Since 3 Shades of Blue last checked in for a round of fives, the Grizzlies gave us the holiday surprise of a two game win streak, leading up to last night’s frustration fest. So how are we feeling?
1. As always we’ll start off by asking who has been the Grizzlies’ MVP since our last round-up?
Lee Eric Smith: Zach Randolph . . . and not just for on-the-court reasons. Obviously, he’s led the team in scoring on these two wins. They were both against subpar opponents who the Grizzlies still should beat. But the Commercial Appeal named him Sportsman of the Year for tangible and intangible impact he has on the city. Oh yeah, and he’s back to his 20-10 self on the hardwood as well. So yeah. MVZ-Bo.
Josh Coleman: Tony Allen has been great lately, and Zach Randolph has put up some impressive numbers over the past two games, as well. My MVP has been newcomer James Johnson, though. His ability to step into the starting lineup and play 30+ minutes in those games has been almost as shocking as it has been needed. With Quincy out and Tayshaun banged up, this team needed a SF, and he has delivered.
Phillip Dean: Tony Allen. He mentioned to me before the win against the Jazz that’s he is fighting through a lot of injuries right now and understands he needs to be on the floor right to help this team defensively. The man is a fighter and will not go down quietly.
Antonia Bufalino: James Johnson and Tony Allen definitely deserve honorable mention, but I have to go with Zach Randolph. He continues to be the go-to guy with Marc still being out with the injury. Even with the huge offensive load put on him, Zach continues to produce and be a driving force for this team.
Steve Danziger: Zach Randolph, no doubt. Dude has been 20/10+ in each of the three games since last Friday, and has gotten to the line at a clip of 9.3 times per game over that span. He’s even looked like a leader (vocally speaking) on the defensive end. Zach Randolph can ball.
2. Let’s look at the newbies. Are you impressed with James Johnson so far?
Lee: He’s brought a much needed shot of energy and exuberance to the starting lineup. He plays like a guy who knows that having a job as an NBA player is a pretty damn good one, and so he is working to fit in and help the team. I have a hunch the kid can score too. If I’m right then, we might be looking at Tayshaun coming off the bench . . . or suiting up elsewhere.
Josh: See above. Seriously though, this is a guy who was playing in the D-League a little over a week ago, and now people are talking about him being the starter for the remainder of the season, even if Prince comes back full-strength. His length, size, athleticism, and outside shooting make him a great fit for this squad now, much less once Marc Gasol re-enters the lineup.
Phillip: Absolutely. He brings a huge amount of energy on the floor and for the starting 5 and that’s something they’ve been needing at begining of games. He hustles for balls, he blocks shot, he makes strong runs to the paints, can make three-pointers, and makes big dunks to get the crowd going. If he can carry this throughout the end of the season, the front office will look very smart for signing James Johnson.
Antonia: Yes, absolutely. The energy and effort he brings to the team is outstanding. I was worried that Johnson’s production would slip after Prince returned to the starting line up against Houston, but it was exactly the opposite. He continues to surpass my expectations.
Steve: I’ll admit to being skeptical at the time of the signing, but his injection of life into what was this corpse of a team has been a joy to watch. I owe him a mighty thanks for playing a major role in saving me from Grizzly apathy. Those jams against the Rockets had me off the couch in a hurry.
3. Onto that other signing… the one with the superstar brother. Over/under 10 minutes per game for Seth Curry?
Lee: Depends on how he shoots it. Period. End of story. If has anything close to Steph Curry’s range and reliability, there will be as many minutes for him as he wants. I’m guessing it’ll take him a few games to get used to the team. But by the beginning of the year, I’d expect him to be good for as many as 15-20 minutes a game — if he shoots and scores consistently.
Josh: I will say under with the caveat of it being with this current roster. If a big trade occurs, then lots of players could see their minutes skyrocket upwards. However, he will probably struggle to find minutes behind Tony Allen and Jerryd Bayless, as Seth is an undersized shooting guard, not really a point guard
Phillip: Will be hard to see him get playing time in front of Tony Allen and Jerryd Bayless. If Bayless continues to struggle and Curry makes an impact immediately it’s possible Curry can jump Bayless in rotations.
