When: Sunday, October 13th, 5:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Memphis trotted out an “interesting” representation of Grizzlies basketball in the preseason home opener on Wednesday night, but hey… it’s preseason, right? Absent from the court for the second straight game were familiar faces Marc Gasol, Quincy Pondexter, Tayshaun Prince, and Tony Allen, while Marc’s new backup Kosta Koufos took a seat as well. The result, was basically the instantly fabled “Vomit Basketball” that Coach Joerger spoke about in his introductory presser. The Grizz turned the ball over 17 times to match just 18 assists, and connected on just 2 of 20 attempts from downtown. Still, somehow, the deep reserves pushed forth in the fourth with a 26-16 surge, but couldn’t quite bridge the gap as they fell to the Mavs by 5. While I don’t expect the blue bears to hit regular season form any time in the too near future, I can’t see them becoming just the second team (see Minnesota — but CSKA Moscow is pretty good) to fall to a non-NBA opponent this preseason.
Maccabi will set foot on the Grindhouse floor tonight. Hailing from the Israeli Premier League, Maccabi tipped off it’s friendly play against the NBA by getting blown out by Phoenix, and walloped in Detroit. In case you are wondering what the deal is with the picture above, it features the most familiar player on the Maccabi roster, Sherwood Brown, guarding our own Jamaal Franklin in the opening weekend of March Madness. Interaction between the two garnered some attention after their round of 32 showdown, as Franklin was reportedly quite graceful in his defeat. You may remember Brown as the guy who led Florida Gulf Coast in its Cinderella run to the Sweet 16, but he could not ride the momentum onto an NBA roster. Aside from Brown, the Maccabi roster also contains once-upon-a-time NBA-er Donta Smith, who spent a portion of the 2004-05 season with the Atlanta Hawks.
Be sure to keep tabs on:
– Lightning Leuer. Don’t know why I call him that — alliterations are way overrated — but his play in the past two games has been a refreshing watch, as it was the main thing I was looking forward to in the Vegas Summer League before hearing that he’d sit it out. Thus far, I’d liken him to some shade of Golden State’s David Lee for his active involvement in the high pick and pop game. He appears to be very comfortable as an intermediary between point guard initiation and the ball getting to our big, and when the defense sags he can sink the 20-footer. Both of which are integral pieces of the Grizzlies’ gameplan. Last time out he dropped a solid 17-10-5 line. His low ceiling, especially on the defensive end, is likely to limit him to garbage duty when the regular season rolls around, but either on rest days or in the unfortunate event of injury to those above him in the rotation, he’s a nice asset to have in the arsenal at the low end of the roster.
– Shooting woes. Yeah, it’s the preseason, but at no point is it encouraging when open looks are just flying awry. The guards have generally done a good job thus far of creating opportunities from the perimeter, but nobody — themselves included — has been able to capitalize on the looks. It’s beyond premature to hit the alarm on the situation just yet, but it concern may arise that the fusion of grit ‘n’ grind defense with a highly active offense leaves little room for fresh-enough legs to steer clear of jumpers coming up a bit short. Considering that we really haven’t seen the patented grit ‘n’ grind D debut yet this year (Coach Joerger said that we basically gave the Mavs whatever they wanted), the phrase “a bit short” might ultimately become a bit generous when the games start to matter.
– The rookies. 1: Nick Calathes. The last bullet talked about guards opening up scoring opportunities on the offensive, and “Wiz Calathes” has had a major hand in that department. He’s gotten roasted a few times on defense, but his facilitation game is polished in a way that we haven’t seen behind Mike Conley, well, ever. When the two were on the floor together, it was even prettier. On one specific play, Conley sent a beautiful entry pass Nick’s way, but he couldn’t finish the layup. When the team hits stride, those go in.
– The rookies. 2: Jamaal Franklin. He looked tentative early on — doing that “pre-last season Quincy Pondexter” pump fake out of open threes in favor of dribbling into traffic, but in the later going he settled in and put up a pretty sound 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Caught up in the “Grindson” frenzy, we lost touch with the fact that Franklin was a renaissance man at San Diego State and not a defensive specialist. He led his team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals in his junior year. If I had to be pedantic, my only concern would be about his set jumper, in that he’s generously listed at 6’5 and hardly leaves his feet to let it fly. However, he won’t be asked to create much offense on his own in his rookie year, so the majority of his looks won’t necessarily be over a defender. Give the kid some time to get his swagger going and I think we’ve got a real fan favorite in the making.