the team who will have the knowledge that they have a capable shot-blocker behind them on defense, as well as a solid rebounder and space eater. The Grizzlies will finally have some intimidators in the paint this season -- something that is long overdue.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Previewing the Power Forwards

By Joshua Coleman

With the Point Guards, there appears to be a defined rotation. For the Small Forwards, there is The Man and everyone else. Even for the Shooting Guards, we have a good idea of who is going to play and how much. But for the Power Forwards...the phrase "total crapshoot" comes to mind.

Hakim Warrick is the presumed starter, Darrell Arthur is the rookie, Antoine Walker is the mercurial veteran in a contract year and Darko Milicic is the enigma. Marc Iavaroni included Rudy Gay in that group when we interviewed him, but after this comment that Chris Herrington posted, I'm not very confident that we'll see #22 manning the 4 anytime soon:

“We’ve got a lot of [power] forwards on this team, and I’ve told them: If I have to play your position, something is wrong.”

Really, the PF position is one of the glass being both half full and half empty. Guys are either good on offense (Warrick and Walker) or on defense (Darko) or talented, but completely unproven and inexperienced (Arthur). No one appears to be a complete package in the mold of presumed starters Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay. That means that any of those four players could garner significant playing time this season. That is both intriguing and maddening at the same time.

The Players:

Hakim Warrick - The Syracuse product is well known by Grizzlies fans as he enters the 4th year of his career. He has proven to be a skilled scorer with his solid mid-range game and impressive dunking ability. He's an average rebounder for his size, nabbing 7 boards a game as a starter last year and has extended his range out to 18 feet on his jumper. The areas of his game that prevent Hak from being a surefire starter in the NBA are his complete lack of passing skills and his poor defense. I know that I get accused of picking on him from time to time, but Javaris Crittenton played 61% fewer minutes than Hak last year (678 total minutes to 1754 minutes) and Critt only fell two assists shy of matching Warrick's total for the year, which was 53. I understand that PF's aren't expected to pass the ball as much as guards, but most starters at least average a dime per game. Even Darko Milicic averaged a higher number than that while playing with an injured thumb the majority of the season. For Hakim to remain a starter under the new defensive-minded coaching staff, he's going to have to start doing more than just scoring and rebounding.

Darrell Arthur - In assessing Arthur's game, he actually reminds me quite a bit of the aforementioned Hakim Warrick. An athletic forward who excels from mid-range and might not be quite big enough to bang with the more physical post players in the league. The one thing that separates him from Warrick so far is his shot-blocking, as he has averaged better than one per game through two years at Kansas. Enough has already been written and said about his blunder at the Rookie Transition program, so I won't waste any more in this space. I don't see DA making a big impact this year, but he might show enough to make a case as the future starting PF, which could make Hak trade bait by January/February.

Antoine Walker - What is there left to say about 'Toine at this point? He's a good rebounder and he loves to shoot -- especially from the perimeter. Next!

Ok, just kidding. There are two things that make me think that Walker could actually be an asset this year: money and more money. That's right, the Master of the Shimmy will make $9 million this year and knows that there won't be any teams that will pick up his option for next season, so he's basically in a contract year. That means that he will give more than the 60% effort (since I'm being generous) he gave the T'Pups last year. If that's the case, then he could turn out to be a valuable trade piece at the deadline. His range and his rebounding ability will also be assets if he still has anything left in the tank. The question is still what does he have left in the tank.

Darko Milicic - Finally, a power forward with some power in his game. If there is one thing I know about Darko from last year, it is this: He is better than he exhibited after he injured his thumb. I know that he will never be the player that Joe Dumars (and Chad Ford, God bless him) envisioned when he was selected #2 overall, but I definitely think that he can be a solid rotational player for a playoff contender. Last year he displayed the ability to be an effective defender, especially against low post titans like Tim Duncan and Yao Ming. In fact, I haven't seen anyone frustrate Duncan so much since Rasheed Wallace got inside his head during the first part of the 2005 Finals. Fans of the Mad Serbian have told me repeatedly that Darko is best utilized as a PF. It appears that we will now see how true that is. The Dark One will need to find something other than the lefty hook shot in his arsenal if he plans on surviving the season without being mercilessly booed. Shaving off the sparse mustache he sported for much of last year wouldn't hurt either.

