(1) Better Manage the Starters' Minutes
- Why it will happen: improved play and development of rotation players (Ed Davis, Pondexter, Bayless, Koufos), a coaching staff with a better understanding of our roster strengths and weaknesses, potentially viable backups at the PG and C position. And most of all, with the pace Joerger wants to run, there's no way Gasol can play 40+ min a game. We need our guys fresh come April.
- Why it may be difficult: a dependance on Nick Calathes transitioning to the NBA, having to find a solution to disguising Jerryd Bayless' possible flaws at the point position. Ed Davis could blossom, but his skill set will still be vastly different than that of Zach Randolph. Can someone else develop into a "garbage man" to relieve ZBo?
(2) Start Off Games Quickly & Consistently
- I believe Joerger's desire to play faster will correlate to this result. How many times last season did we look up at the scoreboard to see the Grizzlies down by 10+, 20+ points after the first quarter? My memory has me feeling like it was way too many. It made for exciting basketball, but the Grizzlies made themselves work a lot harder for some wins then they probably had to.
- Defensively, we can afford to give up an occasional 30 point 1st quarter to start the game, but we need to be able to counter that with our own 25-30 points more often. By pushing the ball faster, we give ourselves more time to find the best shot, therefore we're probably more like to get into a rhythm earlier in the game.
(3) Make Clutch Free Throws to Put Games Away
- The Slim: There were 4th quarters last season where the Grizzlies shot abysmally from the stripe. We saw them take care of these in the first two playoff series, only to let it expedite their demise in the WCF. I'm not saying that we didn't make our share to secure victories, but the only people I truly feel confident about hitting end-of-game FT's are Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless (with specific stink eye at ZBo).
- Reason to Believe: The Grizzlies have improved their overall team FT% each of the last 4 seasons, culminating in the 10th overall ranking last season (with there essentially being a 5-way-tie for 6th place. For a team that isn't known for scoring, I'll take a top 10 ranking in that category all day. But at the same time, as a team not known for putting up big points, every FT attempt is very valuable to us.
(4) Properly Avoid the Wrong Trade Distractions
- The biggest elephant in the room: will the Grizzlies have to trade a big name to proceed with their plans for the future? We can confidently say that the moves they made last year worked out for the longer run, but it's hard to argue that the distraction of trying to trade Rudy Gay didn't cost us a few games during the process. I'm all for improving our roster, but if that issue arises this season, I'd like to see a better handling of it so that our team doesn't fall apart for three weeks in January.
- I realize that trade rumors are hardly avoidable, and as a team teetering on the edge of luxury tax, I'm not going to be shocked when I start reading them. The goal from this front office should be a better consideration of the personalities that come up in those rumors. These are professional players, but these are also men, in many cases, that have a significant relationship with the city of Memphis. I can appreciate trying to bring attention to the team and the city, but at some point the ballyhooed auction-style rumor mill is going to be a turnoff to players and fans.