It's official. I've hinted at it. Wallace has hinted at it. Coach Hollins has hinted at it. But today Hollins made the commitment; the Grizzlies are going all Nellieball this season.
In an interview with Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal, Coach Hollins explained his choice:
"It's the way I saw the game as a player," Hollins said. "Every team I played on averaged more than 100 points. I know the league was different then but it's more fun to play that way. Players love to get up and down the court. And when you move the ball, and not rely on one or two guys, everybody has to step up and play to their maximum ability every night."
More of the offensive article over the jump, as well as my unbridled joy.
Ever since the statistical analysis of usage rates, I've been subtly hinting at the fact that the Grizzlies have one way to make all their scorers happy. Instead of having to complete adjust one or two of the starters' attitudes and style, the Grizzlies could let them all decrease their usage while keeping the same number of shots.
By turning up the tempo the Grizzlies will be able to compensate for their devil-may-care defense, capitalize on their young legs, and let their scorers do what they do best. With this offensive mindset, these Grizzlies are better than the Iavaroni team last season. They didn't even need to change their roster--even though they did--to improve. The Grizzlies are now capitalizing on their strengths, not trying to reshape them.
Consider this piece I wrote for FreeDarko a few months ago:
Considering how few teams played with a style asymmetrical to league trends last season, I count 8 (Knicks, 76ers, Magic, Pacers, Rockets [without Yao], Nuggets, Warriors, Suns), isn't it modestly impressive that half made the playoffs, none were embarrassed, and two made the Conference Finals? If you play the percentages, teams who employ unique strategies to maximize their advantages actually tend to be competitors more often. Now remember that the Suns would probably still be in the Conference Finals picture too if it weren't for their owner's shameful identity crisis.
And to those of you who will make sure to remind me that up-tempo teams don't play defense, consider:
As far as fast pace equaling a lack of defense, Denver was 6th in the league in defensive efficiency despite missing Kenyon Martin for much of the season, much better than even moribund grinders like the Spurs and Trailblazers. Anyone who watched the Denver's playoff losses recognized they lost due to late game offensive blunders, not defense.
The article also noted that Hollins is putting an emphasis on the offense being an equal opportunity, shoot-if-you're-open affair. While this might seem to be problematic with non-passers like Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph around, other teams have definitely had success. Players are more likely to pass when they're not open if they know next possession they can shoot instead of making the extra pass.
Again this is probably the best news I've heard out of camp this year. Many pats on Coach Hollins's back for this one.
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