Tag:Zach Randolph
Posted on: December 31, 2010 4:19 am
Edited on: December 31, 2010 4:28 am
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A very Rudy New Year

Rudy Gay is quietly having the kind of season you want your emerging star to have, breaking out not in any one area, but improving in every facet of the game. 
Posted by Matt Moore




It's almost a new year, so perhaps it's time to inform you in case you haven't heard. It's also a new Rudy Gay. 

After signing his five-year, $80 million extension with the Memphis Grizzlies this summer, most wondered if Gay was in any way worth that kind of investment. How could he be? From every measurable standard, he was below star-level. Points, rebounds, efficiency, wins, playoff appearances, the works. Though the Grizzlies showed signs of life last season, they faded down the stretch. Would Gay really improve in the necessary ways to justify that contract and the Grizzlies' future investment in him?

Turns out, he's on his way. And where he is now and where he's headed is a long way from where he started, in Baltimore, Maryland. 

*


It's Christmas time in Memphis, and for once, it feels like it. There's a significant chill in the air on Christmas Eve as the Grizzlies wrap up practice at FedEx Forum. Later it will snow through the night, though of course the warm Tennessee ground won't hold anything but the slightest layer of white. Still, it's got to make the Grizzlies from colder climates even more homesick at Christmas.  They've got a game the night after Christmas in Indiana, their flight departing Christmas Day, so there's no time to get to their respective homes. They'll spend Christmas in Memphis, before hopping on a plane for a hotel as they try and get off their losing streak.

For Gay, missing Christmas is just part of the job. He says that with video chat and all the technology, it's almost like being there. And "there" means quite a bit to him.  Baltimore is notorious in the NBA for two things: being tough and producing ball players. Players talk about Baltimore carefully, trying to manage how tough the environment is with their pride of the system they came out of. For Gay, he has a clear feeling of solidarity with the many players that come out of Charm City.

"The best feeling about being in the NBA is going back to Baltimore," Gay says. "It's a basketball city. There are so many guys that come out of there and try and get to this level. For those of us who do, we're thankful, and we try and stick together."

Part of the tradition of basketball in Baltimore is the AAU Teams.  The AAU circuit in Baltimore is as strong as it is anywhere in the country, and its products have filled the NBA ranks.  The teams also come under scrutiny, as was the case in fellow Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony's Team Melo personnel's involvement with Josh Selby. For Gay, though, AAU was nothing but a positive experience, and he credits the AAU programs in Baltimore for helping kids there stay out of trouble. 

As practice wraps up, the Grizzlies huddle up and chant "1-2-3-Merry-Christmas" before heading for the exits and their respective holiday plans. A few elect to hang out on the sidelines. But Gay and Mike Conley, the player for Memphis who Gay has played the longest with, remain on the floor, shooting and working, getting in extra time. The Grizzlies need it. They've lost three in a row, including an inexcusable loss to the Nets. If ever there was a time for Gay to exert the leadership he's learned as he continues his fifth year in Memphis, now would be it. 

It's not that the Grizzlies have been terrible this season. On Christmas Eve, they're only a game back of where they were last year. But last year they depended on a long winning streak after a terrible opening to recover and make it into the playoff picture before fading late. This year they've toppled the Lakers, the Suns, and the Mavericks, but have also lost to the Nets, the Warriors and the Wizards. It's that kind of inconsistency and playing up or down to their opponent that Gay says is the key to Memphis getting back on track. 
"We're just learning how to play consistently every night. We can't play good against good teams and bad against bad teams. I just want to get this team to that level. I can feel it. We're close."

*


Two nights later in Indiana, they certainly look it. The Grizzlies dominate on both sides of the floor and walk out of Indiana with a 104-90 victory. Merry Christmas, indeed. Gay sets the tone with his best performance of the season, one of the best of his career, with 30 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. The vaunted "stat-stuffer" line. The 30 points is nice, but it's been the total efficiency and productivity where Gay has made strides this season. Sunday night's win is just the jewel in the crown of his improvement in 2010. 

RG is posting career-highs in points, assists, and steals per game, as well as in advanced numbers like assist, steals, and block percentages, and eFG% (percentage factoring 3-point shooting). In essence, he's a more efficient player than he ever has been. His PER is a career high 18.8. You get the feeling that his near-career-high rebound rate (8.9%) would improve if he needed to, but with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low, Gay's priorities are in contributing at every level, "in every column" as his coach says. And it's that total effort that Lionel Hollins says best describes Gay's role. 