Antonia: Until the front office makes a move in the trade department, I think Seth will get under. It’ll be hard for him to log minutes behind proven veterans like Tony Allen and Jerryd Bayless.
Steve: I’m going to answer with a spineless form of over. Chris Vernon tweeted that the contract doesn’t become guaranteed until mid-January, so I’m thinking the front office might really want to give him some burn before then. As a fan of Duke basketball (I know, I know) I selfishly want him to stick around. If he can make a difference shooting the ball, all the better! It also stands to note that with 32% of the vote, Seth won the 3SOB “who should the Grizzlies sign” poll by a landslide.
4. It’s always fun to talk trades. Of all realistic targets, who sits atop your holiday wishlist?
Lee: Difficult to say. The only players I could see the Grizzlies realistically moving would be Ed Davis and/or Tayshaun Prince and/or Jerryd Bayless, neither of whom have much trade value right now. And “realistic targets?” I’m trying to think of one, given that last sentence I just wrote, and I’m coming up short. However, it stands to reason that the Grizz should be looking to get some young talent back — or better yet, a draft pick in the upcoming loaded class of 2014. It’s time to start reloading the roster with young talent, so I’d imagine that would be on LevLasHoll’s to do list.
Josh: I don’t see any big names out there, but I’d love to flip Jerryd Bayless’s surprise contract option pickup into Mike Dunleavy’s similar deal with the Bulls. Dunleavy would give the Grizzlies another lengthy wing scorer on a reasonable deal capable of spreading the floor.
Phillip: I keep getting the feeling that someone from Memphis will be traded very soon but I don’t know who. If there’s a team that would be willing to take Tayshaun Prince’s contract and bring Memphis a legit 3-point shooter I would be happy with that but I still don’t know if that possibility will happen.
Antonia: I’d like to see the front office take a swing at Jeff Green. I think he would be a great fit for our team and a huge upgrade at the 3 position. It would have to be a package and most realistically involving Prince and JB; however, I’m not sure how Bayless would feel about being traded to the Boston Celtics.
Steve: I came up with these questions and to be honest I’m kind of mad at myself for this one, because I’m struggling with it. It’s hard to drum up any sort of “realistic” deal that generates value for two sides, and I’m convinced that the team’s small forward of the future is not in the NBA yet. So on the wishlist I’d have draft picks — even second rounders with the class coming up, but in terms of immediate help out there, I wouldn’t even know where to start.
5. Those Christmas Day uniforms continued the trend of the sleeved jersey takeover of the NBA. The Grizzlies are among the survivors so far, but it seems inevitable in the near future. How do you feel about the sleeves?
Lee: I don’t like ‘em. But guess what? Get used to them. I’d been trying to figure out why the league has been pushing them over the past couple of seasons. Then I remembered a story a few years ago that the league was going to explore putting ads/corporate sponsors on uniforms, for the additional revenue. Couldn’t imagine them on the classic sleeveless jerseys. Can’t imagine them NOT being on these glorified t-shirts. Hey, a league’s gotta get that paper, man.
Josh: Picture one of those sleeved jerseys on Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol. Enough said.
Phillip: I’m not a fan of them. They just look like they’re still in warm-ups. The reason for this is jersey sales are at the lowest in five years and the NBA needed to come up with a new way to sell jerseys. Also I feel people don’t wear tank tops to games. The NBA has asked every team if they would interested in selling the sleeved jerseys and I’ve heard the Grizzlies said no. If they’re not a fan then I’m not either. I am curious if the players would want to wear them.
Antonia: Burn them all.
Steve: I hated the idea last year, but sleeves are coming and there’s no use fighting it. The ad revenue to come from putting patches on the sleeves will far exceed the financial hit of ticked off fans. I do however hold out hope that they don’t go full Christmas on us in the future and rock the logos on front with the numbers on the sleeve. I guess that’s where I draw the line.
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!