CONCLUSION: I don't know if Warrick or Walker will be the starter at the beginning of the season, or if Darko will be the closer. Darrell Arthur showed lottery level talent in college, but still fell all the way to #28 in the draft for unexplained reasons. This motley crew undoubtedly makes up the weakest position for the Grizzlies this year, but if all of them will commit to defense and rebounding, then two of them might survive until training camp next year. In any case, I don't believe that any of them will enter this season with preconceived notions about how much playing time they will be given, nor should they. This position is in need of serious help as the Grizzlies move forward.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Who The H is Brent Petway?

Remember that big free agent splash we were hoping for?

Perhaps a signing of a "diamond in the rough?"

It is here, for grizzle my nizzle.

The one, the only Brent Petway.

Aside from his last name sounding like a third-rate store to buy dog food, Mr. Petway is 6''8 and 205 pounds. Loosely translated, that means Hakim Warrick looks like Bob Sapp compared to this guy.

Just kidding. Hakim is 6'9 and 219.

Petway will bring quickness and athleticism to the 4-spot for the Grizz in camp, and he brings with him a championship!

(I know, I know, its a D-League Slam Dunk Championship, but I'm trying to be positive. Sunshine Patrol has their claws in me but I'm not giving in quite yet.)

Petway is not a good rebounder upon glance of his stats.

He averaged 3.8 rebounds per contest with the Idaho Stampede. He did shoot 54.6 percent from the field, which is good for a 4-man.

But 3.8 rebounds?? Come on. Boozer is 6'8 and Ben Wallace has to be 6'6 and he grabs 11 a game! His game minutes are unknown at this point, but he started 27 contests for the Stampede.

In other camp fodder news, the Grizz have brought on Malick Badiane. Big Bad Badiane (I hope he stays on just so I can call him that) averaged 4.4 rebounds a contest starting all 5 summer league games and playing 19 minutes. He looked raw, but looked to be a decent rebounder and could spell Darko/Arthur or make a good IR player. He might get splinters in his posterior, but he could be a help when and if called upon.

This brings our camp roster to the maximum 16. Out of the two, I would go with Badiane. He played with our summer league team as did Petway, but Badiane made more of an impression, and got more minutes alongside Conley, Mayo etc. Familiarity, no matter how little is always a positive, along with his rebounding stats are decent for a raw talent who could develop into a backup and not just a pine-rider.

Regardless, the Grizz have some bodies to put Darko and Arthur up against in camp. I'm calling it now: The Grizz need frontcourt help, and they will look to Malick Badiane for the 15th roster spot.

Previewing the Shooting Guards

by Joshua Coleman

So far this week, Chip has covered the Point Guards and Small Forwards. In terms of competition for playing time, those two are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Throughout this offseason, many people have thought that the Shooting Guard position would be closer to SF than PG regarding that area of expectations. As usual, I have a slightly different perspective on what is going to take place this season as everyone anticipates the introduction of Ovinton J'Anthony Mayo to the NBA.

Will O.J. Mayo start the most games at SG this year barring injury? Yes.
Will O.J. Mayo rival Rudy Gay's death grip on playing time for his position? No...and here's why. First, Mayo is a rookie and we all know what that means: transition and the dreaded "rookie wall". Second, he has another young guard by the name of Javaris Crittenton on the roster that will garner some playing time this year, too. Third, the team will probably give some token playing time to Marko Jaric at that position to keep his trade value at something above the "Cardinal Line" (the Mendoza Line for trade bait) this year. Finally, Mayo is a long-term investment for this team, so they want him to get enough PT to gain experience, but no too much, which leads to unnecessary wear-and-tear on young players and can contribute to nagging injuries.

So let's look at how they all break down.