"He needs to utilize his talent, and fill the stat sheet like he has. Some nights it will be scoring, some nights it won't. Those other stat columns have to be filled regardless of whether he goes 11-17 or 6-17. I think when he gets to the level where he has an impact on the game even when he's not scoring a lot, that's his role. When you're talented like that, players can think that the fans and media expect them to score a lot of points. But the best player doesn't always score the most points."

Hollins says Gay is also a key for the defense. RG has posted his lowest defensive rating of his career with a 105 score. Far from elite, but a huge step in the right direction.

"When he's engaged, our whole team is engaged," Hollins says.
*
It's Monday night, and time for a dreaded back-to-back, this time against the Toronto Raptors, an up and down team which is missing several key players. Before the game, Gay has that leader swagger going again. He pumps up the music, dances, and raps, but also goes around the room talking to several of the younger players, providing instruction. It's reminiscent of the behavior of another talented stat-stuffing power forward, LeBron James, in pre-game activities. It will not be the last time Gay looks the part of a King-James-type that evening. 

One player that Gay gives extra attention to his rookie point guard Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez attended high school in Maryland and proceeded to attend college at Maryland as well. Gay and Vasquez have what the rookie describes as a "real relationship." Team officials refer to them as "close as any players on the team" and Vasquez credits Gay with taking him under his wing and helping him transition through the rookie process. 

Gay does not talk pre-game, but where's the same quiet, confident look he always seems to adorn as he heads for the floor and yet another moderately-attended game in Memphis. 
*
The Raptors are up eight as the second period begins. The Grizzlies look lifeless. The Raps are starting Amir Johnson and Joey Dorsey in the front court due to injuries, and yet they are the team slowing it down and grinding it out in the halfcourt set. Linas Kleiza is giving Gay fits as he rises over him to fire long jumpers. But in the second quarter, something clicks. 

RG's biggest asset? Detonation into transition. And instead of looking for it off the work of his teammates, Gay is again initiating those opportunities. He bursts out to initiate the break, forces the issue, and the offense is off and running towards a 32-point quarter after only scoring 16 in the opening set. The Raptors manage to hang in until the third, when the Grizzlies get Zach Randolph, who is battling with a cold, back on track. He takes over down low, and Gay snags two steals using that athleticism people have raved about since his days at UCONN. He uses it in conjunction with a learned anticipation, the kind of mental improvement that's made such a difference in his game. 

By the time the fourth rolls around, it's all over but the shouting. 

With Hollins completely reversing his game plan, going small instead of big, an unforeseen development reveals itself.  A lineup hits the floor of Darrell Arthur, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo, and Rudy Gay. Gay plays point guard, initiating the offense and acting as the conduit for O.J. Mayo to break open for some buckets. It's a brief indulgence, but one that Gay says they've been working on in practice. 

"Most people who play my position aren't used to guarding a guy running point. It creates mismatches. I enjoy being in that position."

Randolph will get the headlines for taking over in the second half, but it will be Gay who ties his career high for combined assists and steals. He finishes with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals and 1 block. It's consistent, across the board, and the real foundation for the Grizzlies success. I ask Gay if he thinks the team has turned a corner. 
"I do. We learned something from the Nets loss, but these wins are starting to feel different." 
Much like Gay's season, which is starting to look every bit the part of what the Grizzlies paid for. 

*


Two nights later the Grizzlies will drop a heartbreaker in Sacramento, losing on a desperation half-court heave by Tyreke Evans. Gay will struggle with 6-17 shooting, just 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. The Grizzlies for a night have gone back to playing down to their competition. But Gay's body of work has already shown itself. 

It's a new year, and while the Grizzlies' future this year and beyond seems very uncertain, every indication is that Gay has reached that next step. Gay says he's ready, able, and willing to be the star player on a playoff team.

