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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!