9 Memphis Grizzlies Memo to a deep but callow team aiming to move up: Be like Mike

October 27, 2003

A native of Mitchell, S.Dak., small forward Mike Miller played
his high school games in the Corn Palace, a 3,500-seat
amphitheater whose exterior murals are made from 300,000 ears of
maize. While the arena is popular with tourists traveling on
I-90, it is also a favorite haunt of the local fauna. "Don't get
me wrong, it's a cool place," says Miller, "but it seems like
there are always birds and rodents eating the outside."

That said, the 6'9" Miller might not deem gym rat a term of
endearment. Still, how else to describe Miller, who spent most of
the summer wearing a second skin of sweat as he worked out
frenetically at Tracy McGrady's place in Orlando and at Rhodes
College in Memphis, where the Grizzlies practice? Sometimes
logging three practice sessions a day, Miller alternated among
shooting all manner of jumpers, working on his ball-handling
skills and developing a repertoire of low-post moves. He did take
a week off to get married, but even while on his honeymoon in the
Bahamas he played pickup at the Atlantis resort. "Once the season
starts," says Miller, the 2000-01 Rookie of the Year, "there's
not much time to work on your game."

He learned that last season. Traded from Orlando to Memphis in
February, Miller had to adjust on the fly to a different system,
a different set of teammates and a vastly different coaching
style. Miller performed well enough in the first 16 games he
played for the Grizzlies to earn a six-year extension for a
reported $48 million, but he sat out 14 dates with back spasms.
Healthy, if not rested, he harbors high expectations for the new
season. "I'm looking to create for my teammates," he says. "We're
going to put up a lot of points and, I think, surprise a lot of
people." --L.J.W.

COLOR PHOTO: JOE MURPHY/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES Mike Miller

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Grizzlies

"This is an example of how you build a franchise. The Grizzlies
have a lot of young assets who will not only help them move up in
the standings this year but also can be traded if Jerry West
decides to go in a different direction.... You'll see their
defense improve after a full training camp with Hubie Brown, who
was brought in after an 0-8 start and led them to a club-record
28 wins. A lot of coaches don't want to risk making a bad
situation worse by demanding a lot from players when things are
going south, but Hubie confronts guys and expects that they show
improvement. And the way they played last year illustrated the
benefits of his approach.... Jason Williams responded by
finishing tied for second in the league in assists. He still
needs to focus on completing the simplest plays--rather than the
glitziest--and on game management, which means knowing when to
risk the pull-up three in transition.... James Posey can defend
the one, two or three positions, and he'll be really effective in
the open court with Williams pushing the ball.... It looks like
the plan is to build around their young scorers Pau Gasol and
Mike Miller. Gasol has shown resiliency in the paint against the
bigger, stronger guys in the West, but he is still maturing. The
arrival of center Jake Tsakalidis will take some of the physical
burden off him. Miller can do a lot of things offensively and is
becoming a better defender.... Memphis will be a tough opponent,
because the team's deep enough to play hard for 48 minutes. Earl
Watson is one of the best backup point guards in the league,
Wesley Person gives them perimeter shooting, and Bo Outlaw fits
in with Hubie's ball-pressuring style. Then there's Shane
Battier, who's smart and does a lot of things well. He may never
be an All-Star, but good teams need guys like him."

FAST FACT

Jason Williams led all starters with an assists-to-turnover ratio
of 3.76 to 1, a year after he ranked 25th among starters (2.43 to 1).

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
with 2002-03 statistics

Record: 28-54 (12th in West)
Points scored: 97.5 (8th in NBA)
Points allowed: 100.7 (27th)
Coach: Hubie Brown(second season with Grizzlies)

[1]JAKE TSAKALIDIS

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG BPG SPG FG% FT%
C 147 4.9 3.7 0.4 0.52 0.18 45.2 67.2

[1]JAMES POSEY

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
SF 125 10.8 5.1 2.2 1.28 41.1 30.6 83.3

JASON WILLIAMS

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
PG 77 12.1 2.8 8.3 1.20 38.8 35.4 84.0

MIKE MILLER

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3 FG% FT%
SG 71 15.6 5.2 2.6 0.65 43.4 36.3 83.9

PAU GASOL

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG BPG SPG FG% FT%
PF 24 19.0 8.8 2.8 1.80 0.41 51.0 73.6

BENCH PVR* 2002-03 KEY STATS

F-G SHANE
BATTIER 127 9.7 ppg 4.4 rpg 1.13 bpg 1.31 spg 48.3 FG%
F-C LORENZEN
WRIGHT 132 11.4 ppg 7.5 rpg 0.77 bpg 45.4 FG% 65.9 FT%
F-G WESLEY
PERSON 139 11.0 ppg 1.7 apg 0.64 spg 45.6 FG% 43.3 3FG%
F-C STROMILE
SWIFT 209 9.7 ppg 5.7 rpg 1.55 bpg 0.82 spg 48.1 FG%
G EARL
WATSON 237 5.5 ppg 2.1 rpg 2.8 apg 1.13 spg 43.5 FG%

NEW ACQUISITION[1]
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 94)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)