"I always want to be on that stage. I love that stage.  My career has shown that I love to be the type of player that's depended on, and I'm going to continue to do that. "


Posted on: December 29, 2010 5:32 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:53 pm
 

LeBron James offends Harris with contraction talk

Miami Heat forward LeBron James made comments concerning contraction and New Jersey Nets point guard Devin Harris, and Harris is reportedlydevin-harris"offended." Posted by Ben Golliver Last week, Miami Heat forward LeBron James really stepped in it, advocating for the contraction of NBA teams to achieve a league that more closely resembled the NBA of the 1980s. Clearly, he was misguided. Shortly after making his comments, James tried to back off, but the damage was done. As you might recall, James singled out the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey Nets in his comments, saying, "I’m just looking at some of the teams that are not that great. You take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off teams that are not that good right now and add them to a team that could be really good. I’m not saying let’s take New Jersey, let’s take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid. I’m not stupid, but I know what would be great for the league.” Harris, to no one's great surprise, wasn't particularly thrilled about the nature of the comments and the specific mention of the Nets and himself in James' argument for contracting the league. Indeed, NJ.com reports that Harris was "offended" by James' comments.
“For him to talk about us specifically was a little offensive,’’ Harris said after practice, and before the Nets left for Oklahoma City for tonight’s game against the Thunder. “I mean, from a business standpoint ... what’s best, we’re still trying to figure this out. But (James is) in the mind-set of, ‘Let’s just team everybody up with stars and kind of duke it out,’ which, it kind of was like that in previous ages, but who’s to say what’s best for the league.’’
Kudos to Harris for accomplishing a very rare feat in the NBA: standing up to LeBron James publicly. James' comments in general were ridiculous, and the fact that he included specific teams and players pushed them past the "reckless" threshold.  Not that he cares. For more reaction to the idea of contraction from small-market teams, check out Matt Moore's piece with Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 3:14 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:53 pm
 

Chris Bosh wants to average 10 rebounds per game

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh wants to average 10 rebounds per game. Can he do it? Posted by Ben Golliverchris-bosh-face Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh has stopped falling completely short of expectations, and he hasn't wasted any time in responding to his many critics. The Miami Herald quotes Bosh as saying that he is feeling extra motivated to "shut up" his detractors.
"For some reason, people think I can't play basketball. I'm a very good basketball player. I can perform when it's time. For some reason, coming into this situation, people were just nitpicking. It gives me an added sense of motivation to do well because I know more people are watching, and just to shut them up. To be frank."
Part of his plan, the paper reports, is to silence critics is to up his rebounding numbers significantly. 
Bosh, averaging 8.2 rebounds, said, "Ten is my number. I'm going to get there. It's going to be a little tougher than it would if I would have gotten off to a better start. Once I get to 10, I'll be happy.'' He averaged a career-high 10.8 last year.
That's a noble and intelligent goal for Bosh, and it's worth a bit of exploring.  But can he do it? Currently, only 10 players in the NBA average 10 or more rebounds per game. Those players: Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, Magic center Dwight Howard, Clippers forward Blake Griffin, Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, Raptors forward Reggie Evans, Bulls center Joakim Noah, Bucks center Andrew Bogut, Lakers forward Pau Gasol, Blazers center Marcus Camby and Warriors center David Lee. In other words, Bosh is setting his sights pretty high. Through 33 games so far this season, Bosh has collected 271 rebounds. Bosh hasn't yet missed a game due to injury or suspension, so he's on track to play all 82 games. If he were to play the entire season without injury, Bosh would need to secure another 549 rebounds to achieve his goal. That averages out to 11.2 rebounds per game, or roughly a 37% increase over his current rate. In other words, he's dug himself a pretty big hole. While Bosh's current rate of 8.2 rebounds per game is good for 29th in the league, the necessary 11.2 rebounds per game is more than all but seven players in the NBA have managed so far this season. In other words, he's asking himself to make the jump from "best rebounder on a team" to "super elite rebounder." Bosh has also only grabbed 11 or more rebounds seven times in Miami's 33 games and has only grabbed more than 11 rebounds four times this season.  That 11.2 rebounds per game number is also above any of Bosh's individual season averages. Bosh has averaged over 10 rebounds per game on three occasions: 10.7 in 2006-2007, 10.0 in 2008-2009 and 10.8 in 2009-2010. However, he is playing fewer minutes (35.2) so far this season than he played in any of those seasons. In other words, he's asking more of himself during the balance of this season than he was every able to produce, including during his contract season last year. And he's asking himself to do it in fewer minutes. Will Bosh be able to reach his goal? A cursory examination reveals that it's not impossible, but it will be quite difficult and it will require Bosh to significantly up his output and maintain that increased production consistently. Should Heat coach Erik Spoelstra play Bosh heavier minutes down the stretch of the season, that would be a big help. Also, Bosh's health is a major factor. Every game that he misses ups the number of rebounds he must grab in the games he does play until he compensates for his slow start.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 12:46 pm
 

