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Jan 24, 2014

Long Needed Update for 2014

RECAP

Sorry I have been really bad about following and posting about Grizzlies this season. It just happens sometimes where life gets busy and other hobbies take priority. I also don't have a lot to say when things are going well. Ok, this season has had its ups and downs. In particular, the team has struggled to find its way with a new identity that is more uptempo and scoring oriented than in the past. Also without Marc Gasol in the lineup, this team isn't the elite contender that anyone would expect to come out of our division. Thus, our record is a combined 0-10 so far against our peers in the southwest division (Dallas, Spurs, Rockets, Pelicans). Let's hope we can correct that starting tonight in a back-to-back against Houston the Rocket.

COURTNEY LEE

First of all, I am a huge fan of Courtney Lee so far. I watch almost every Celtics game since I live in the local market. I knew he was playing efficiently with a small number of minutes in Boston, but I had no idea he would bloom this way in Memphis. This shows what the human spirit is capable of achieving when someone believes in you.

POINT GUARD SITUATION

Next I want to comment on a subject that has been bothering me. I hear a lot of rumor talk about the need for a backup point guard on the Memphis Grizzlies, especially with the departure of Jerryd Bayless. Since I never considered him an option for the position I don't see how this is suddenly relevant at this time. This is especially true considering that we have a decorated veteran prototypical point guard just waiting to earn his minutes in Nick Calathes. I decided to conduct my own study.

My little study is very simple. I sorted the NBA teams by winning percentage obviously to get a glimpse of the best record teams in order, and then compared this with the average number of assists of the TOP2 assist leaders on each team. Regardless of what position they play, if teams are getting assists and it correlates to win percentage, then it would be obvious that the Grizzlies would benefit from having a better assist man on the team. Here are the results of this study in these charts:

Memphis currently on this date is sitting right at a 0.500 win percentage (20 wins, 20 losses). So they are still on the outside looking in. If you notice on the assist chart we are sitting right at the bottom of a dip in the assists totals. The Grizzlies fall outside of 1.126 standard deviations of the rest of the league. This puts us in the bottom 26% of the league. Despite my gut-feeling that we are fine with our number of assists from our leading players, it appears that we are well below the league norm.

The million dollar question (I mean that quite literally) now for the franchise is whether increasing that statistic would lead to an improved record, and all the ancillary benefits that entitles a team to. The fact remains that the number of assists DOES NOT correlate to the win percentage. The correlation coefficient between the datasets is 0.372, which is pretty weak. Note: the close to 1.0, the "better" the correlation; the closer to zero, the "worse". The data supports this interpretation. Even Indiana, with the league best record, has the 3rd worst assist total behind only Milwaukee and Boston. Plus, there are other ways to increase your team assist numbers than by simply having a talented backup point guard. Some of the teams second-in-command assist leaders include Portland's Nick Batum, Spurs' Manu Ginobli, and the Clippers' Blake Griffin. These certainly are not point guards! But they find a way to get the job done. An example of a stat that would likely exhibit a near perfect correlation to win percentage would be assist-to-turnover ratio. Sheer number of assists doesn't lead to wins... That's kind of a head scratcher but it shows there are other ways to get the job done which include rebounding, winning the points in the paint, free throw disparity, fast break conversions, etc.

Whether the Grizzlies get a back up point guard or not is not the issue for me. If they were to make a move the primary emphasis in my opinion is getting high-caliber, dynamic players such as Courtney Lee or an O.J. Mayo.

Go Grizz!

Nov 7, 2013

Week 1 2013-2014: What's Going on?

The Grizzlies find themselves winless against Southwest Division opponents and with a losing record after 1 week of action. Their preseason was unspectacular but for a playoff team or contender this hardly is an area of concern. Starting out slowly for a veteran team isn't much to fuss over either, but the quality of the opponents and the manner in which they've been losing has many starting to question whether this team can go the distance under the new leadership of Assistant Coach Dave Joerger, promoted to relieve Lionell Hollins of head coaching duties over the offseason.

First I present my anecdotal evidence, then I will look at the stats to see if anything jumps out.

