Well, watching Jeremy Evans dunk two basketballs was cool-but it’s back to thinking and writing about the Griz.
Here’s the second part of our midseason grades for the Grizzlies….
Mayo’s season has been, like his other seasons up to this point, a rollercoaster. Scoring, up and down. Playmaking and turnovers, up and down. Two things, though, have stood out over all else regarding Juice’s season thus far:
-He’s embraced his role. The thing that’s benefited most from this? Oddly, his defense. Much more of a ballhawk, although he’s still had some struggles clearing screens, especially under the hoop, allowing some corner threes and/or cuts for his man. Overall, though, his steals and awareness, especially on the perimeter, has changed for the better, and it should-we mustn’t forget that OJ is in a contract year.
-OJ MAYO IS NOT A POINT GUARD. Well, until this season. How badly must things have been going at backup PG for Hollins to finally go back on that statement? Pargo and Selby bad (more on them later, of course). How has OJ fared? Honestly, not bad. Not bad at all. Not cringe-worthy, but he’s not gonna be renamed Magic Stockton Mayo anytime soon, either. He hasn’t tried to do too much at PG, which is nice, and I’m sure is what Hollins has told him to do. Following directions from the coach=many MPG. He’s been sorta forced into the PG role.
Grade: B+. Trend: continued rollercoaster, since he’ll likely not be traded.
-Jeremy Pargo. Oooooof. Started out with a bang and has been whimpering for a while now, with occasional flashes of goodness and competence. There has been no member of this season’s Grizzly team who has caused Hollins more hair-tearing episodes than Pargo. He has talent, no doubt about that, and he has the tools to be a great defender (and to his credit, has shown those tools on occasion)-but his ability to control the offense has been distinctly unsatisfactory. Dribble, dribble, weird or bad shot by Pargo or whoever is standing closest to him, clank. It was said that when he left Israel, that he had a distinct promise from an NBA team, and a guaranteed contract, offered during training camp, tells us which team made said promise. He played in college, and he played professionally overseas (at a high level)-can we expect much more from Pargo? We can hope, or there will be even more criticism of the trade that brought in our next player.
Grade: C-. Trend: get it together or ride the pine, especially in terms of orchestrating the offense.
-Quincy Pondexter. He’s an able-bodied wing who was brought in as return for Vasquez, likely with the idea in mind that he could be our “new Battier”. And, to his credit, he’s shown flashes of that. A well-timed excellent defensive possession, a steal, even a corner three or two (but not enough)….but only a faint shadow thus far. Seems like a guy West would have liked-four years playing college ball, good fundamentals, good length, and some versatility. Qunicy’s problems thus far arise from his helterskelterness on offense, sometimes with the ball, but mostly without. His being out of place is what leads to most of his “right place right time” garbage buckets. There have been times where one could have asked…why did we bring this guy in? We had a guy who plays like this all the time, named…Sam Young.
Grade: B-. Trend: Must keep himself in place on offense to continue getting minutes.
-Sam Young. Mysterious, this visit to the doghouse is. Stale, the shot fake has become. Speak like Yoda, I am. (snaps out of it). This thing with Young is weird. All of us by now have figured out that helping off James Harden in that triple OT game is what got Greivis shipped out, with a supposed upgrade to Young coming back in the deal. Sam Young has been the one to lose game time, and one must wonder why. Has Pondexter been enough of an upgrade over Young to make it worth the deal? Both four-year players at good programs, both fairly versatile wings (with Young even playing some “bizarro 4” in stretches). We haven’t really seen enough of Young on court this year to assess whether he has been able to rectify his faults from previous seasons. Recently, he’s been down with a rather nasty ankle sprain, so with QPon hitting a rough patch, perhaps we’ll see Young more after the break.
Grade: incomplete. Trend: Will he be traded for “nothing” in a salary dump? Will he compete for minutes with Pondexter?
-Hamed Haddadi. “Cult favorite” who could likely lead the world in rebounds-per-36 if he could qualify. Two things will prevent him from qualifying: 1) he plays behind the most versatile offensive center in the NBA, and 2) he’d foul out of most games if given adequate minutes to qualify. Haddadi, however, is not without value-he’s huge, and can give the team anywhere from 6-12 minutes of decent time per game. Classic “stay as close as you can to the hoop for 2.9 seconds at a time” big man, and Haddadi has gotten somewhat smarter about keeping the ball high, and being aware of his PG to make a quick pass, since “good handles for a big man” is NEVER going to be uttered by someone referring to him. A big man of limited usefulness, but with the dearth of quality big men (who would play for next to nothing), he was a viable option. His visa issues to start the season almost derailed it before it started, though.
Grade: B+. Trend: cult hero status continues, limited-but-sometimes-productive minutes continue.
-Josh Selby. Talented, but to call him “raw” as a player would be a gross understatement. Mr. Selby has somewhat become the team’s newest iteration of “Javarence Kinseyton” (I’ll claim “credit” for the advent of that term), with many fans thinking he’s the answer at PG. Selby has a tremendous level of athletic ability, and in terms of pure quickness, at least rivals Conley-but we all must remember that he played only a few games in college, and is in no way ready to contribute to an NBA playoff-worthy team. His ability to score will likely be his calling card in the NBA, and that is valuable-but his ability to run an offense and play in control of himself must improve. He’s been sent to the D-League, and Selby is a perfect example of why it exists.
Grade: Incomplete. Trend: Will RULE D-League, and will be called up in case of injury, or perhaps if Pargo’s poor play continues.
-Zach Randolph. We just don’t know….yet. Will his increased fitness and dialed-in conditioning from last summer help him to recover and reintegrate more quickly when he returns from injury? We can hope, but we do not yet know. Soon, fellow Griz fans. Soon.
Grade: Incomplete. Trend: Hopefully, soon breaking down fools on the block.
-Darrell Arthur. Such a shame that such a talented, hardworking player has had such long stretches of his career marred by injury. With any luck (and Wallace wants him back for sure), we’ll see him continue to improve next season in a Grizzlies uniform.
Grade: None, excused absence.
-Josh Davis. Hard worker, and a guy who impressed fans by diving to the floor for some loose balls in a preseason game. Just not quite enough NBA juice there though.
Will the Grizzlies keep it together enough to make the playoffs?
Will ZBo be able to stay on the court?
Will the minutes wear down Marc and Mike?
Will Rudy get all the way out of his own head?
Will the backup PG position be rectified?
Will I remember to pick up some pistachios at Costco later?
All burning questions….