Rudy Gay and Z-Bo talk contraction in Memphis

Stars in small-market Memphis, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, weigh in on the good and bad of the idea of contraction.
Posted by Matt Moore




While LeBron James is walking back his contraction talk as quickly as possible, other players are weighing in on the issues at play. In Memphis, the issue of contraction will likely involve the Grizzlies at every turn. A small market team with poor attendance and fewer than 30 wins in five of their nine seasons, the Grizzlies are at the top of every contraction advocate's list for elimination. 

James' main point was about the possibility of great teams, where you'd have stacked rosters like there were in the 80's. (Even though they weren't that stacked in the 80's.) On such teams, Rudy Gay may not be the leader and star he's becoming in Memphis (20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals), he'd be a role player. Gay's very clear in his support of Memphis,but says that it may be the best thing for the league to think about cutting the number of teams in order to create those teams. 

"Yes and no. If I was speaking like I was with the NBA, I'd say yes," Gay told CBSSports.com Monday night. Of course, with more guys, more power teams, there's more focus on those teams, rather than the Indiana Pacers or New Jersey Nets."

At the same time, Gay feels like the great players in this league who already go unnoticed next to the biggest names the league markets would suffer if they were all crammed on teams fighting for top billing. 

"I say no, for us as players. It's kind of tough when the NBA is focused on one team (the Miami Heat) like it has been this year. This league has a lot of great players, like Joe Johnson, Derrick Rose, and even Kevin Durant's not even getting that much attention. Even Caron Butler, who plays next to Dirk Nowitzki. Even myself, O.J. Mayo, Zach Randolph, it's hard when they have power teams that have so much focus, it's hard for us players. But we'll keep on proving it and eventually these guys will get noticed. "

Gay says he's unconcerned with where he plays, though. The market politics of the NBA don't interest him.

"To me it's basketball. I'd do this no matter where I was."

Zach Randolph has been around this league in big and small markets. He's played in New York, Los Angeles, Portland, and now Memphis. So his viewpoint is a little different, and for one, he comes down firmly on the side of fans of teams like the Grizzlies.

"This is a good team, and this is a good city. Even though our fan attendance hasn't been where we want it to be, I think we can get it back up. It's a good basketball city. It's up and down. There are negatives and positives for guys teaming up like they did back then or even how they are now. But I think you need to keep cities like this."

So while James may think it's great for everyone to be in his position, with constant media attention on a team that's stacked with great players at all five spots like Joel Anthony and Carlos Arroyo, not everyone is sold that teams like Memphis need the ax just so there can be "stacked" teams.

Check back Thursday for our feature on Rudy Gay on CBSSports.com.
Posted on: December 6, 2010 9:35 am
 

Shootaround 12.6.10: The Brad Miller Engine

Miller drops his man, Gortat is a soccer nut, Z-BO for USA, and the worst half of basketball ever, all in today's Shootaround.  Posted by Matt Moore

Knicks blog Posting and Toasting says Danilo Galinari needs to make Landry Fields his hero: "Gallo has returned to chilling around the three-point arc and waiting for kick-outs. Even there, his conversion rate has been uncomfortably low. One way he might see more opportunities is to do what Chandler and Landry Fields have been doing and dive in diagonally or along the baseline when Stoudemire receives the ball around the free throw line. It's not like Gallo's hurting the team (5 assists, 4 boards, and decent enough defense on the perimeter), but he can do much more to help them. 2-7 isn't the kind of output you expect from someone with Gallo's scoring ability."

Zach Randolph wants to play for Team USA. I'm curious as to whether Zach realizes that the traditional block concept is nearly absent in international play. 

Marcin Gortat was a huge soccer fan and played it almost exclusively until he was 18 when he found basketball. Add him to the list of guys you'd put on a soccer team from NBA players with Steve Nash being the obvious first overall choice. 

Behold: The worst half of basketball ever.