  1. Off the bat you can see the Grizzlies are struggling with the new uptempo offense. This was thought to unleash their scoring potential in response to their "stuck in the mud" offense that had them go OH AND FOUR in the Western Conference Finals, just a couple months ago. The number of turnovers and the numerous 100 point onslaughts sufferred at their opponents so far in the first 5 games is testament to the failure of this new system. Can the ship be righted? Absolutely! But one would think returning their focus to their league-leading defense (3 players in the all-defensive teams last season) should be at the crux of their return to glory. I think a few people on the bench and starters are most responsible for these declines in running the uptempo offense and failing to defend properly.

    First culprit is Mike Conley. I will explain his issues through stats in the next section. The other factors are that we're not feeding the post and thus ZBO/Gasol are not dominating any games so far. This team won't get out of the bottom of the league without them: they are our bread and butter. The last factor is the decline in the bench and the absence of what we termed last year, THE ZOO CREW. This year's bench has new faces that aren't pulling their weight (Miller / Calathes), and guys from last year that were on the rise and instead have declined (Qpon / Ed Davis). Jerryd Bayless has shown promise, single-handedly defeating the Celtics the other night, but his role with the team has taken a turn for the worst again as he is still being thrown back and forth between SG and PG. What's so bad about seeing this as a long time Grizzlies fan is that we've seen this story before with O.J. Mayo. That ended in an ugly divorce!

  2. Now the stats. Mike Conley has decent numbers if you look at this pts, rebounds, assist, turnovers. But check his plus minus. -5.2 : that is your margin of loss right there. That equals "defeat" on most nights. I don't know how to fully describe it but Conley just doesn't look fluid out there running in my opinion and the plays are not generating enough points. And on the defense side he's getting torched. Dallas, Detroit, NOLA, and San Antonio all torched him. Compare that to Tony Allen's +1.5 per game. Tony is shooting over 50 from the field and 42% from 3... maybe he needs more minutes? Who is taking his minutes? Jerryd Bayless. He's got a decent +2.0 on the court, however his shooting percentages are at 38%. Thats' well below team average...

    ZBO. Decent percentage of points. Decent rebounding, but significantly lower than his usual numbers. and a frightening -3.2 plus minus...

    Tayshaun Prince is hanging tough while Marc Gasol is tanking with a -6.0. This is rotten.

    Time for the worst Grizzlies player of the week award: Quincy Pondexter. The man is only hitting 3 out of 10 shots at 31% and giving up a -10.0 plus minus to the competition. No wonder his minutes are down.

Like I said, it's very early, and these problems are solvable. But can this personnel weather the storm and make the right moves to achieve success? The challenges are significant, but that's what makes it fun to watch!

  • Go Grizz!
  • Sep 25, 2013

    Number One Franchise in Sports: Grizzlies!?!

  • Grizzlies No. 1 ESPN Survey - based on a poll ranking categories such as stadium experience, trust in ownership, bang for your buck, and title expectations - the Grizz came out on top for 2013!

    Baby, we've come a long way! Once described by Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson as "Dresden after the war", Memphis is now the jewel of the Nile, or Mississippi.

    To me it only makes sense. The city believes. The people have passion and it's grown organically from the Gasols to the ZBOs and everyone in between. "We in the mud." It just kind of sticks and is "hip" enough to reverberate between street culture, corporate brass, and civic pride.

    You always have felt like the Grizzlies were going places. They'd always be under the radar but at some point we had to catch a break despite the 2003 draft/lottery, Stroshow and Thabeet, Allen Iverson backfire, and the departure of Jerry West. I would have never put us all the way up at "NUMBER ONE" but all things considered, damn it feels good to be a Grizzly! (now I just need to make a youtube video with the Gheto Boys song to Grizz highlights...)

    Go Grizz!
  • Jul 25, 2013

    RELOADED!

  • Bleacher report - Getting Nostalgic about Miller's First Stint with Memphis Grizzlies

    MIKE MILLER #33

    The Grizzlies 6th Man Award Winner is back! The two back-to-back titles don't hurt either. As a full-time Grizzlies fan and part-time Celtics fan, living up here in New England, it really hurt me to watch Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and Miller in the 2013 Finals this year. I feel like Battier could have stayed here and helped us over the top. Ray Allen left Boston for the team that just narrowly beat them the previous season for their first title and then helps push them back for a second. That's ice cold, man. No love for nobody but himself. Miller however has been a journeyman since he left Memphis in the trade to Minnesota with draft rights of Kevin Love for the draft rights of O.J. Mayo and a bunch of other bad expiring contracts.

