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Slow week in the world of the Grizzlies, but there is still plenty to talk about at this point in the year. As always, we got the 3 Shades of Blue crew to round up and answer some burning questions as we look towards the weekend.

1. Tonight marks the halfway point for the Grizzlies season. How do you grade Dave Joerger so far?

Photo: Steve Danziger / 3 Shades of Blue

Photo: Steve Danziger / 3 Shades of Blue

Chip CrainIncomplete. Joerger started poorly, injuries derailed part of the season and we are just now starting to see what he can do as a coach. He’s 3-1 since Gasol returned but each game has seen the team seemingly revert back to last season’s style of play with less and less bench production. If he can find a way to keep the starters playing well and the bench producing too then he will have done something this season.

Anthony SainCoach Joerger probably focused too much of training camp trying to implement a new offensive strategy which was obviously to the detriment of the team in the early going. He has gotten better with his rotations and team plays small ball very well. He looks like a much better coach with players that fit system. I’ve seen some better and some worse first year coaches so I would give him a C+

Zach Thomas: I give Joerger a C+ so far. Mainly for his attire. Ok, I’m just giving him a hard time. I like Joerger, alot. I love his candidness in the media. I love that when he speaks, I hear myself talking. As for his coaching ability, I know he is a smart guy who understands the limits of his team but also the capabilities, while also trying to get them to play better. He has been dealt a difficult hand with the injuries, but his rotation decisions have been pretty spotty at times, in spite of injuries. I still can’t ascertain his full array of decisions, but I imagine the way he handles the return of TA and the reintegration of Gasol into the offense will weigh heavily into our playoff chances, and thus, fair or unfair, his coaching grade.

Steve Danziger: B-. Can’t go much higher than that given that the team is currently out of the playoff picture, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed with the way that he’s been able to rally the troops given the circumstances he has faced. It would have been real easy to lose the team while undergoing that tumultuous Marc-less stretch, but his ability to weather the storm as well as seamlessly integrate two new pieces into the wing rotation has been admirable. For his next trick, he’s (fingers crossed) going to have to steer a healthy ship while keeping all these guys happy.

Carl Chaplin: Rather Well – not great or bad. Considering the injuries and the trades with new players, he’s done well to keep the team at 500. He has done well also to integrate the bench into play so they can be real contributors.

2. Independent of matchups, what’s your favorite 1-5 lineup that a healthy Grizzlies team can put on the floor?

Chip: Conley, Lee, Prince, Randolph and Gasol. This gives the team a good defensive unit while maintaining three point shooting and an interior presence. Randolph requires double teams which opens up perimeter shooters and Gasol brings interior toughness on defense. I wanted to add James Johnson as well but lately his play has been too erratic. I can understand the coach not using that lineup at the end of games but it may not be much longer until he does add JJ to the closers permanently.

Anthony: I have another one that may not be a fan favorite but I will just go with this one for now to keep the peace. Conley, Allen, Lee, Randolph, Gasol.

Zach: That’s a tough one and I have my reasons but I’ll just answer the question. When clicking on all cylinders and fully healthy I’d like to see a Conley, Lee, Allen, Koufos & Gasol lineup.

Steve: I think that assuming health, Marc, Mike, and Zach are a given. As for the two and three spots, seeing as I just wrote a piece on how the lineup metrics of the wing rotations have been shaking out, it would be pretty hypocritical of me to go against the findings that Lee and Prince have produced incredible results so far. However, the question does say favorite lineup and James Johnson is fun as hell to watch, so I’ll say: Conley/Lee/Johnson/Randolph/Gasol.

Carl: Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Tony Allen (for defensive reasons), Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.

3. What kind of contract will it take to keep Ed Davis this summer?

Chip: Great question and one our former agent and current President needs to find out now if he doesn’t already know from pre-season negotiations on his extension. The corollary question is can the Grizzlies keep Randolph, Gasol and Davis all happy? It seems Davis can play with Randolph but there isn’t that connection yet with Marc. If all three plus Koufas and Leuer can’t co-exist who becomes expendable? Davis, Leuer and Koufas are all 24 while Randolph and Gasol are older.

Anthony: I see Ed maxing out at 3 years 18 million. We may end up regretting not finishing a deal with him this past summer

Zach: I’m not sure at the moment he is “keepable.” However, if other deals are made to keep him I think at minimum a $5.5mil/yr deal will be necessary to keep his services. That would make him the 4th highest player on the team and I think he falls into the top 5 or 6 most valuable players to us. The big man market being what it is, I would think slightly overpaying to keep him may be required.

