October 22, 2008
SI.com's NBA Enemy Lines
Memphis Grizzlies
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Grizzlies

If I were living in Memphis, it would be hard to say that I want to support the basketball team. I don't see any commitment to winning. I thought Minnesota did a great job taking Mike Miller off the Grizzlies' hands, with the result that the Timberwolves are one of the teams that got better. You can't give guys like that away. This might be the worst team in the league.

The key guy in that Miller trade was O.J. Mayo. The first time I saw him [in the summer league] I was a little bit disappointed -- I was expecting a better athlete. I don't see him becoming a real star. He plays smooth, like he's been in the league for a while, and I like that about him. But I don't see a whole lot of superior athleticism. In any case, it might be a year before he figures out who he's going to be in the league, and hopefully they don't put too much pressure on him to carry the team.

Rudy Gay looks like he's going to have a bright future. He's still a guy who is trying to discover himself in the league. He runs the floor really well, and he has a pretty good first step. He's a little streaky, but he can score in a variety of ways. Is he a future star? On a good team, that would mean he is the kind of player who makes his teammate better. He's too young yet to establish that part of his game.

I always thought of Marc Iavaroni as a good, prepared coach who was into it the entire game. It's a hard thing when you're dealt a hand like he has in Memphis. He demands a lot of himself and carries it over to the players, and they should see that coach is not giving up on us.

They have a mixed bag at point guard. My first impression is that Mike Conley looks like an ordinary small guard, but the truth is you can't judge that position after one year. Javaris Crittenton has good size and is a pretty good defender. But I wouldn't say he's a good shooter, and I don't know if he's a true point guard. Kyle Lowry is another small point guard, and I just think those guys have trouble. It's hard for guys his size, when they get into the paint, to see everything and make plays. Lowry is not a great shooter. If you're a bigger guard, you can guard a smaller guy who can't shoot -- you back off, and when he pulls up, you block or alter his shot.

I haven't seen a whole lot of willingness from Darko Milicic to compete every night, and that's the key to everything. Does he want to be a player in the league, or does he want to be a "potential guy"? I don't think it's necessarily the coach's responsibility to bring that out in him. Milicic's ineffectiveness should give more opportunities for Marc Gasol, a rookie with excellent length ...

I can't tell you what has happened to Antoine Walker the last few years. He is today a streaky, spot-up big man who can shoot threes. He has lost a lot in his game. He used to have just enough hops to get up high to score; now it seems like he's on the ground a lot. He is not a consistent shooter. So what do you do with him? The way this team is structured, I would doubt that he's going to get a lot of minutes while they're trying to develop their younger guys.

Hakim Warrick is an athletic, young big man who is going to have to develop more of a half-court game. He's a decent shooter who is better in the open court, but he needs to get stronger.

On a good playoff team, only three Grizzlies would be in the rotation: Gay, Warrick and Quinton Ross, for his defense and ability to make shots. Ross is a complementary player, but he's reliable. Down the road, they should develop Mayo to be that kind of player as well as Gasol, who looked OK in the Olympics.

The best thing going for the Grizzlies is that teams will overlook them and come out flat against them. They're probably playing for the No. 1 pick.


You May Like