MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s been business as usual for the Memphis Grizzlies. All the right things are being said by the players, coaches and management.
Coach Dave Joerger says he is willing to try new things with the offense that won’t cause the defense to suffer. He doesn’t want the team identity to change much.
On the young guys, Joerger said, “When you look on the bench and you need a spark, I think Russ Smith is a guy that can do that. Jordan Adams and Russ Smith have got to stay ready.”
The Core Four
Marc Gasol can arguably be declared the best center in the league (sorry Boogie). He’s the Grizzlies’ legit star. Coming off his best season, Gasol believes there’s a championship to be won in Memphis.
Zach Randolph‘s golden years may have passed but he’s still a force. Randolph still is a double-double machine and some nights he still can be First Name 20, Last Name 10. Although, he’s no longer the first-man offense, he’s still the best rebounder on the team. Randolph insists that he hasn’t lost a step. He said, “My approach is going to be whatever I need to do to help this team out. I’m still in my prime”
Mike Conley, or as his teammates call him, “The Floor General,” has become well-known after last year’s mask game against the NBA champs, the Golden State Warriors. When asked about last season, he responded, “It’s easy to look at last season and use injuries as an excuse. But in the Western Conference you’ve got to have some luck. And last season we were just unlucky. A whole bunch of things didn’t go our way.”
Mr. First Team All Defense, Tony Allen, aka “The Grindfather,” is still one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. His tenaciousness causes chaos and havoc to plenty of offenses. He still has a bad taste in his mouth after last season’s second-round defeat. Allen said, “We had the world last year. You take away those injuries and who knows what would have happened? We’re never discouraged. We feel we can win on any given night.”
The Other Guys
Courtney Lee profoundly proclaimed: “This is the year of the bear.”
When asked about the three point shooting, Lee responded, “You can respond to the changing league by trying to match it or you can keep pounding it down low. We’ll let the coaches make those decisions.”
Jeff Green believes a full training camp with the team with help him this year. He said, “I think I can be a lot better with a training camp. You can ask any player in the league, it’s tough to come in mid-season without a training camp and perform.”
Matt Barnes adamantly said: “I know that 3-point shooting is something that this team has lacked in the past and I’ve been able to shoot the three fairly well throughout my career. I’m going to bring that to this team. To come to a city that embraces you is exciting. The welcoming I’ve had is something that I didn’t expect.”
The Grizzlies’ other new addition, Brandan Wright, knows the team very well and said, “I know what they want me to do and me fitting in shouldn’t be a problem at all.”
Beno Udrih is still recovering from off-season surgery. Udrih has confidence in his fellow bench players. He reiterated, “Any team that wins championships … it’s because of the bench. Not just the starters.”
1). How well will the Grizzlies adapt to the changing league and its emphasis on small ball and 3-point shooting?
2). Will Courtney Lee become an integral part of the offense? And how well can he adjust to his role being more active in the offense and not being afraid to shoot?
3). How will Joerger and staff utilize Jordan Adams, Russ Smith and JaMychal Green off the bench?
4). How well will Barnes and Wright adapt not only to the style of play, but also to the culture of the team?
5). Is the window closing for the Grizzlies to be a championship caliber team?
The Grizzlies are participating in training camp this week on the campus of the University of California-Santa Barbara.
Sharon Brown covers the Grizzlies for Amico Hoops. Twitter: @foxxyshyd.