Steve: Say what you want about conspiracy theories, but a large part of why I think that Zbo will not be dealt this season has to do with the fact keeping Davis on the bench holds his re-sign value down. Mid-level money will probably be enough, but if so, I don’t see him locking up for less than four years. Don’t forget, there’s also the option of him taking the qualifying offer and playing out next season in hopes of boosting his value as a UFA next summer.

Carl: 6 to 7 mil a year. His upside is big and he knows it, yet he’s not a star, so way under the 10 mil+ range.

4. The Grizzlies are the only team in the Western playoff hunt with a losing record at home. What gives, and will they turn it around?

Photo: Steve Danziger / 3 Shades of Blue

Photo: Steve Danziger / 3 Shades of Blue

Chip: Poor play against poor teams and a difficult home schedule so far combined with injuries and early season confusion with the new players and coach is what gives. Of course they will turn it around and finish the season with a winning home record. The real question is have they shot themselves in the feet already as far as a stiff run is concerned. The last three seasons no Western conference playoff team has had more than 13 home losses. The Grizzlies have 13 today.

Anthony: I think that a lot of our early road woes were due to self inflicted pressure and tightness from the team. They knew that they weren’t playing well and that they didn’t feel comfortable in the new offense and the fans let then know as well.

Zach: I noticed this last week. it is absolutely mind blowing how awful we have played at home. I have no answer for why it has happened. I do think we will turn it around. Unfortunately the rest of our schedule has more road games than home games and though we have been relatively good on the road, I fear we may end up .500 on the road from here out.

Steve: I think Anthony hit the nail on the head here. It’s easy to be hometown heroes when you’re playing well, but not so much when you’re going through the bumps in the road. Just ask our point guards — Conley dealt with it the whole early portion of his career, and Nick’s feeling the heat now. On the road, they were able to tune out and isolate themselves from the chirping surrounding the team. I think a final home record of 22-19, is doable, putting them at 11-6 from here on out. They’re going to have to be road warriors to make the playoffs.

Carl: It’s a quandary. Perhaps part of the reason is that 17 of the 24 home games have been against Western Conf. teams. The West is hard no matter who you play. Of the East teams they seem to have been playing well when we played them. In the end, it is strange, but it has to be reversed if the Grizzlies are going to contend in the West.

5. Over/under 10 free throw attempts for James Harden tonight?

Chip: Over and that’s what he does. His style promotes contact and he uses that effectively as well as over-emoting at times. The fact that Harden hasn’t been called out by the league for flopping is truly remarkable (or expected in a league that never calls out its stars). I don’t mind his getting to the line legitimately but the acting makes me sick.

Anthony: Over. James Harden has already shot 4 and he’s on the line again now.

Zach: Over and double it, both games combined (Fri -Sat) he shoots 34 FTs.

Steve: I’ll play devil’s advocate and take the under. The Grizzlies made the mistake of trying to play him physical last game — something I don’t expect them to repeat, and he “only” averages 8.9 attempts on the season.

Carl: Over. He just knows how to get to the line and if Tony is still out then I don’t think Lee or anyone can guard him well enough to keep him from getting fouled.

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 to the 3SOB team on Twitter with the hashtag #FridayMorningFive!

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7 Responses to Friday Morning Five

  1. btrautscNo Gravatar says:

    regarding lineups: COnley, Lee, Johnson, Zbo, Gasol is by far the most dynamic lineup we offer, both offensively & defensively. I’d like to see miller and tony get time in their (and a backup Pg), but i think it is time to move prince.

    which brings me to my next point: regarding davis, i dont see how/ why the grizz keep him. he will likely have offers greater than $6M/ year. If you’re another team and know the grizz will match or let him walk, why not at least bid 3 yr/ $7m??

    i hope we can swing him and prince for another asset on the wing and a pg. time missing tony has not resulted in dramatic defensive lapses, and our offense “looks” better at times with him not part of the rotation. I would be surprised to see him moved, but it would be silly not to assess his value on the market for future pieces or cap consideration (I know this is blasphemy to homers).

    • btrautscNo Gravatar says:

      some weird typoes there. sorry.

    • Steve DanzigerNo Gravatar says:

      Btrautsc, thanks as always for the feedback, good to hear what voices other than our own are thinking.

