The Return of ForeignFlopper, Revisiting the Rudy Gay Trade, and Looking Ahead to the Draft

Editor's Note: I picked this picture. Because I <3 former Griz Juan Carlos Navarro. - Christian Petersen

So, um, hi everyone.

So back when this blog was known by another name and led by an equally awesome though less geographically well-situated leader, I used to be a contributing writer who went by ForeignFlopper. Granted, this was only a year ago, but both SB Nation and this particular community have grown by leaps and bounds since then, so it feels longer. Regardless, if you were around during the Straight Outta Vancouver days, you may remember some of my posts, which ranged in quality from “irrelevant” to “Oh my god, this was an absolute waste of my time.” If you missed them, well, consider yourself fortunate.

I decided to take this past season off from basketball due somewhat to time constraints in my personal life, but more because the future looked bleak for fans of other anyone other than the Lakers and the Heat. As it turned out, my fears were unfounded and the NBA has demonstrated that it really is the most exciting and entertaining product in the entire world (trust me, I’ve spent the past year watching soccer football and hockey. If you think the Lakers are inevitable, then you haven’t yet been subjected to Manchester United).

Anyway, now I’m back for good, or at least until this burgeoning Grizzlies community runs me out of town with pitchforks and torches, and even then I might creep back in.

Even in the Western Conference Finals, We’re Still Haunted by the Ghost of Rudy’s Past

Over on the mothersite, Tom Ziller posted a rebuttal of an article by ESPN’s Scoop Jackson which argued that trading Rudy Gay had cost Memphis the Western Conference Finals. On the one hand, Ziller is up to his usual standard of excellence in the way in which he dissects and rips apart Jackson’s arguments. Yet, as solid as the article is, it’s also kind of unnecessarily because this argument has been debunked so many times that it’s no longer even worth the effort. That being said, I’m going to weigh in anyway.

Some of you will probably remember that back on Straight Outta Vancouver, I was Rudy’s biggest apologist cheerleader supporter. I once compared him to Superman and the film Deep Blue Sea–the highest praise–while Kevin more realistically compared him to Lindsey Buckingham’s solo career and The Watchmen (the film, not the comic). I mention this because I think, more than anything else, it emphasizes my point: Rudy Gay was my favorite Grizzly and even I thought he needed to be traded. I don’t want to regurgitate all of the statistical that demonstrate this was an overwhelming good trade for the Grizzlies, but, to summarize, his scoring wasn’t what you could call “efficient” and his peripheral attributes—rebounding, defense, etc.—weren’t strong enough to offset that, but, again, all of you know this already.

Being something of an analytics person myself, my love of Rudy was something of a contradiction, but I’ll freely admit that it was entirely based on leftover sentiment from the 2007–08 season, when he seized the reigns of the team from Pau Gasol and never looked back. That year he truly looked the part of the emerging young superstar, but sometime during the summer of 2008 that hungry young star was replaced by a more complacent and lethargic one. Obviously, Rudy still possesses the physical capabilities to become a true superstar, but as anyone who has followed the careers of Vince Carter or Tracy McGrady can tell you, having the potential for greatness is not the same as realizing your greatness. To be fair to Scoop Jackson, this doesn’t matter when your only knowledge of a player comes from his highlight reels.

Christmas in June

Many of you will probably abandon the NBA now that the Grizzlies have been knocked out of the playoffs, but you really shouldn’t (I need the page views) because the NBA Draft is not far away. I refer to the draft as “Christmas in June” because it’s my favorite part of the NBA season. Regardless of the Grizzlies’ draft position, it’s fun to speculate which prospects are potential sleepers, who will be the biggest bust, or which players are the best fit for each team. Some of you may be deterred by the fact that this year Memphis has no first-round draft picks, but this only makes the draft more fun. Don’t forget that only two years ago David Kahn selected an unknown Qatari who wasn’t even eligible because he was 26-years-old. While I’m not suggesting that the Grizzlies travel down that route, I am saying that unexpected things happen all the time in the second round. Plus, it’s funny when a team selects a guy out of nowhere and ESPN has to scramble to find highlights.

For anyone who’s curious, I once wrote a FanPost about strategies for drafting in the second round. Furthermore, in the coming weeks, I’ll be providing draft profiles of some likely candidates. Once again, I’m glad to be back and thanks for putting up with me!

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