Nick Calathes hasn't lived up to the expectations the Memphis Grizzlies put on him for the 2013-14 season, and that should be a near-universal fact at this point. We were aware of his shooting deficiencies before he arrived in Memphis, but that issue was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems encountered by Calathes in the NBA.
Although he's listed at 6'6, 213 lbs, I find that when watching Calathes he appears to play much smaller than the man he's spelling, Mike Conley (6'1, 185 lbs). If it's not a lack of strength then it's a complete lack of confidence or an overwhelming level of intimidation. Nick's lateral agility and speed are always being picked on by opposing defenders, sometimes leading to the patented-1,000 dribble-possessions that result in a turnover or a very poor shot as the clock expires. From watching the first two months of the season, it just looks like Calathes is overmatched against most NBA players.
The physical shortcomings of Calathes also hinder his greatest skill, that of passing and setting up teammates for easy scores. I actually don't doubt that Nick is able to see the plays that should be executed; he's even able to conjure up angles and passing lanes that should not be executed by conventional means. The big speed bump comes with his physical adjustment to the NBA. The players he's up against are faster and stronger than their European counterparts, and that cross-court-over-the-shoulder-swing pass that is sometimes flung over the key like a lob pitch in a coed softball league is just easy pickings for your average NBA player.
It's the reason why Mike Conley has spent years building his physique and strengthening his upper body - the rigors of the NBA require you to be an elite athlete in many circumstances, and Nick Calathes just isn't there yet. I'm sure a couple of offseasons with the Grizzlies could transform Calathes into a serviceable player, but that notion does little to ease the frustrations that the fanbase is enduring so far this season.
But here's the question: is it Nick Calathes' fault that he appears and plays as like he's an NBA rookie? Of course not - he is a rookie. Calathes is performing like 99% of other rookies have performed during their first season in the NBA. If there's fault to be had here, it falls on the people that thought Nick would be able to translate into the NBA with just a few months of preparation.
And I get it - I know that the injuries suffered this season have interrupted the Front Office's plan of acclimating Calathes under the prescribed conditions. But that's part of my beef. After seasons and years of starving for a steady, consistent hand at backup PG, the new ownership hitched their wagon to the idea of needing a perfect, hiccough-less scenario for a Euro-transfer to become a functioning player in the most competitive basketball league in the world.
Was this arrogance, naivety or a combination of both? I lean towards answering "no" to all of those - I think these guys operate soundly in the realm of reality. I think this decision by the Grizzlies was probably a very calculated risk for which the Front Office didn't completely estimate all the potential obstacles. After missing out on Mo Williams in the offseason (tear drop), the Grizzlies were left with few options that would have been an upgrade over their previous seasons' solution for backup PG. I'm sure Jason Levien looked to John and the Machine to make the most of the situation. So they ventured out to find a risk/reward-high-ceiling-low-floor option to bolster the position for the 2013-14 season and beyond and plucked Nick Calathes out of Greece based on their forecasts for his development.
The Grizzlies must have forgotten a few metric to imperical conversions, however, because Murphy's Law has decided to throw Calathes straight into the fire and he's showing that his NBA skills still need a good deal of tempering.
The Grizzlies Braintrust (that would be Pera/Levien/Hollinger/Wallace/Lash/Joerger) has put the team in this problematic situation, and I look to them, not Nick Calathes, for the answers and solutions.
Win a free Memphis Grizzlies replica jersey of your choice by playing the Grind Prophecies!
The Grindmaster for last edition (vs Spurs) was Mike Conley.
- Game Score and Winner (correct predictions receive 3 points, if no correct predictions, 1 point awarded to member(s) with closest differential)
- The Grindmaster (3 points awarded to correct predictions; if Grindmaster title is split between 2 or more players, 2 points go to each member who predicted one of those players)
- Total combined number of points and assists for Nick Calathes (3 points awarded to correct predictions; 1 point awarded to the member(s) closest without going over)
- True or False: Mike Conley will have the most playing time of any Grizzly. (3 points awarded to correct predictions; 0 points awarded to incorrect answers)
- Douse 'Em Again: Grizzlies and Suns Meet for Second Time in a Week
- James Johnson interview on The Chris Vernon Show
- Hypothetical: What if The Memphis Grizzlies sent Nick Calathes to the D-League?
- Memphis Grizzlies Profile on James Johnson: Thing-Happener
- Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach Dave Joerger Approval Poll