The Players:

O.J. Mayo - There hasn't been a rookie arrive in Memphis with this level of expectations since.....well....ever, to be quite honest. Some people are expecting him to win Rookie of the Year and score 20 ppg. Others believe that he will be the Superstar that the team has been searching for. My expectations (as per usual) are a little milder than that. I expect that Mayo will be a solid, if erratic, contributor this season, providing good defense and perimeter shooting, along with some decent playmaking ability from the off-guard spot early on. If he continues to make shots as well as he has recently (reportedly he's making everything in sight in pickup games with his teammates), then he could post some very solid numbers in his rookie campaign. Even though I stated above that I don't expect him to have a stranglehold on playing time, I do expect Mayo to average 24-28 mpg this year. Mayo's determination and drive to succeed could be the turning point in this franchise as they look to climb the ladder back into the postseason in the future.

Javaris Crittenton - Critt was the subject of much scrutiny after the trade last year that sent Pau Gasol to Los Angeles. Mostly this was because he was the only player coming back in the deal that gave the home fans any hope, since everyone knew that Kwame Brown and Aaron McKie were just future cap space. Javaris didn't really disappoint anyone, but I don't think that he has truly impressed all that many either. As yet another young player who professes to be a point guard, he needs to improve his playmaking ability for his teammates period just to get onto the floor. Too often he plays faster than he should, which is an all-too-common problem for young players who need to learn how to let the game come to them. If his shooting has improved over the summer, he should definitely be the first guard off the bench and see plenty of time at the 2.

Marko Jaric - While Chip might insist on putting him at every position on the roster in order to post as many pictures of his lovely fiancée as possible, I'm placing him here because that's where I truly believe that he will get the majority of his playing time. Jaric isn't particularly spectacular at any one area (other than dating apparently), but he doesn't have a glaring weakness either, which makes him a suitable choice to get some minutes backing up Mayo and Critt if either of them are injured or have cold shooting nights.

Greg Buckner - The "forgotten" man in the draft night trade, Buckner is a solid defender who is rather non-descript in every other area of the game. Given the details of his contract, it is unlikely that Buckner will be on the team beyond this year, which means that he probably won't garner much playing time this year as he isn't part of the future of the team.

CONCLUSION: I think that fans should expect O.J. Mayo to get 50-65% of the available playing time this season, Crittenton to receive 30-35% and Jaric to get whatever happens to be left over. Mayo might not come out strong at the onset of his first NBA season, but I expect that by the end of the year he'll have people talking about him across the NBA landscape. Critt has an excellent shot at making an impact in his second season as well. What the Grizzlies truly need from the position this year is some solid defense and perimeter shooting, both of which can be provided by these two young players. If they can chip in 4-6 assists and 6-8 rebounds a night combined too, then things will definitely be looking up in the Bluff City.

Grizzlies Open Practice but Close the State of the Franchise


The Memphis Grizzlies are opening their doors again for their annual free Open Practice, and this year fans are invited to stick around after practice for a tip-off party to the 2008-09 season on Saturday, October 4 at FedExForum.

Fans attending the practice will get the chance to see O.J. Mayo, fellow 2008 draftee Darrell Arthur and Olympic hero Marc Gasol on the floor of FedExForum for the first time, along with Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and the rest of the 2008-09 Grizzlies squad. Grizzlies Head Coach Marc Iavaroni will run players through multiple drills and scrimmages that fans can watch as they prepare for the 2008-09 season.

After the official practice, the Grizzlies are inviting fans to a party to tip off the 2008-09 season, which will be held at FedExForum immediately following the Open Practice. Fans will be able to get autographs, take photos and ask questions of their favorite Grizzlies players, coaches and front office members. The fun doesn’t stop there though, as fans in attendance will also have the chance to shoot free-throws on FedExForum’s floor, meet the Grizz Girls, enjoy inflatable games, face painters, balloon artists and much more.

Doors for the Open Practice open at 10:30 a.m., with the practice beginning at 11:30 a.m. There will be free parking available in the Ford Parking Garage at FedExForum for the event.

This is the media release from the Grizzlies. What isn't mentioned is the decision to no longer have a State of the Franchise meeting for season ticket holders prior to the open practice. Originally I was only told "They're just not doing one this year." However last night Chris Wallace called me at home to talk about a different question and he explained that Michael Heisley was not expected to be available on October 4th. Honestly there really wouldn't be a reason to do a State of the Franchise if Michael Heisley wasn't there.

