Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In The Paint

This season is going to be decided by the teams who sign the most underrated players for the least amount of money. Not the players who signed those big contracta for millions of dollars and big shoe deals. It will be the Tracy McGradys and Mareese Speights who make the difference in the winners and losers this year. Look at the Portland Trailblazers and big Kurt Thomas. Even though these players are in their twilight years or on  the brink of  effectiveness. They don't have huge contracts.

Injuries won't allow the Grizzlies  to keep last years team in tact. If we ever get everybody healthy we'll be hard to beat. In the meantime the role players have to come through. We need  to keep O.J. Mayo, even if  we have to do some juggling. Shane Battier is doing alright for himself elsewhere. Playing for the Miami Heat for  $3M  is a sweet deal for a mid level player. . Rudy Vasquez was a regrettable loss. But Jeremy Pargo was a steal for the minimum. Hamed Haddidi and Sam Young didn't break the bank. I am most excited about the acquisition of Mareese Speight. He is like a Marc Gasol  who plays in the paint.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Grizzlies count on Tony Allen's determined defense. But coach Lionel Hollins knows that the guard's offense -- 11 points per game -- are part of the winning mix.
The record is now four games above .500 under the circumstances.

The Grizzlies improved to 15-11 in games without power forward Zach Randolph after their latest victory -- a 105-100 win Wednesday night at New Jersey. And it's becoming more of a useless statistic with every passing day.

Memphis earned a playoff spot and made a historic run last season without Rudy Gay. Now, Griz coach Lionel Hollins has appreciated a similar, collective effort that's kept his squad competitive without Randolph.

Sure, the Griz need Randolph as much as they required Gay's skill set. But their separate absences underscore how the Griz built a team not heavily reliant upon one or two star players.

"It's taken for granted because the league is about marketing the stars," Hollins said. "The everyday, hard-hat player doesn't get a lot of publicity. You have to come out and get 30 points and dunk over everybody and catch alley-oops. The league markets that, and they market the brand names. But the reality is the league has always been about team and the dirt workers."

Memphis' opponent tonight -- the Denver Nuggets -- provides another example of what true teams look like in the NBA. The Nuggets traded All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony last season and no longer employ Chauncey Billups. Yet the Nuggets own a better record than Anthony has with the Knicks since the divorce.

Hollins and Denver coach George Karl have pulled their respective teams in the same direction. Karl's Nuggets stunned observers by remaining highly competitive in a difficult Western Conference last season.

Denver got off to a fast start this year with Danilo Gallinari as its leading scorer and a 10-man rotation that includes bench players who could start elsewhere. The Nuggets are holding on to the seventh playoff slot, and rank as the league's second-highest scoring team (103.4 ppg) without Anthony's firepower.
cont:

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cont:

"When you look at teams that play hard and play together and leave it out there every night," Hollins said, "there are people that say 'How could they win? They don't have as much talent as that (other) team.' But it's not just talent that wins."

Memphis remains in the playoff hunt -- hovering around the eighth and final slot -- in large part due to a different player stepping up on any given night. Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol have been the most consistent starters on offense. Defensive stalwarts Mike Conley and Tony Allen have increased their offensive productivity when necessary.

There have been nights, too, when O.J. Mayo has exploded with points off the bench. At New Jersey, starting power forward Marreese Speights did his best Randolph impersonation by amassing 20 points and 18 rebounds.

"It takes a collective effort every night," Hollins said. "You just can't have two guys go out and score every night. If that was the case then the (New York) Knicks wouldn't have been losing five or six in a row with Amare (Stoudemire) and Carmelo and win six in a row without them."

LeBron James' free-agent departure from Cleveland to Miami two years ago showed just how much a franchise's reliance on one superstar could be crippling. Without James, Cleveland is back to rebuilding as an irrelevant, noncontending team.

"There are a lot of factors (that go) into winning," Hollins said. "You have to have guys who can score for sure. But you have to play defense, you have to rebound, you have to share the ball, you have to screen, you have to dive on the floor for loose balls, you have to take charges. The game is about a lot of things other than just points.

"You can see a lot of high-scoring teams that aren't winning and you wonder 'Why?' Or you see very talented teams that don't win and you ask the question 'Why?' It comes down to this: Are they organized as a group and do they play for each other? There's a difference from just playing and playing to win. It's a subtle one."

9:11 PM  
Blogger Common said...

I was right about the players, just wrong about the team. At least the one I was hoping for.

Atlanta is getting help from Tracy McGrady. Oklahoma has Derek Fischer and the clippers have gotten big numbers from Reggie Evans and Eric Bledsoe.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Common said...

In hindsight we probably should have kept Shane Battier and traded O.J. Mayo. Battier has produced in the playoffs and he was cheaper.

That's what happens when you choose flash over fundamentals. At the most inopurune time it doesn't show up.

7:52 PM  
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