Watching the Grizzlies this season is like watching my teenage son grow into manhood.
I love my son but he makes mistakes, a lot of them to be honest. He doesn’t appear to give the proper amount of effort on the things that should be important to him. He has me so mad at times I want to strangle him while pulling my hair out.
I don’t have a lot of hair to pull out so I need to be careful about that too.
But I can see he is growing into a man and probably a man who will make me proud to be his father. The mistakes are frustrating but I have to let him experience them. Only then can I see him learn from the mistakes and become stronger and smarter.
Oh sure, I could alleviate a lot of his troubles by standing on top of him and supervising every decision but that isn’t being a good parent. Once he reaches manhood he will be responsible for his own decisions and so I have to allow him to make the errors now so he can learn from them. I have to let the child burn his hand a few times to learn not to touch a hot stove so to speak. It would be easier to stop him in advance but would it be better for him in the long run? I don’ think so.
It’s the same way with the Grizzlies. They make dumb mistakes. They don’t appear to give the proper effort every night. One minute everything clicks and the next they look lost. The fans want to pull their hair out one minute and just blow the team up the next.
That’s how it is when you have to create maturity out of a team still growing together. Joerger could alleviate some of the problems by just playing the veteran starters longer and yanking the backups when they make a mistake. That would be easier honestly but would it be better for the team?
Gasol’s injury has aggravated the situation but a slow start with rather disjointed games should be expected if the objective is to grow this team into long term competitors. That is how players who rarely saw the court last season grow into roles this season.
What fans need to remember is that while the starters are very mature the rest of the team is not.
Give the team until January and if they are still around .500 then there should be a deeper team (the talent isn’t the problem here) functioning as a team and ready to make a second half run. If the team falls apart and is out of the running for the playoffs then there is going to be more bench development, a high draft pick and the team still returns basically intact next season. It’s painful but it has to be done just the same.
As many people remember, I loved Hollins as a coach but he didn’t develop the youth on the team or create an atmosphere for success from the bench. I can admit that. He coached to win every game. For Hollins, that meant playing the veterans at the expense of developing the bench. That is the reason the bench is so disjointed this year. Hollins created the winning atmosphere but he also retarded the development of the younger players in the process. There were more than a few promising young players who never saw the court under Hollins making serious contributions around the league with other teams now.
Joerger and the FO are trying to build something for the future and it takes patience, sacrifice and at times ugly efforts like the Nets game to reach that level. It doesn’t happen overnight or by making radical changes to the roster. The chemistry needed to build this team into a championship level contender doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch.
There is not one bench player performing the same role he had at this point last season.
Think about that for a moment.
Bayless (25) is now strictly a PG where last December he was the backup PG. The Grizzlies have a rookie PG backing up Conley in Nick Calathes (24), Bayless and Pondexter (25) fighting for PT, Mike Miller (33) at SF was in Miami last year, Ed Davis (24) was in Toronto, Jon Leuer (24) was in Cleveland and Kosta Koufas (24) in Denver.
And in case anyone missed it, the Grizzlies bench is very young. Only Miller is over 25 years old. Only Bayless, Koufas and Miller have played significant and consistent minutes the last few years. The group has played together only 16 games so far. Naturally they are struggling. Consider how long it took for Mike Conley to make consistent contributions on the team after all.
I have talked about chemistry a lot over the years. I don’t believe teams can be thrown together and make contributions like they can in fantasy sports. The real world just doesn’t work that way. The Grizzlies bench is better than they are playing right now. They just have to get adjusted the NBA game and learn their jobs better. By learning their jobs better I mean knowing where they are supposed to be on the court with this team, trusting your teammates to be where they are supposed to be and knowing not only what they can and can’t do offensively but also what their teammates can and can’t do.
It sounds simple but it really isn’t when you are trying to figure these things out against some of the best athletes in the world who already are experienced and know what they can and can’t do.
The season is barely five weeks old right now. Just like a teenager, the Grizzlies youngsters are making mistakes, appearing to not give proper effort and basically frustrating the heck out of the fans but that is part of growing up. We as fans have to give them time, allow them to make their mistakes and most importantly to learn from them so when the games do matter the most they are prepared to stand up and make important contributions to help the team win.
It’s painful now to watch right now but the long term effect is going to be positive for the Grizzlies.