I love the open practice. I think it is great that the team is having a party after the practice so people can get caught up in the excitement of the team and the players and what is happening here. It is a bit upsetting however that the people who have paid a lot of money for the right to attend every one of the games aren't going to get the pep talk like they have in years past.

And yes the State of the Franchise meeting was simply a pep talk. They weren't going to open the books, discuss the mechanics of making the trades involving Pau Gasol and O J Mayo or even what enticements they used to get Haddadi or Marc Gasol to sign with the team. In other words, like the State of the Union, the State of the Franchise meeting was more of a way to rally the faithful to the cause as much as anything else but isn't that needed right now?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Previewing the Small Forwards

by Chip Crain

Yesterday we tackled the position with the most competition and controversy swirling around it -- the Point Guards. Today we move to the one position where there is absolutely no argument about who will be starting and garnering the highest share of playing time -- Small Forward.

Why is this blog titled Previewing the Small Forwards? Shouldn't it be Previewing the Small Forward? Like in singular not plural? I mean does anyone feel the Grizzlies have a 2nd Small Forward on the team?

That question sums up the issue at small forward on the Grizzlies. When Mike Miller was sent to Minnesota for O.J. Mayo, not only did Memphis sacrifice their starting SG, but also their backup SF. Mayo can do a lot of things, but playing the 3 isn't likely to be one of them.

So Memphis has a player capable of being a star in this league but nothing behind him worth mentioning (although I will mention the candidates later anyway). The best case scenario for the Grizzlies is Rudy to average 38-40 mpg and make the next step forward along the path to becoming a major player in this league. The worst case scenario is an early season injury that prevents him from playing most of the year.

Please pretend I never even wrote that last sentence.

The Players:

Rudy Gay - What more needs to be said about the best player left on the Grizzlies team after the purge that began in January? Rudy can do it all. He can score 20 ppg, he can run, he can jump over any player in the league and still has legitimate three point range on his shot. What hasn't Rudy shown he can do? Well ball control has always been a problem for Rudy. He has freakishly long arms that make it difficult to prevent smaller players from harassing his dribble. He has been suspect on defense but that could easily be more the result of questionable coaching since he seems to have the fundamentals down. His rebounding is weak for a small forward. Finally passing is a weakness in Rudy's game. It has been argued that there weren't many other options for Rudy to pass to last year but he did have other options. At least compared to this season. Rudy has become the focal point for defenses to stop. His passing has to improve to really achieve the greatness predicted for him. Great players improve those around him. The easiest way to accomplish that is to share the rock with your open teammates.

Quinton Ross - Quinton Ross was signed to a last second contract with the Grizzlies apparently to provide Rudy Gay at least minimal minutes of rest this year. Quinton has the reputation of being a defensive specialist on the perimeter. He can and has guarded everyone from Manu Ginobili to Allen Iverson to Tony Parker and has had success against all of them. Ross could see minutes as shooting guard as well but that is unlikely with the logjam of players available for Iavaroni. If Ross plays well then possibly that would give the Grizzlies more options in playing Rudy Gay at PF however.

Greg Buckner - If there is a player on this team that will become best friends with Kevin O'Neill it should be Greg Buckner. He is the epitome of a team player. Buckner is the type of player other players don't enjoy facing up against. He's scrappy and tough and can play defense. The problem with Buckner has always been the other side of the court. The 9 year veteran out of Clemson has never cracked 7 ppg and in today's game that simply isn't good enough. The days of the one dimensional player are gone. In limited minutes Buckner may be able to get by as strictly a defensive specialist but at 6-4 he will struggle in that role against taller SF's in the league. Buckner's main contribution may come on the practice court as he shows the young players what it takes in effort to make it in this league. Veteran leadership is needed on this team and possibly Buckner could be the guy to provide it.

Marko Jaric - I know. I put Marko down as a possibility at every position but I swear I am stopping now. At least I hope I am stopping now because this is about as far as I can go with Jaric. At 6-7 Marko has the size to compete with backup SF's in the league and with his 3 pt shooting and passing ability he could really open up lanes for the slashers and big men on the team. He won't ever be a physical player however so you can forget banging underneath or grabbing rebounds as skills he brings to the position. His foot speed is a liability in the backcourt but is adequate for the SF position as well.