Brad Miller dropped the man coming around his screen this weekend. Unfortunately, it was his own man

Ben Wallace is so good even at his age that bloggers know they're taking him for granted: "I don’t spend much time writing about Wallace anymore because, frankly, he’s just so consistently good that I don’t think it needs pointing out. But he, along with Hamilton and Prince, was part of the “retro” performance I alluded to in the headline. Wallace had 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks and a steal. He was an imposing presence inside and a huge reason Cleveland’s guards shot poorly. They may have been getting penetration, but Wallace blocked or altered several shots in his 24 minutes and he continued to show that he’s a great high-post passer and someone the Pistons can comfortably take advantage of on offense."

A lockout would be devastating on so many fronts, but here's another: Kevin Garnett may retire

Our own Ben Golliver on what was memorable from last night's Blazers win over the Clippers, the violence: "This game will endure for its random acts of violence. First, and most memorably, Blazers center Joel Przybilla, who was greeted with a standing ovation upon his entry to the game, was flagrantly fouled by Brian Cook with 4 second remaining in the third quarter. The mid-air hit, which sent Przybilla flying to the ground, wound up earning Cook a Flagrant Foul 2 and an immediate ejection. It also set off a tussle under Portland's basket, with Clippers point guard Baron Davis getting into Blazers forward Nicolas Batum's chest, and Przybilla and Clippers big man Craig Smith apparently getting after it as well. All four were assessed technical fouls, and the sequence resulted with Przybilla splitting the free throws awarded him for Cook's flagrant foul, for his only point of the game."

If Brad Miller is the fuel for your offense? You may need to get a new engine.

Glen Davis, meet medicine ball
Posted on: November 16, 2010 12:37 pm
 

Zach Randolph would like that extension now

Posted by Royce Young

Over the summer, it seemed like the Grizzlies and Zach Randolph were going to play it cool with the extension talk. Randolph said he understood the situation and is just focused on playing. You know, saying the right things.

Well now, he'd very much like his money.

In an interview with FanHouse he talked about an extension and he didn't hold back on his wishes.

“I want to do it now,” he told FanHouse Monday before his Grizzlies lost to the Magic, 89-72, in Orlando. “Sooner the better. If we don’t do it now, there are a lot of other teams out there who like me….”

“I’d like to get it out of the way, but they (his agent and the Grizzlies) aren’t really talking right now, at least not that I know of,” he said. “And that’s disappointing. I like playing for this team. I want to stay with this team. I’m a blue-collar player in a blue-collar town, and it’s a good fit. I’m in my prime, and we all know it’s a business, too.”

Things are complicated right now for Memphis in money terms. The Grizzlies just paid Mike Conley a lot of cash and signed Rudy Gay in the offseason. O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol are eligible to be extended soon as well and if Randolph gets paid, somebody has to go.

It's not likely that this will be a clean, simple negotiation. Randolph is making over $17 million this season and has put up some of the best numbers of his career last season at 20.8 ppg and 11.7 rpg. He down to 16 ppg and 10.9 rpg this season so far, but it's early and he's playing a little less.

The FanHouse story said the Grizzlies are looking at something like three years and $40 million, but that's still a hefty price tag for a team that has a number of players to pay. At the same time though, a lot of the Grizzlies' current success is directly tied to Z-Bo's contributions. He's playing well on the court, and off it. He's keeping his head togethr and functioning extremely well within the Memphis system.

The CBA has a lot of players asking for extension as there's a lot of uncertainty with what will happen. Randolph is right. Someone will pay him. But I'm not sure it'll be for what he really wants.
Posted on: November 9, 2010 5:52 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:37 pm
 

