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Too early to evaluate Memphis?

Posted By Jacob Wells On Nov 18 2010 @ 2:07 pm In Memphis Grizzlies | No Comments

So the Grizzlies are 4-8 and go on the road to face the Wizards on Friday night.  What can we say about how the season has gone so far?  Let’s take a look:

Playing to the level of the competition.  The Grizzlies seem to play their best games against the best teams, see the Boston game or the Phoenix game, but then resort to poor basketball against what, on paper, seems to be inferior competition.  Obviously this style of play is not going to get Memphis into the playoffs.  Likely it would deny them even 40 wins, a number they hope to eclipse this season, their 10th in the city.

This is an easy thing for a fan to notice and very difficult for a player to notice.  An athlete gets into the mindset that the competition is as good as they are, or is having a great night.  It’s an idea that invades their skills like a plague.  Settling for jumpers, playing lazy defense (relying too much on help), not running the fast breaks, not making the extra pass.  Sometimes these are just some of the deficiencies in a selfish player, but in the case of the Grizzlies, this happens almost nightly.  The only player immune seems to be Zach Randolph.  He been the only consistent player for Memphis, grabbing a double-double in half of the team’s games so far.  Marc Gasol has a foot injury that is clearly holding him back.  He looked good against Shaq, but the frustration on his face let’s you know something is wrong.

The coaching staff needs to be able to see when their team starts to drift into complacency and shake things up.  To head coach Lionel Hollins’ credit he has tried to insert different players into the lineup.  The recent increase in minutes for rookie Greivis Vasquez is a testament to that.  Vasquez has been able to make the most of his opportunities when they come, too.  Since his electrifying seven-point break-out game he has struggled, going 2-11 from the floor including 0-6 from three.  Because of his intensity and unwillingness to be outplayed, however, he has gotten more minutes each night.  He played 17 minutes in the loss against Portland Tuesday night and finished with five points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and two turnovers.  Not bad for a rookie playing significant minutes for only the third game of his career.  John Wall he is not, but it’s a good sign for Grizzlies fans that Mike Conley can sit on the bench for a little while each night.  Not to mention Vasquez’s playing time only steals from Acie Law’s playing time and that is never a bad thing.

Now that I have spewed out all my frustration I realize that I put two things in the same category: playing to the level of the competition and bench play.  Both are areas that the Grizzlies have been lacking and must improve quickly.  I think rotating bench players in for 10-12 minutes per game can’t hurt much right now.  The starters have already logged in quite a few and it’s time to see what these guys can do.  They have all been on the team for a while now and I think everyone wants to see why.  Darrell Arthur is great and Tony Allen is growing on me, but I want to see Hamed Haddadi play.  What about Sam Young?  He looked great last year.  I think I’ve seen enough of DeMarre Carroll, though.

It is still early in the season, but these things can stick around for a long time.  Hopefully not long enough for the Grizzlies to feel they need to blow up the roster just to make the playoffs.  I like the roster, at least I think I do, but that tends to happen when a team keeps the same players around for awhile.  We’ll see what happens Friday.  The Wizards should be a good Litmus test for the Grizzlies.

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