      - Definitely agree about the explosiveness of that lineup.
      - Davis is going to be tricky. I have a real difficult time speculating on his situation, and I would hope/imagine that the front office has a far better finger on the pulse than we do. If there’s a serious flight risk regarding his contract status, I’d think it might be prudent to move him, but time will tell.
      - It’s going to be interesting to see how Tony re-integrates to the mix, with Lee now arguably deserving the majority of the SG minutes. I can’t say I’d be willing to dump him in a $ move at this point, but four years is a long way to go on those knees.

  2. blakelytal21No Gravatar says:

    As far as JOEGER GOES, I AGREE THAT HIS BIGGEST FAILURE WAS TRYING TO FIX SOMETHING THAT WASN’t broken. The Grizz got to the w finals because they played a different type of ball than most & used their strengths and didn’t try to do things they weren’t very good at. Many times a new coach feEls as though, especially when Already on staff for years,that he must put his stamp On the team. He likely wanted tO prove his worth after it was well known that many fans were pRO Hollins. Give him credit now for stepping back and realizing he was wrong trying to change our philosophIes, rather EMbrace theM & lately he’s done just thAt. OTher than that I think overall he’s done a decent job. Look, I’m a Hollins guy and was irate over the whole deal because I Believed it was ludicrous to take our Leader away when we played as he played and as He coached.HE WAS GREAT MAKING HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS AND WAS EVEN BETTER PLAY CALLING AFTER TIMEOUTS. JUST LOOK AT THE SCORING PERCENTAGES LAST YEAR AFTER A TIMEOUT. SO I’LL NEVER AGREE WITH THE FIRING BUT M A GRIZZ AND IF JOEGERS THE GRIZZ COACH THEN HE’S MY COACH. I REALLY THINK HE’S ON THE RIGHT PATH NOW WITH THIS TEAM AND WILL LIKELY HAVE A GOOD CAREER AS THE HEAD MAN FOR OUR GRIZZ.

  3. blakelytal21No Gravatar says:

    FyI: LAST NITE I HEARD COACH HOLLINS ON HIS WEEKLY RADIO SHOW DISCUSSING THE ALLSTAR RESULTS…I JUST KNEW HE’D STICK UP FOR MIKE CONLEY & would make a good case for him to be voted in by COaches. Well I waited and waitEd aS He called off several names like Isaiah Thomas and I’ve drawN a blank…the suns pg ? Anyways you see my point..basically he was making cases for guys That wasn’t getting any respect because of Being on smaller marKet teams..even though he did, fInally, mention ZBO he never said anything about mike….so, of course, I was surprised especially after the way he fUssed Last year about mike Not getting on the team last year. Actually, I thought they were preTty close and I expected him To back mike up but he never did..ok, I’d still take him back but I’m a little upset at him at The momeNt…

  4. blakelytal21No Gravatar says:

    My starting five with everyone healthy would be Conley…Lee…prince…Randolph…Gasol…honestly, I’m still not sure if starting ta over lee so thaT we’ve have a scorer coming off he bench wouldn’t be better. Listen, the coaching staff get Paid the big bucks for a reason and know more than I do so ill trust them. We almost owe ta the startng spot if he really cares. Ta is best scoring in the first few minutes of the game so I’d have no issue with him starting when he returns and I think lee will be fine cOming off the bench. I’d leave prince The starter at sF because lee nor ta would match up with most teams at The sf spot. I really think this will be the eventual starters (does it really matter? Lee will be there with Johnson at the End most of the Time anyways) …CONLEY…TA…PRINCE…RANDOLPH..GASOL …..JUST AS IT HAS BEEN FOR A WHILE WHEN ALLS HEALTHY…

    • Steve DanzigerNo Gravatar says:

      Good points blakelytal. Here’s my take on a few of the things you brought up:

      - I trust the coaching staff fully to make the right decision at this point regarding the starting lineup, but mainly because I’m not all that concerned. As you said, Lee + Johnson might be playing the end regardless, and that’s probably all that really matters.

      - I’d love to see Conley get the All-star nod, but the west is hella crowded with talent, and I wouldn’t mind him getting the time off to rest anyways. All-star weekend is a whirlwind and I can’t imagine any player coming off that break refreshed if they’re in the game.

      - I liked Hollins and thought that he should have been given the opportunity to stay and “finish what he started” so to speak, but hey sometimes things just don’t work out. I like what Joerger has been able to do given the struggles with personnel that he has had to overcome. Once the team gets healthy, however, no more pass for him — the team is going to have to keep performing at a high level from here on out.

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