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Who's Afraid of Tony Allen?

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This week: Is regional popularity important? Plus, everybody asks about Jordan Adams, and a reader reports back from the dark recesses of the soul (aka the 2009 NBA Draft).

pumpkins

GRIZZLIES WIN! That was so much better than the last 13 season openers! Now, all we have to do is take care of business tonight against Indiana, then win the next 96, parade the Larry O'Brien Trophy from Beale down to the old Pyramid where a reunited Three Six is playing "Tear Da Club Up," and burn it all down. Nice and tidy like.

A big thank you to everyone who wrote in! We got some amazing stuff that we couldn't include because this thing would never end, but don't despair if you don't see your submission; that doesn't mean I won't come back to it. In the meantime, let's keep this going. Email me at dwighthowardistheworst@gmail.com for all your Grizz needs. Enjoy the season and Happy Halloween, everybody!

Just so there's no confusion, these are real emails sent by actual readers. Some have been edited for length and clarity.

  • Bubba Chuck in Skullbone, TN writes:

Today is Halloween, so which Grizzlies player do you think would be most likely to appear in a horror film?

Nick Calathes. He could be the stand-in for an actor during those couple of seconds when a character is transforming from a person into a werewolf. When they're sort of in-between... like half-person, half-werewolf. I bet you thought I was gonna say Tony Allen, didn't you? SMH... Dude's a puppy dog, look at this face:

Tony Smile

Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports

The only horror movie Tony stars in plays at the multiplex inside James Harden's nightmares.

  • Johnnycakes in Memphis writes:

Was Tony Allen scared to play Robert Pera?

As in, because he might lose? FUNK DAT.

Seriously, that's absurd. Scared that he might end the life of the man who signs his checks? Possibly. I mean, have you ever seen Tony Allen before? Dude's a vicious, bloodthirsty pit bull.

Tony Scary

Photo Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Pera seems like a super sharp guy, and I'm generally pleased with how things turned out after our chaotic summer. But if there's one thing that gives credence to Jason Levien's shameless rumor-mongering following his ignominious ouster, it was that stupid one-on-one challenge. I'm willing to chalk it up as a cocky young billionaire being overly enthusiastic with his new toy, but if Pera starts claiming he can run regressions in his head faster than Hollinger's computer, we all need to start worrying.

  • Alex in Tallahassee writes:

What is Tony Allen's spirit animal? Because I want one.

The mongoose. You don't want a mongoose.

  • Parker in Nashville writes:

How scared should we be of the Pellies? And why the *&^% aren't we in the East???

VERY. My god, did you see the Brow's stat line on Tuesday? 26 points, 17 boards, 2 dimes, 3 steals, 9 blocks, and zero turnovers. JESUS. I think Marc must have seen that game before his onslaught on Wednesday night. Do y'all realize Dwight Howard may be the third-best center... in the Southwest Division?

There are some commenters and maybe a few GBB contributors who know who they are who've been trying to temper Anthony Davis hype around here and elsewhere lately. It's weird they haven't chimed in about this yet. All hype, huh guys?

So yea, we're playing in a division now that might send every team to the playoffs. This invariably leads back to the age-old question: Why oh why can't we be in the East? I've spent an inordinate amount of time over the past 5 years daydreaming about the Grizzlies playing in the Eastern Conference. Keeping with the Halloween theme, I'm going to tell you all a scary story (with spreadsheets!):

Season

Wins

Losses

Record

Western Conf. Winning %

Eastern Conf. Winning %

Adjusted Record

Actual Seed in the West

Unadjusted East seed

Adjusted East seed

2013-2014

50

32

50-32

56%

70%

53-29

7

3

3

2012-2013

56

26

56-26

65%

73%

58-24

5

2

2

2011-2012

41

25

41-25

54%

83%

50-16

4

4

T-1

2010-2011

46

36

46-36

58%

53%

45-37

8

5

5

2009-2010

40

42

40-42

42%

60%

44-38

Out

Out

T-7

So basically, the West is a nightmare and we're all living it. This chart shows what the Grizzlies record would have looked like if you applied their Eastern Conference winning percentage to the number of games they played in the West, and vice-versa to show an (admittedly crude) estimation of what their record and seeding would have been if they played in the East. The Unadjusted East seed column just shows where we would've fallen in the East based on our record as a Western Conference team. At least Toronto, Atlanta, Charlotte, and DC all look competitive this year because this East-West disparity is a joke. Speaking of scary hypotheticals...

  • John in Greenwich writes:

Gather round yon Grizz fans, and let me tell you the ghoulish tale of the 2009 NBA Draft, a tale that could have ended with a parade on Beale Street...

No, please, John, don't do this.

Twas a muggy night in New York City. And with the second pick, the Memphis Grizzlies selected Hasheem Thabeet instead of James Harden. (Note: or Stephen Curry)

You bastard.

