What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Friday, May 3, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 8. Memphis Grizzlies

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th):  38-18 (second place, Southwest Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)

  • Points Scored: 93.3 (27th)
  • Points Allowed: 89.5 (1st)
  • Team FG%: .440 (22nd)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .441 (7th)
  • Team FT%: .782 (5th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .343 (23rd)
  • Rebounds per game: 42.9 (12th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 38.6 (1st)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.8 (14th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 16.1 (3rd)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)

  • Scoring (ppg): Zach Randolph (15.7)
  • Rebounds per game:   Zach Randolph (11.7)
  • Minutes per game:  Zach Randolph (35.3)
  • Assists per game: Mike Conley (6.0)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Marc Gasol (.479)
  • Free Throw Percentage:  Marc Gasol (.870)
  • Three Point FG Percentage:  Mike Conley (.366)
  • Steals per game:  Mike Conley (2.3)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Marc Gasol (1.6)

Worst Player of the Month: Tayshaun Prince

At last Tayshaun Prince has finally been freed from that sinking ship otherwise known as the Detroit Pistons and finds himself on one of the up and coming young teams in the Memphis Grizzlies.  Unfortunately for both him and his new team he has not given neither his teammates or fans much of a real impact upon his arrival. Since starting in place of the team's leading scorer Rudy Gay, who Memphis sent to the Toronto Raptors for next to nothing, Prince's impact on the offensive end has been less than effective averaging a shade under nine points per games in around 30 minutes of playing time.  He certainly has not made Memphis fans forget about Rudy Gay who despite having a poor shooting season, still led the team in scoring while grabbing at least seven to eight boards per game.   In fact, upon closer analysis of his play, it seems as if his best years are behind him as he has shown not to be the offensive and defensive spark when he played for the Detroit at the peakof the team's power.
First Player of the Month: Tony Allen 

At the start of the season Tony Allen struggled to find his shooting stroke, and looked as if he may be a locker room casualty; however as the season progressed, his production improved, especially on the offensive end as he become more comfortable as the season wore on.  He posted his best numbers in January and February averaging close to ten points and six boards per games while shooting .496 from the field.  In February alone Allen, not known for being a true offensive threat posted possibly the best numbers in his entire career as he averaged a season's best 11.0ppg while shooting an unconscious .557 from the field.  At the same time, Allen still remained the solid defensive stopper averaging close to two steals per game while posing an impressive effort on the boards for a shooting guard averaging close to six rebounds per game.  The Grizzlies will definitely want to see more of Tony Allen being more aggressive on the offensive end as they no longer have a go to scorer in Rudy Gay anymore.

At the start of the season, the Grizzlies looked as they would become a dominant force in the league as it came blasting out of the gates with the league's best league; however, as the months wore on, the Grizzlies have thus slipped from the top of the mountain and have struggled to gain a foothold in the West.  With the team slowly losing ground to the point to where it many not be able to even secure home court advantage in the playoffs let alone regain first place of their Division which had returned to the San Antonio Spurs once again.  To make matters worse, the Grizzlies were looking down the barrel of a financial powder keg as they would look forward to paying massive luxury tax penalties once the season came to a close thus starting the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Facing another season going nowhere and a mounting luxury tax, the Grizzlies were then forced to make some very difficult decisions that would affect not only the team's current performance, but its future prospects as well.  In fact, the impending luxury tax where teams would have to pay twice for every dollar over the cap forced the Grizzlies to take one sided deals in their desperate attempt to keep their costs down.

It started with a relatively low key deal where the Grizzlies quietly sent two up and coming young players in guard Wayne Ellington and center Mareese Speights to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a little used player name Jon Leuer.  The move was certainly one sided in the Cavs' favor as they reeived another couple of solid young talents to add to their already talented young nucleus while Memphis received what can be considered as a "garbage player" in return.  Nonetheless, the move saved the Grizzlies over 6$ million dollars cutting those two contracts from off their payroll; however, the salary slashing would not end from there.  In a move that showed more desperation than actual basketball sense, the Grizzlies parted ways with possibly the team's most talented player sending him out of the continental United States and would receive little if at all, nothing in terms of equal value in return.  In what can be considered as possibly the most surprising and biggest trade of the 2013 season, the Grizzlies sent their team's leading scorer for the past seven years, Rudy Gay, along with little used Iranian big man Hamed Haddadi to the Toronto Raptors and in return received the expiring contract of point guard Jose Calderon and a third year player in Ed Davis--an athletically raw big man who has yet to develop any fundamental skills in his short NBA tenure.

This move sent shock waves throughout the league as it turned all eyes upon the Toronto Raptors--a team that since it's inceptions, has struggled to attain any sort of respect or attention in the NBA.  At the same time made some analysts frown upon the Grizzlies for giving up such a talented player for so little in return and at the same time ruining any chance of them having any shot of contending for an NBA title.  Some may have reservations calling Rudy Gay the Grizzlies best player as he has yet to make an All Star game despite being signed to most lucrative deal on the team; however, in terms of his abilities and skill sets on both offensive and defensive ends of the floor, he was by for not only the team's best players, but the team's most important player as well.  Gay's ability to attack the basket and his strong proficiency from the perimeter helped the Grizzlies spread the court giving more room from Memphis beefy duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to work down low.  Now with Gay gone, the Grizz do not have that perimeter threat to keep opposing defenses honest as no one else on that team can provide the offensive firepower to match that of Gay's.

In a move to shore up the impact of Gay's absence, in the same deal that sent Rudy Gay past the 48 degree parallel, the Grizzlies took the expiring contract of Jose Calderon and used it to offset the loss of Gay by sending him to the Detroit Pistons for veteran Tayshaun Prince and a young prospect in Austin Daye.  Many applauded this move as it gave the Grizzlies a veteran player in Prince who has already won an NBA title and was crucial piece in the Pistons glory years that saw that reaching the NBA Finals twice in a row.  Prince earned a reputation as being a clutch performer who was unafraid to take the big game shots when necessary while at the same time was quite adept as using his height and length on the defensive end as well.  And although he has not gotten much in terms of playing time, many saw Austin Daye as the dark horse sleeper in this deal--a silky smooth 6'11 swing man with the same abilities as Prince, but far younger.  Unfortunately, neither player has had the impact that Grizzlies fans have anticipated as Prince's offensive output has not brought fear in the hearts of his opponents and Daye's impact has been limited at best.

Although it may not seem that the Grizzlies have missed Gay on the roster as they have continued to win without him, the impact of his absence will most likely be felt come playoff time where his skill set and his ability to spread the defense will be sorely missed.  Without him, opposing defenses will simply converge down low to clog the paint as they have little or not respect for the Grizzlies'  perimeter game.  At 33 years old, Tayshaun can no longer be counted on to be that impact player that he was in Detroit while Ed Davis, despite providing a solid backup for whenever Randolph or Gasol heads to the bench, will probably be any more better than what he is right now.  It is just too bad that the Grizzlies were forced to make such terrible roster decisions in a desperate to stay below the luxury tax threshold as it will certain hurt their prospects in the future.  On the flip side, however, with the way that their season was regressing into, Memphis probably figured that they had nothing to lose as their championship aspirations were fading with each and every game making their move seem as a no brainer at the same time.