Zach Randolph on the move? His agent says no

Zach Randolph was linked to the Detroit Pistons in a trade rumor, but his agent denies it. Posted by Ben Golliverzach-randolph In its Nov. 8 issue, Sports Illustrated reported that Memphis Grizzlies power forward, who put up an amazing 23-point, 20-rebound line last night, is seeking a ride out of town.
His six-year, $84 million contract expires after this season, and a league source says he's not happy that the Grizzlies didn't offer him an extension. Randolph, 29, has put up 20 and 10 in each of the past two seasons and last year shrugged off the loser label by powering Memphis to a 16-win improvement, earning his first All-Star berth. If the Grizzlies, who committed $82 million to Rudy Gay this summer and will have to spend big to retain free agents Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, are looking to deal, multiple sources say Randolph's preferred destination is Detroit, where he would fill the gaping hole in the Pistons' frontcourt.
In response, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal quotes Randolph's agent, Raymond Brothers, shooting down the rumor.
"There's no truth to that rumor," Brothers said. "All Zach needs is a basketball and a court to play on to be happy. Zach's happy. He loves Memphis. That's nonsense."
The Grizzlies can come to terms on a contract with Randolph any time this season. If no deal is reached, then Randolph will become an unrestricted free agent. And surely, there will be a market for a 20-10 All Star. 
If I'm Memphis, having just committed massive dollars to both wing Rudy Gay and point guard Mike Conley, with guard O.J. Mayo and big man Marc Gasol due for extensions soon, moving Zach Randolph and his expiring contract at the deadline for a piece and/or draft picks makes a lot of sense. But a serious playoff run would be huge a morale boost for a franchise that needs it as badly as any in the league. In other words, Z-Bo trade talk should wait until at least January. If the Grizzlies are out of contention at that point, ship his reliable post production down the road, or up the river to Detroit if that's who is interested. The Pistons could do a lot worse than a Greg Monroe / Zach Randolph frontcourt of the (near) future.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 6:03 pm
 

Preseason Primer: Memphis Grizzlies

Posted by Matt Moore
 
Out of nowhere, the Grizzlies rose to relevance last year, nearly making the playoffs in the hyper-competitive Western Conference. Over the summer they bucked up and paid the bill to keep Rudy Gay and became embroiled in a bizarre holdout with their rookies. The team again has low expectations and is flying under the radar. The question most people have is if they can possibly succeed like they did last season, and is that nearly enough? We take a look at where the Grizzlies are as we continue our Preseason Primers...




Training camp site: Memphis Grizzlies

Training camp starts: September 28th

Key additions: Tony Allen (free agency), Acie Law (free agency), Xavier Henry (draft)

Key subtractions: Ronnie Brewer (free agency)

Likely starting lineup:
Mike Conley (PG), O.J. Mayo (SG), Rudy Gay (SF), Zach Randolph (PF), Marc Gasol (C)

Player to watch:
Xavier Henry. Why? Because we haven't seen him since Kansas finished getting eliminated by a massive underdog in the NCAA tournament. Henry was absent from Summer League due to the holdout stemming from Michael Heisley's bizarre insistance that the rookie earn his bonus by doing something extra as far as performance. Like, some sort of bonus performance. Silly man. Eyes will be on Henry, whose play could have multiple impacts on the Grizz. If he solidifies the backcourt rotation, the Grizzlies will finally gain some depth after being one of the shallowest rotations in the league last season. Furthermore, if he can work with O.J. Mayo as a pair of combo guards, it could mean less time for Mike Conley. With Conley coming up on a possible extension, these are relevant questions not just for this season, but going forward.


Chemistry quiz:
How can the frontcourt stay chipper? Marc Gasol, whose overall play may have been better than All-Star Zach Randolph last season, continues to face the fact that the Grizzlies drafted Hasheem Thabeet with the second overall pick. Hamed Haddadi occasionally looks like a player worthy of minutes. DeMarre Carroll needs to compete and compete hard in training camp if he wants to find minutes this year. The Grizzlies aren't deep in the frontcourt, but given the bizarre makeup of the players involved, its a wonder they got along so well last year. But they did. Shockingly, after Allen Iverson departed for the basketball ether, the team became very close, constantly rushing to each other in confrontations and celebrating. The team genuinely likes each other. They're like a peacful commune... that probably smells really bad at times.


Camp battles:
Backup point guard should be a good one, with Acie Law, Greivis Vasquez, and other camp invites vying for the backup slot. Okay, maybe "good one" is a bit much, but it should be competitive, especially given there's not that much of a gap between those players and Mike Conley in the point guard department.

Injury issues:
The Grizzlies are primarily healthy. Marc Gasol looked completely healthy in the FIBA tournament, though the wear and tear may have some impacts. All in all, they're a young team that's pretty healthy.

Biggest strength:
Up and down. The Grizzlies can get up and down the floor and have an efficient offense. They crash the offensive glass especially well with Randolph and Gasol. They hustle and very rarely get caught without an option to create a shot.

Glaring weakness:
Yet again, the answer is defense. The Grizzlies aren't individually terrible on defense, they're just bad within the system. Part of that function is built around their inability to get rest. The starters always play, and they get worn down. Plus, they're young. Put simply, if the team defense doesn't improve considerably, the odds of their record improving the ten games they need to make the playoffs are slim.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com