The very next year, the Grizz lose to the Thunder in a 7-game slug fest... featuring a bravura performance by who else? JAMES HARDEN off the bench.  If we swapped picks with the Thunder in 2009, we would have been in the Conference Finals playing a Dallas team that was easily beatable with our lock down D.

This is you, John from Greenwich:

OJ Mayo would have backed up to Harden (coming off the bench where he belonged), so your starting five would have been: Harden, Gasol, Z-Bo, Conley and Tony Allen. Shane Battier was on the squad and would have taught Harden how to play defense (along with TA) so he didn't turn into the one-way player he is today.  We've proved we can beat the Heat without Harden, so a championship that year was lock city, baby!

Objection. (Ed. Note: Overruled.)

Fast forward to 2012-2013 and we're a franchise record 56-win team (OKC took first place in the conference with only 60 wins). Add Harden to that roster and I say we bring the Larry O'Brien Trophy back home to Beale. That's TWO legit championships we missed out on because we selected Hasheem Thabeet over Harden (Note: or Curry). Did I mention we already had a center named Marc Gasol when we made this selection?

I hate John from Greewhich. Let's change gears.

  • Totally not Matt Hrdlicka in Memphis writes:

Jordan Adams is going to be the rookie of the year! Book it! Agree?

I put the odds of this happening somewhere between Robert Pera's chances against TA in one-on-one and the likelihood that Quincy Pondexter, Vince Carter, and Courtney Lee all get Ebola.

  • Endless Summer Ave. in Memphis writes:

Over/under 4.5 games started by Jordan Adams this year?

Under, but I think he'll break into the regular rotation by the end of the year because, to quote the great Bethlehem Shoals (aka FreeDarko) from his every-game preview, "Quincy Pondexter reminds everyone that there's no ‘I' in ‘team' nor in ‘Pondexter.'"

Over/under 12.5 players currently on the roster on the playoff roster?

Under. For all intents and purposes, Robert Pera's emergence this summer as DA BOSS ushers in a new management era for the Grizzlies yet again, and if there's anything that we've learned from the past few years about new management teams, it's that they always shake things up. For example, Levien and Stu Lash traded Rudy Gay, Musai Ujiri in Toronto traded Rudy Gay the following year, and Vivek Ranadive plans to trade Rudy Gay this year to help push Sacramento into the postseason. I suspect Hollinger and Pera are running a bunch of different options through THE MACHINE that include everyone on the roster except Marc, Mike, and Z-Bo. They probably don't include Rudy Gay either, but you never know.

  • IsoTayshaun22@aol.com in Memphis writes:

Is Tayshaun Prince going to be traded this season? Asking for a friend.

Maybe, but his trade value lies in his expiring contract, which the Grizzlies also want next summer for added flexibility while re-signing Marc. It's not essential, though, as anybody who watched the Rockets wheel and deal this summer to free up space to (unsuccessfully) sign Chris Bosh knows. I think the front office is perfectly content to watch Tayshaun planted at the end of the bench for a year and and receive $7.7 million in cap space for their patience unless they get a trading partner willing to provide some immediate help on the court (like, say, Thad Young?).

  • David in NYC writes:

Will the fan base ever extend beyond Memphis to the rest of the state/region? Do we need a larger fan base to support the team in the long run or do we even care?

Interesting you should ask, David, because your hometown paper made a fancy little graphic that provides some terrific insight into this very topic:

To answer the first part of your question, the fan base is definitely expanding as the Grizzlies experience some sustained success and additional national exposure (after all, network executives have no choice but to air playoff games on national television). I live in Nashville, where the Grizz are slowly but surely grinding their way into sports radio zeitgeist, and bartenders don't look at you as cockeyed as they did five years ago when you ask if they'll put on the game.*

*I live and drink in sections of Nashville with a lot of transplants. It would still be highly inadvisable to ask a bartender to put on the Grizzlies game if you were in Belle Meade or Franklin. Someone would probably say something racist or - at the very least - degrading about Memphis.

They also do several orders of magnitude better than the Predators on television here, but that's probably more indicative of basketball's popularity relative to hockey. Which brings me to the second part of your question: No, the Grizzlies don't really need the support of the region, nor should you care unless you're Jason Wexler. Sure, if everyone in the Tennessee-Mississippi-Arkansas area became huge Grizzlies fans, it might generate some extra ticket sales and maybe a richer contract when they renegotiate the regional Fox Sports South contract, but that's peanuts compared to what the Grizz will get with the new national TV deal.

