Sports 56 WHBlog Q

October 28, 2008

Will and Peter Have a Conversation About the Upcoming Grizzlies Season

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Peter Edmiston @ 12:26 pm

Peter: The NBA begins tonight!  It’s FAN-tastic!  Read to achieve!  I love this game!  And so on…anyway, while the league itself gets underway tonight, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to experience the majesty of the 2008-09 Memphis Grizzlies.

Will: Majesty is not quite the word I was thinking of.

P: Tragedy?

W: Something like that.  But at least this team has light at the end of an extremely long tunnel.

P: That is true, and we need to keep that in mind as we watch them suck this year.  And make no mistake about it, they will not be very good at all this year.  I’m struggling to come up with more than two teams that are worse than the Grizzlies.

W: I can only think of one – the Thunder.

P: Aren’t they in the WNBA?

W: No, but Robert Swift looks like he could become the first crossover player in (W)NBA history.

P: I am actually scared right now.  To get that horrifying image out of my mind, I’m going to pose a question to you.  What do we expect the Grizzlies to do well this season?

W: Not much, but they should be able to run.  With Conley, Gay, and Mayo, their fast break should be strong.

P: I don’t think they can score any other way with any consistency.  Judging by the preseason, the halfcourt game is not going to be kind to them at all.  No one can really shoot that well.

W: They have no inside game to speak of, no one to draw a double-team, and no offense off the bench.

P: If they start with Darko at the 4, Hakim Warrick can bring you some offense off the bench.  But I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Warrick or Darrell Arthur move into the starting lineup before too long.

W: I have a hard time believing that Darko/Gasol at the 4/5 is going to work, although to start a fast break, you need someone to get a rebound and throw an outlet pass, and I guess having two 7-footers is a good way to do that.

P: Speaking of which, I have to say I’ve been impressed with Marc Gasol’s ability to pass in the halfcourt game.  He reminds me of Pau in that regard.  He can rebound, he’s reasonably tough, he’s hard-working, he can score a little bit – but his foot speed is glacial.  Empires have been created and destroyed in the time it takes him to move laterally.

W: I do like his toughness; he is much more physical than Pau ever was. It does seem as though Darko has lost some weight and is more mobile than he was last year.  If he’s going to play at the 4, he needs to look more like the guy who came into the league in 2003 rather than the guy the Grizzlies signed in 2007.

P: Darko seems like a good guy, but I just think he’s a bit of a lost cause at this point.  Ultimately, he could be a solid backup 5, but his crushing lack of confidence and inconsistency means he cannot be counted on in any significant way.

W: I think having Marko Jaric on the team will help him, but I would have to agree that it’s hard to count on him at this point.

P: What do you expect from O. J. Mayo?

W: I expect that some nights he’ll drop 30 points, and other nights he’ll struggle from the field.  I don’t expect great shot selection and I think it’s going to be hard on him that he’s going to be counted on as the second scorer for the team.

P: He’s a volume shooter.  He will put up a lot of jump shots because it’s easy for him to get them.  He has got to – and I cannot emphasize this enough – get to the foul line.  He has to try to penetrate far, far more than he has shown in the preseason.  He needs to be Peter North out there.

W: How long is Iavaroni’s leash?  How long will it take for him to get fired if the team starts struggling?

P: IF they start struggling?  Don’t you mean when?

W: Yes.  And who will take over if he is fired – Kevin O’Neill or Johnny Davis?

P: I think his leash is longer than you seem to think.  There’s no doubt the team will struggle mightily this season.  They’ve got a starting lineup consisting of a 20 year old, a 19 year old, a 22 year old, a 23 year old, and a 23 year old.  That’s a recipe for mistakes and struggles.  Heisley allowed him to stay, and has implemented the three-year plan for success.  Firing Iavaroni after this season (or during) would be counterproductive unless the team just quits on him.

W: I expect if the team has a terrible record through 10-15 games, he will be gone.

P: Define terrible record.

W: 2-8 through 10.  If they are that bad, he’s out.

P: Look at their early schedule…6 of the first 8 on the road, 4 out West, 2 games each against San Antonio and Utah before November is over.  They are going to have an awful record through the first 20 games at least. By my estimation, you are basically predicting Iavaroni to be out by 2009.

W: That is correct.  I expect O’Neill to be the coach by 2009.

P: CONTROVERSY!

W: Because Heisley loves Kevin O’Neill, this much we know.

P: Just a couple more things to go over…how good do you expect Mike Conley to be this year and beyond?

W: (sighs) Sometimes he reminds me of Tony Parker, but sometimes I think he’s way too short to be as good as Tony Parker is. He’ll be a solid point guard, but people who think he’ll be a star are kidding themselves.

P: I like the fact that he’s added 8 pounds of muscle; his slight build was a concern to me.  I still don’t think he’s going to be a star, but he will be a solid contributor.  12 pts, 6 assts, 1.5 stls, something like that.

W: OK, last thing, how many wins do you think they’ll end up with?

P: I think they have a decent chance to be historically bad.  They will not win 20 games.  I’m thinking something like 15 or so…they’ve got no real rebounding, no real shooting.  It’s going to be tough.

W: I think they’ll end up with about the same as last year – 22, 23, something like that.  They will be in contention for that coveted number one pick.

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