2013-14 Memphis Grizzlies Coaching Preview: Dave Joerger

No more goatee. - Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's note: Say hello to my good friend Clayton Martin from over at The Wise Guise. I appreciate him taking on this guest post and look forward to having him help out in the future.

As a Tennessee Volunteers football fan, I am far more accustomed to coaching changes than I would prefer. And the biggest thing I’ve learned from the Tennessee coaching carousel is that it’s really damn hard to replace a legend. But sometimes, management has to look to the future instead of the past and, as Michael Scott from The Office would say, "use your hindsight" when planning the next steps for an organization.

Where do the Grizzlies need to improve?

Four ways that Memphis can get better in 2013-14.

I think that’s exactly what the new Grizzlies ownership did when they elected to replace Lionel Hollins with Dave Joerger. I think they saw the talent base they had built and were expanding, and then they looked a few years down the line. What they likely saw was a quickly changing coaching landscape where the era of hard headed, authoritarian leadership-based head coaches no longer exists. Players now almost solely have the power in organizations (see: Dwight "Sir Whine-a-Lot" Howard) and so it is all that much more important to have a coach that is both capable of gaining the respect of the team as a whole and then communicating his vision. Obviously, Lionel Hollins is, and was, capable of winning games as an NBA head coach. But sometimes you have to follow the trends if you think that’s what’s best for the future.

So what expectations are fair for Dave Joerger in his first season as an NBA head coach? How will this team look different from last year’s franchise record-setting team? Can they possibly make it to the NBA Finals? Will Chris Vernon and Gary Parrish request a rematch against the Ribs? These are the questions everyone seems to be asking heading into this season.

I think the upside for Coach Joerger does outweigh the potential of keeping Lionel Hollins. I think he has said and done all the right things to start his tenure both on and off the court. I’m looking at you Jason Kidd. Basically by hiring someone who has worked with Coach Hollins for an extended period of time, management had to see it as getting all the coaching elements that you liked with Lionel without having to actually deal with Lionel.

I’ll follow Andrew Ford’s format from his player previews and break down my thoughts on Coach Joerger…

Expectations for 2013-14: This season, I think it is more than fair to expect the Grizzlies to win between 50-55 games like last season and make the Western Conference Finals. Obviously this is a team that is fully capable of extending their season to the NBA Finals, but to expect that in Coach Joerger’s first season is asking a bit much.

Areas to Improve: On the court, three point shooting and getting shots up quicker (generally) will have to be the main offensive focuses of Coach Joerger moving forward. The Grizzlies are going to have to find a way to stretch defenses to maximize the advantage of having Zach and Marc down low. It’s the same thing everyone has said for a couple years now but it has to happen to improve. Defensively, I think he will just be trying to maintain the status quo for the most part. Coach Joerger will also likely try to be friendlier with the media than Lionel Hollins. He will not necessarily be more involved with the public, but he will need to be friendlier with the public.

Areas of Concern: Working through lineups early in the year will be the main concern. The key will be figuring out what guys fit well together with the new additions to the roster as Coach Joerger has already stated that he isn’t a first five, next five type coach.

Best-Case Scenario: Best-case scenario would be 55-60 wins or so and a run at an NBA Championship.

Worst-Case Scenario: I really think that rock bottom for this team is being a 6 seed in the playoffs and getting bounced in the first or second round. I think that only happens in the event that we have some extended injury issues that hamper us.

Bottom line: When we all got the vibe that Lionel Hollins was on the outs, I don’t think many people outside of maybe the Joerger household were anxiously hoping that Dave Joerger would be his replacement. But the more we have seen and heard from the organization and from Joerger himself, the more confidence this fan base seems to be gaining that he could be the right man for the job. The hope is that Dave Joerger will be someone who can at least continue the franchise’s momentum at its current level and possibly even turn things up to eleven. I mean isn’t that ultimately what we’re asking Coach Joerger to do, turn a 10 franchise into an eleven?


Photo Credit: Jonny Stovall at

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