Antoine Walker - Okay. Stop laughing. I realize that the Shimmy Shaker is 31 and hasn't played the 3 spot adequately since his Celtic days and even then was questionable as a 3 but we are only talking about 10-12 minutes most nights and against backup players. Walker can give people fits in that time frame. He has 3 pt range and can rebound extremely well. Sure his foot speed is weak but are there many players coming off the bench in the NBA that won't have just as much trouble stopping Toine as Toine will have stopping them? Memphis won't be running with Walker at the 3 very often but that isn't all bad with the half-court scorers the team possesses. When motivated Walker has the type of personality that can motivate teammates to play better and Walker has millions of reasons to be motivated this season. Expiring contracts can have that type of effect on players.

CONCLUSION: It really isn't that difficult to see what the Grizzlies need this season from Rudy. He has to lead the team in scoring and he has to be one of two players to lead the team in minutes played for the season. It would be great for the team if Rudy also raised his rebounding number to 6+ a game and his assists went up to about 3 a game. Neither of these numbers is unreasonable by the way. If Rudy goes down to injury, even for a few weeks, there is nothing the Grizzlies could do to replace his production. Imagine if the Cavs lost LeBron. He's that important to this team. The big difference for the future is that unlike the Cavs the cupboard isn't empty behind Rudy for long. Mayo, Conley and the rest of the baby Grizzlies will come to Rudy's rescue very soon. I just don't believe it will be this year.

Helping the Public Understand the Grizzlies

Recently our very own Joshua Coleman sat down with Jon Burkett of the MVN Network to discuss the Grizzlies. The interview is simply one of the best explanantions of why he started the blog, his perspective on the recent moves of the Grizzlies and what he believes is to be expected moving forward. I whole-heartedly recommend everyone read this.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Previewing the Point Guards:

by Chip Crain

This is the official kick off 3 Shades of Blue's pre-season coverage of your Memphis Grizzlies (like you came here to read our views on any other team anyway!).

Each day this week the guys at the 3SOB will cover a new position in detail to give our readers the most comprehensive and informative information on this website. We hope to have the most comprehensive coverage over the Internet but don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves just yet.

To begin the pre-season review it seemed appropriate to start at the most debated position on the team: point guard.

Memphis returns three players who consider themselves point guards from last season's team and none of the players have two full years of experience nor have reached their 23rd birthday yet (Conley, Lowry and Crittenton). So what do the Grizzlies do on draft night? They trade away their best returning performer and their draft pick who filled a need for a player who considers himself a point guard (Mayo). Included in the trade for Mayo is the old man of the group in 29 yr old Marko Jaric but is expected to be low in the rotation for playing time at the point. That's five players capable of playing the point out of an expected 13 roster players for Opening Night.

And people wonder how we never run out of topics to discuss over here.

The Players:

Mike Conley - Mike returns as the starting point guard on the team despite missing all or parts of 30+ games his rookie season due various injuries. In the 52 games Mike played in as a rookie he put up respectable numbers when compared to other point guards around the league's rookie numbers (Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Deron Williams to name a few). That isn't to say that Conley will match those players in the future. Rather that he has shown the potential to do so. Especially when you consider that he was as young or younger than any of the aforementioned players his rookie season. One major difference between Conley and the others has been his durability but he has looked much stronger this off-season than he did last season. That strength will be important if Conley plans on putting the injury reputation behind him.

Kyle Lowry - The former Wildcat has become a bulldog on the Grizzlies roster. Kyle lit the city on fire on opening night of his rookie campaign when he announced his presence with authority posting 6 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in leading the Grizzlies 2nd half charge. Suddenly Kyle Lowry was the most exciting rookie in franchise history (which is pretty impressive considering Shane Battier, Shareef Abdur Rahim and Pau Gasol had preceded him). Just as suddenly he was gone for the year after breaking his wrist in the 10th game of the season. His sophomore season was a struggle as he fought for playing time behind veteran Damon Stoudamire and rookie Mike Conley. Kyle's wild play energizes the team on the defensive end but his lack of control hurts the team on the offensive side of the ball. Still Kyle produced at a rate similar to Conley in nearly the same amount of time on the court and usually with inferior players around him. While his game seems best suited for a backup role right now Lowry's grit and determination means that no one is going to take the starting spot without a fight.

