For the first time in some time, things are looking up in Grizz-land, but there are still some pressing issues surrounding the team going forward. Let’s take a look at ’em.
1. Four straight wins! So which player is deserving of the highest honors this week?
Josh Coleman: Marc Gasol. Although Courtney Lee has played at a very high level since joining the team, and James Johnson has been a whirlwind, it’s hard to give this to anyone other than WENDIGO given how much of a boost he has given the team and its fanbase with his return to action.
Jonathan May: Tough call. Lee played great and emotionally it feels like “Marc Gasol Week” but as usual, the foundation of the team’s success was Michael Conley, Jr. The guy has earned a spot on the All-Star team, particularly with the injuries at PG in the West.
Steve Danziger: James Johnson. It takes a lot of power within me to nominate anybody other than Mike Conley for this… ever. However, “Dynamite,” as it’s fun to call him, has been just that. I’m not just caught up in his 6 block performance against the Bucks, either, as he has logged 2+ blocks AND 2+ steals in each of the past three games. Just nasty game-changing effectiveness.
2. Who starts at the two when Tony is healthy?
Josh: Tony still starts for now, but it would not surprise me if he no longer finishes games, given C.L33’s ability to spread the floor on offense while still playing solid defense. We saw that a lot the last couple of years where TA was relegated to towel waver while someone like Pondexter or Bayless closed out games, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to predict the same thing here.
Jonathan: I have struggled with this. My preference is to pull Clanks (Prince) from the starting lineup for Johnson, but letting TA play with the second unit probably allows for better balance. If Lee keeps playing the way he has, it will be hard to keep him off the floor, whether to start the game or finish it.
Steve: I’m going to go with Tony. Starting Lee might be best for the team, but that’s an incredibly tough sell for Coach Joerger to make to the group and I’m not sure it’s worth the potential fallout among the veterans, with the way the team has picked up steam right now. I’d expect a similar arrangement to that of Prince and Johnson at the 3, which is good enough for the time being.
3. What, if anything, do the Grizzlies do about the backup point guard position?
Josh: Make a trade or signing — and soon. I’m neither knocking nor defending Calathes (not booing him either), but it’s apparent that he just isn’t ready for that role right now. The front office will have to bring someone else in that is capable of giving Conley at least 10-12 minutes of rest each night without letting everything fall apart around him.
Jonathan: Abandon hope? Try to exercise patience with Calathes? Probably somewhere between the two. The best answer is probably to trade an expendable piece (Ed?) for a solid backup PG. Hopefully that deal will include someone taking Clanks off our hands.
Steve: This is the million dollar question. I would have to believe that the front office has had a plan to fix this up well before trading Jerryd Bayless away, but is waiting to see what Calathes can do with the keys in his hands before pulling the trigger on a follow-up move. Regardless, there is plenty of depth between the wings and bigs to pull a backup lead guard via trade, if the circumstances continue to deem it necessary.
4. As a veiled extension of the previous question, would you boo a Grizzlies player at the Forum?
Josh: No. I could go into great detail, but suffice it to say that I don’t see any scenario in which I would boo a singular player for the Grizzlies. The whole team if they aren’t playing with passable intensity/motivation/
Jonathan: Absolutely. These guys are paid an insane amount of money. Even a guy like Calathes is making ~23 times the a average American. We pay that salary when we buy tickets and tshirts. That entitles the fans to express their discontent in any fashion short of exposing a player to physical danger (meaning don’t throw anything at them).
Steve: It really depends on the situation. Booing a player can be really effective to light a fire when he’s going through the motions, but I don’t believe that to be the case with Nick. He’s over-thinking and underplaying as a result. I fear that the lack of support from the home crowd is only making matters worse.
5. We’ve got Rudy Gay on deck tonight, who seems to have found himself in Sacramento. What kind of line can we expect?
Josh: Rudy Gay will finish with 18 points on 7-18 FG (1-5 3PT) and 3-5 FT, as well as 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, and 1 steal that leads to a breathtaking breakaway dunk.
Jonathan: Rudy has been playing better since getting to SAC. I expect 26 points on ~47% shooting.
Steve: I expect Sacramento to be more focused on getting DeMarcus Cousins grooving against a sub-prime Gasol, but I give Rudy about 22 points on 55% from the field.
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