Heading into tonight's sure-to-be-thrilling match with the Grizzlies, 3 Shades of Blue and I exchanged questions. Here is a bit of Grizz commentary from 3SoB's Chip:
3Sob: Kyle is the #2 PG and getting to play about half the game. He is a momentum changing PG who can really spark the team when it is flat. JCrit is clearly more of a SG than a PG in mentality. Sort of a Leandrho Barbosa without the outside shot right now. I don't think there is currently a problem with the three of them but that could change in the draft. JCrit has definitely got the goods to be an exciting back up SG but that is the role Navarro is supposed to play. I expect someone to be moved and most likely it will be Lowry but right now the competition is wide open.
StR: Tell me about Hakim Warrick.
3SoB: Hakim is an ideal bench player. He isn't good on defense but can score from 20 ft in, can rebound and is exciting around the basket. Unfortunately Hakim is starting for the Grizzlies and that means the team has to cover up for his weaknesses on defense. Memphis plays more zone defense than any time I can remember in the NBA. The team plays zone because Hakim can't guard anyone man on man (in his defense he isn't alone in that regard, just the most egregious). Hakim isn't going to learn how to play defense now that he is 25 either. The sad thing is that Hakim's defense isn't his worst skill. Hak is probably the worst passer in the NBA today. People in Memphis make bets on how many times he will pass the ball in the offensive side of the court including throw ins during a game. The over/under line is usually around 5.5 a game. That's not assists either. Just passing the ball to a teammate without a turnover occurring. Since he waited until his senior year to turn pro he really doesn't have much upside but what you have is a 17 and 7 player as a starter who shoots over 50% from the field and gives great effort plus he is a good attitude player. If you bench him he won't complain. When he is taken out he won't complain. When he makes mistakes he listens and tries to do better. He is that rare athlete today that seems to be happy to be playing in the NBA and would play even if he wasn't being paid.
StR: Any early thoughts on Marc Iavaroni as a head coach? He came in with a lot of attention but hasn't earned much ink this year.
3SoB: That is a great question. I just wrote a blog today about how the Grizzlies have come out of halftimes. In the last 5 games they have had the halftime lead three times (twice more than 13 points) and lost two of the three games. The one game they won was against New York and they led by 19 at halftime before the Knicks cut the lead to one point midway thru the 3rd quarter. Conversely they have been trailing at halftime twice in the last 5 games and won both of those games. So is it poor coaching or poor execution? At this point we don't know. One thing is for sure, the team Iavaroni inherited was not the team he wants to play his style of game. Trading Gasol may have looked bad at first but the team is starting to run the way Iavaroni likes and is starting to get comfortable with his schemes, something the team never was able to do with Gasol and Milicic in the lineup. I think Iavaroni, given the right pieces can be a good coach but I am not sure he deserved all the publicity he received neither last summer nor all of the criticism he is getting this season. The Grizzlies were bad before he got here and he hasn't changed that but the team needs to change to fit his needs. Memphis needs more outside shooting, better passing and better rebounding players. The team is being transferred from the Fratello slow ball style ot Iavaroni's up tempo style. It will take a few years and this summer will be crucial to that transformation but I think Iavaroni's positive attitude and teaching manner is going to work out here.
Thanks for the comments, Chip. And you can find the versa to this vice over at 3 Shades.