    In other words, I kinda forgive Miller because after all he is best friends with Udonis Haslem and has strong ties to south Florida. Battier and Allen are just plain sell outs. Allen's ties were to New England and Connecticut. Battier is from Detroit and Duke. Just went for the path of least resistance along with the Chosen One.

    Miller has a great reputation in Memphis, so expect a warm homecoming for the back court bomber. His charity work with St. Jude is unbelievable. His shooting is among the league's best, which could help the Grizzlies find a new identity as a defensive stalwart with an explosive offense. Looking at his raw stats last year, he really was about the same as Ray Allen. Think how valuable a player like that is on offense. Also consider Miller shot from downtown with better success than Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Klay Thompson, and O.J. Mayo. All those guys had great shooting seasons. He's elite.

    Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images Mike Miller launches one of his franchise-record nine 3-pointers in Memphis' 144-135 regulation win over the Warriors. Farewell, grind-it-out Grizzlies of the departed Mike Fratello. Hello, Tony Barone's gunners.
    - ESPN

    The Other Guys

    Kosta Koufos - OK initially I didn't like this player at all. I assumed they drafted him just because he came from the same school as Greg Oden because I didn't see any talent in him ever. He seems to have developed good rebounding skills in Denver recently and has the ability to hit putbacks and not turnover the ball too often. I still don't really see him as much more than another Jake Tsakilidis, but let's just hope for the best. I'm over my anger at the trade of Darrell Arthur and now just want to see him succeed - although it will take me a while to get used to seeing him in a Grizzlies uniform this season.

    Nick Calathes - Here is another Greek-American. I wonder if Robert Pera has some kind of Greek ties or is it Levien? Who knows. Well if you're like most people you dont' remember this guy since he played an outstanding Freshman season at Univerity of Florida during their descent back to mediocrity. Yes after all those studs left in 2007 after winning back-to-back championships, the Gators didn't have much left but this guy. He disappeared in Europe for the last couple years but he's come back out as a champion there. Now everyone is comparing him to the Bob Cousy award winner that we all hate to have lost here in Memphis, Greveis Vasquez. They do have a similar size and position. If we can get the results of 2012 Vasquez out of him then management will look like genius in this pickup. Expect him to still have to carry Miller's bags as the upper classman.

    Jamaal Franklin - Dleague fodder. I don't know if he'll get more than Tony Wroten minutes this year unless they blow this up by trading ZBO or Prince.

    Josh Akognon - I honestly have never heard of this guy before today. He joins other fellow Nigerian American players, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu. His numbers are off the chart but such a small sample size in NBA... Who knows? Training Camp is going to be fun this year!

    Go Grizz!
  • Jun 12, 2013

    Off to the Offseason

    This blog hasn't been getting nearly as much attention as this year's playoffs have deserved. I suppose I haven't had a lot to pontificate on when things are going swimmingly. The sweep in the Spurs series just left me in a state of stasis. The games were so close, including 2 overtime games, you can't really say the Grizzlies just didn't show up, but losing four in a row is a pretty sound beating. Being there for game3 of the WCF in person, by pure luck, since I bought my plane ticket months in advance, not even knowing if the Grizzlies would make it out of round 1 again... Yeah it was a huge disappointment to me to come that far only to see them lose again. So I haven't felt like posting on the blog lately.

    That'll all change once we turn to the offseason moves and we can nitpick every decision and ponder the realm of possibilities. First off, the head coaching vacancy left by Lionel Hollins. Great article on the Memphis Flyer covers it:

  • Coach Hollins Situation.

    The Grizzlies will get it going again next season because tough times don't last, and tough bears do. Stay cool out there this summer!

    Go Grizz!
  • May 19, 2013

    THEN and NOW

    2011 Spurs vs Grizzlies :: Round 1 Playoff Match

    2013 Spurs vs Grizzlies :: Western Converence FINALS

    Bonus Video :: WHOOP DAT TRICK

    Go Grizz!

    May 16, 2013

    Gonna Fly Now

    This was the highlight of the season up til this point, which underscores the fact that today is the high point of the Memphis Grizzlies franchise.







    Go Grizz!