In this edition of the Friday Morning Five, the 3 Shades of Blue team explores the recent trade of Jerryd Bayless, it’s ramifications on the depth chart, and the team’s chances in tonight’s game.
1. It’s been rough sailing since the last Friday Morning Five, but the team MVP since then is…
Chip Crain: Tough call but I will have to go with Mike Conley. He was excellent in the losses and was good in the Pistons blowout. Close behind was the a Grizzlies bench which has suddenly become one of the better benches in the league.
Anthony Sain: Mike Conley. He finally looks healthy and the Spurs game alone makes him look like team MVP.
Antonia Bufalino: I can’t fight it anymore: James Johnson. I want to say Mike Conley, but after the confidence, energy, effort, and fight that James brought against the Spurs, I feel like it would be a crime for me not to say him. What he has brought to this team in the short time he’s been here is nothing short of incredible. Over and over again, he continues to surpass my expectations.
Steve Danziger: Number 11. His balancing act between keeping the team afloat through the ugly stretches and deferring to the bigs when the situation calls for it is vastly underrated in its masterful execution. Not to mention the fact that a guy giving three straight games with three three pointers on this roster is just tremendously difficult to come by. Now he needs some help, so that he can be fresh for a late season push… but more on that later.
2. In our single game sample, what are your thoughts on Courtney Lee?
Chip: Courtney is a true SG with legitimate 3 point range and defensive ability. He is a big upgrade over Bayless as a two guard. However, Lee also leaves the team without a legitimate backup PG. The net effect as it stands could actually hurt the team more than help it and his salary makes it difficult to pay Davis this coming summer.
Anthony: Absolutely love the trade. Lee brings you so much more than Bayless could as a shooting guard. His length, defense and shooting fit perfectly with what Coach Joerger wants to do. The fact that he came out looking to take big shots in overtime speaks volumes and I’m looking forward to seeing him possibly in the starting lineup while Tony Allen is out.
Antonia: I like Courtney Lee. He is more athletic than I thought and fits his role well: spot-up shooter with minimal driving capability. I do believe Lee is a better fit for this team and the system our team has. Even though it hurt/broke my heart to see JB go, I do think the front office made the right move. What impressed me is how they took on money. It decreases a lot of their flexibility, but it shows how they don’t want to win next year but now and are going all in to get there.
Steve: Looking at Courtney Lee in a vacuum, I think that he’s a fantastic fit for the roster. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about his inability to stick in any single location, but I have yet to do enough digging to ascertain the reason behind it. Nothing occurs in a vacuum in the NBA, though, and his on-court impact needs to be damn good to outweigh the additional financial burden that it places on the team going forward.
3. Go with your gut here: assuming nobody gets injured, is Nick Calathes the backup point guard in April?
Chip: I hope and pray not. Calathes could develop into a legitimate backup PG but he clearly isn’t ready and putting him on the court isn’t going to help his confidence any.
Anthony: I’m yet to see a situation where this FO hasn’t stuck to their guns concerning a guy that they have their stamp on. The fact that Seth Curry was not brought in for a 10 day contract probably also sends a message to Nick that they are depending on him as well.
Antonia: No. If the management is all for making a deep run into the playoffs then I don’t think they will spend (or have) the time to develop Nick Calathes. He is an excellent passer, don’t get me wrong, but he comes with some faults like excessive dribbling and being turnover/foul prone. We can not lose games, especially at the expense of developing Calathes. That puts finding a PG to run the second-unit at the top of the list, and I do believe the front office is on the looking for one.
Steve: I’m going to lean towards a “no” at this juncture. I’d absolutely advise against the team giving up on him long-term, but Mike Conley is going to be frayed at both ends if he needs to be called back into the game every time things start to go awry. Then again, no disrespect to the guy, but I’m not sure how good I’d feel about another Keyon Dooling situation. I have to believe there’s something else in the works.
4. Dating back to last season, we’re looking at seven straight losses against San Antonio. What do the Grizzlies need to do to get a ‘W’ against them?
Chip: Better all around play starting from the bigs and wing players. The Grizzlies need people who will punish the Spurs for sucking in on Z-Bo and Marc is all. We started to see a team capable of doing that Tuesday night but they didn’t have Gasol. I think this team will be very difficult come the playoffs if Marc returns soon.
Anthony: The Spurs execution is simply beautiful on offense and they make so many teams look silly. The only way we beat them is if we play where you call your own fouls but then again we would have to shoot for it so…
Antonia: I could be really cliche and say, “Heart, grit, and grind,” but I honestly feel it’s a game of runs with them. We give them stops, and they punish us for it by executing at their end of the court. If we want to beat the Spurs, our execution on both ends needs to be at the top. When their defense collapses in the paint and they dare us to shoot, we need to dish the ball to someone on the perimeter and call their bluff.
Steve: Pop resting his players? On a serious note, a three point barrage. The Spurs do nothing but dare the Grizzlies to shoot the 3-ball, and unless the Grizz can force their hand into making adjustments — introducing opportunity for error — the trend is going to prevail.
5. We’re looking at Phoenix again, tonight, with no Jerryd Bayless to take over the fourth this time around. Will the Grizzlies get the ‘W’ to make it three straight over them?
Chip: The Grizzlies simply can’t afford to lose any more home games. I expect them to come out with a ton of motivation and jump on the Suns early so that Phoenix doesn’t feel they have a chance.
Anthony: The Suns are a team that just doesn’t match up well with what we like to do inside. With Bledsoe out and the home team playing with new found energy, I see us pulling out a win.
Antonia: Yes. I’m hoping James Johnson and Courtney Lee will step up and provide the 4th quarter spark we lost when we traded Bayless.
Steve: Since I’m in Memphis for the game, I’m going to say they must! When the Grizzlies played them last week, it was a throwback to the signature Grit n’ Grind games of last season, and Tuesday’s loss just adds fuel to the fire, while Phoenix just got some bad news about its standout guard, Eric Bledsoe.
Have any questions for the 3 Shades of Blue staff to chew on? Feel free to send them our way via the comment section, e-mail, calling into 3SOB Radio on Sports56 every Saturday morning, sending smoke signals, or reaching out on Twitter with the hashtag #FridayMorningFive!