O.J. Mayo - O.J. Mayo looks to supplant Kyle Lowry as the most exciting rookie acquisition in franchise history this year. O.J. Mayo has been preparing himself almost since birth to be an NBA star and anything short of brilliance will disappoint his legion of supporters around the city. Mayo looked impressive at times in summer league and practising against the US Olympic team but he has also looked sloppy with the ball and unable to really explode past defenders. Mayo lacks the blinding speed of Conley and other PG's but he compensates that with a good passing ability and nice size for a PG. Mayo is also a workaholic who is in excellent physical condition. While no rookie can prepare himself for life as an NBA player, Mayo should suffer less than most because of his excellent physical condition. Mayo is already considered the best defensive player in the Grizzlies backcourt and quite possibly the best defender on the team which is a trait not often associated with a score first PG. For now at least the plan appears to be to play Mayo at the shooting guard position this season where his clutch long range shooting and defense are needed more but one can't ignore the possibility with a trade of Mayo taking over the point during his career.

Javaris Crittenton - When JCrit arrived from LA after the Gasol trade he felt a wave of relief. He was now going to get the chance he was denied at the Lakers. It hasn't worked out exactly that way so far. Instead of being behind Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar, more typical PG's for Phil Jackson's triangle offense, JCritt found himself behind Conley and Lowry who were equally quick and young but had the inside tract with the coaches. JCritt has been working hard this summer on some perceived weaknesses in his game including the outside shot and better court vision. Javaris wants to play the point in the NBA but right now the minutes just don't seem to be there. JCritt will need to show he can play the SG position as well if he wants anything more than token minutes this season. One strong point for JCritt is his defense which should hold him in good standing with new coach Kevin O'Neill and his preferred pressure style of play.

Marko Jaric - Finally we reach the one PG on the team that has actual NBA experience in playoff games. Wait a minute. You mean Jaric has played 6 seasons in the NBA and never made the playoffs??? How can that be? Well first off he hasn't played on many good teams but he also hasn't made bad teams better by his presence. One thing Marco definitely does have is a smooth long distance shot and excellent height for a PG at 6-7. What he doesn't have is a scorer's mentality as he has never reached 10 ppg over a season. It is unknown right now if a team with OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay not to mention Hakim Warrick, Marc Gasol and Antoine Walker really needs another player looking for his shot. Defensively Jaric is considered decent but not excellent. His 6-7 frame does cause problems for opponents trying to get a shot off over him and his 1.4 spg over his career means he is smart enough to get into passing lanes despite a noticeable lack of foot speed for a point guard.

Conclusion: Memphis has a problem that most NBA teams dream about in having too many young, talented Point Guards but that doesn't mean it is not a serious problem. How the Grizzlies can manage to find playing time for all 5 players will be a nasty juggling act for Marc Iavaroni. Heading into camp it appears that Conley has the inside position as the starter with Lowry backing him up. Mayo and Jaric are expected to split time at the two guard while JCritt floats back and forth but nothing is written in stone. Memphis is willing to discuss a move for any of the potential PG's but isn't interested in helping another team out by giving one of their players away for nothing.

Right now JCritt and Lowry look to be in a dead heat to be the first player moved while Mayo is the only player among the group entrenched on the roster. Conley should be safe unless he can't separate himself from Lowry this year. Jaric may be here a while because of his bloated contract but could be moved to bring in someone with a larger contract (maybe Zach Randolph for example). JCritt needs to find a place to get some minutes either here after someone else is moved or somewhere else for himself.

The Grizzlies are okay at the point this season and should be heading toward strong by next season. They just need times to find their legs and learn the game. Making a clear decision on who is going to be the starter and who's going to be first off the bench should help the players understand their roles and what they need to improve on going forward.

I can't believe I wrote about the point guards and didn't mention Adriana Lima one single solitary time!

That didn't count there at the end did it?

BallHype: hype it up!