I don't want to undersell the importance of regional popularity, but it's always going to be a byproduct of on-court success in smaller markets. I also think this focus obscures the big picture when you consider basketball's ascendance both in the United States and internationally. Simply being in the club is going to be enough to keep everyone fat and happy from a financial standpoint. That could have dire consequences for a team like the Grizzlies if you had an owner who was content to just be fat and happy (see: Sterling, Donald),  but that is not the vibe I get from Robert Pera at all. He's a competitive son-of-a-bitch. And he's put his money where his mouth is as far as investing in the complementary components of the team (stacks on stacks of assistant coaches, lodging at the Grand Del Mar for training camp, iPads flowin' like wine, etc.). The important things are that the Grizzlies continue to find success and that the league keeps finding megastars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant to represent it.

THE OFFICIAL FanDuel NERDOUT EMAIL OF THE WEEK BROUGHT TO YOU BY FanDuel

  • Jimmy Who Used to Live in Memphis writes:

Who would be a better fit on this current team, 03-04 James Posey or 07-08 Juan Carlos Navarro? Let's assume that if you take Posey, he would get Tayshaun's minutes from last season, and if you go with Navarro, he would have Courtney Lee's minutes from last season.

God bless you, Jimmy Who Used to Live in Memphis, I LOVE this question. The answer, of course, is Posey. But now we get to talk about both James Posey and Juan Carlos Navarro! This is what the GBB Mailbag is all about, people. Let's break it down, shall we?

HOLY CRAP James Posey was crazy good that year. The per game numbers don't jump out at you, but remember Hubie Brown was using a legit 10-man rotation with only Pau Gasol playing more than 30 minutes per night. Oh the efficiency! Here's a quick chart:


MP

FGA

FG%

3PA

3P%

FT%

Reb

Ast

Stl

Blk

Pts

PER

WS/48

Player A

29.1

9.8

52%

2.8

38%

80%

6.2

2

1.7

0.8

12.8

19.4

0.193

Player B

29.9

9.4

48%

3.5

39%

83%

4.9

1.5

1.7

0.5

13.7

18.8

0.195

Player A is your 2014 NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, and Player B was James Posey in 2003-2004. Goodness gracious. I can't even fathom what this team would have done last year with Kawhi instead of, gulp, Tayshaun Prince.

Would you believe that Juan Carlos Navarro actually shot worse than Posey from three? It's not really a fair comparison because Hubie had that ‘04 team absolutely humming, and the 2008 Grizzlies lost 60 games and won the Kwame Brown lottery.

It was also Navarro's rookie season (although he was 27). I still contend that he could've been a fantastic NBA player on the right team. If only he'd waited a few more months for Marc to come galloping in on his mighty steed to rescue the young franchise in Memphis. We could've had a Las Ramblas Layup Line going on with Spanish Splashmasters Marc and Juan Carlos, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. And Jimmy, jeez, the last thing we need is another undersized wing player. It's Posey, baby. It's always been Posey.

Five Stars

#neverforget

THE GRRRRRAB BAG:

  • bbqjoebob in Collierville writes:

Who can eat the most BBQ nachos j/k I don't care its not as much as me.

Attaboy, bbqjoebob. Attaboy. (h/t @SirMeeksaL0t)

**

GOIN' DOWN NEXT WEEK

We'll have 4 games (!!!) til we meet again at the GBB Mailbag and surely a lot more to talk about then. Thank God basketball is back because the stupid Tennessee Volunteers are making me question the meaning of life every week.

Also, INTERSTELLAR!!!!!!!!!!!!! At this point, if you told me Matthew McConaughey was starring as Adam Sandler's conjoined twin in a movie written by Dwight Howard called "FART!" I would still go see that movie. But this is Nolan. This could change everything. Long live the McConaissance. 

MUSIC ADVICE YOU DIDN'T ASK FOR

The Reigning Sound - the Asheville band led by Memphis garage punk legend Greg Cartwright (ex-Oblivians, Compulsive Gamblers, Parting Gifts, others) currently battling Deerhunter for the title of Greatest Living Rock Band in a caged death match in my mind - is stopping in Nashville this weekend on their current tour in support of their Merge Records debut Shattered, and I couldn't be more excited to see them again. Memphians who don't know them already might recognize the song "Straight Shooter" that plays the Gary Parrish Show out to commercial on 92.9 ESPN. Here's a song off the new album:

I can't even tell you how much I love this band. The last time I saw them, they opened for The Hives at the New Daisy and Greg came out and sang the Compulsive Gamblers' classic "Stop and Think It Over" with The Hives and it was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. You should buy all their albums, but Shattered and 2009's Love and Curses are both Cartwright canon for me, along with the Oblivians' Popular Favorites and The Compulsive Gamblers' Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing. Here's their tour schedule, check them out if you get the chance. I'll personally refund your ticket if you don't dig it.*

10/31/14

Kansas City, MO


Record Bar

11/01/14

Memphis, TN


Hi Tone

11/02/14

Nashville, TN


Mercy Lounge

11/03/14

Athens, GA


Georgia Theatre

*And probably won't publicly excoriate you for sending me a bill and trashing one of my favorite bands.

See ya next week!

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR