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Midterms: Evaluating the End of the Bench

As opposed to writing one gigantic post chronicling the Grizzlies entire first-half, I'm splitting it down into a bunch of more specific posts. We'll be moving up by the size of the given players's role, starting with this post on the very end of the bench and ending with five posts on the five starters.

The end of the bench, my best euphemism for 'bench warmers,' includes Hamed Haddadi, and Steven Hunter. Each has had their good times, but they all have their problems that keep them from the court.

So while it's not easy to evaluate their overall performance, given the lack of minutes, but we'll give it a go over the jump anyhow.

Steven Hunter is probably the least interesting player of the bunch. Despite not being that old (28), at this point in his career Hunter is essentially a very poor man's Antonio McDyess. He can step out and hit mid-range jumpers and has solid defensive fundamentals, but has very little inside game. In other words he's not really a great fit for the Grizzlies new identity as a team of inside bangers.

For that reason Hunter hasn't seen much time, playing in under half of the Grizzlies' games this season. 

He hasn't even played well by his own standards, posting an 11.8 PER, which is well below his career average of 13.0. This drop is mostly because of his abysmal 39% shooting percentage, which is low even for a big who gets most of his points on jumpers. But Hunter has gotten into the game in 3 out of the Grizzlies last 4, mostly because he's the only Grizzlies big on the bench who defends without fouling -- and that whole blowout thing.

Given the low expectation's Grizzlies fans had for Hunter going into the season, though, it's hard to judge him tough. His real value is he 1st round pick that the Nuggets traded the Grizz to take on the final year of his contract.

Midterm Grade: C

Hamed Haddadi is the Grizzlies other 7 footer who barely gets off the bench. Unlike Steven Hunter, Grizzlies fans had serious expectations for the Iranian center.

Haddadi has some very real basketball skills. When Yao Ming is injured, he's won FIBA's Asian Player of the Year in the tournament every season. Grizz fans have seen his raw talent: Hamed has no problems making nifty passes or doing the dirty work by rebounding and blocking shots.

This season he's barely hit the court, though, because #2 draft pick Hasheem Thabeet has eaten up all the backup center minutes.

It would be senseless to quote any advanced statistics in just 62 minutes of play, but looking over the gamelog chart it's clear that Hamed has hardly demanded extra minutes with his play. When he's gotten in he's mostly fouled, done a little rebounding, and has barely even altered a single shot.

As long as Thabeet's around. it's not like even fantastic play would really help the team. It would certainly boost his trade value, which honestly is about the last thing Hamed has to give to Memphis.

Midterm Grade: D