There was a large crowd outside FedEx Forum. The weather was beautiful, and Memphis is now tingling with excitement. Why? Because the Memphis Grizzlies looked really good in their open practice. Some might not think an open practice means much, but an observant fan can recognize the general condition of the team. And while I obviously couldn't attend training camp, I was able to see an up close look of this basic Grizzlies practice. So, here's my five thoughts about yesterday's practice:
1. Jordan Adams has lost a ton of weight. Seriously, this guy looks totally different than he did a few months ago. Compact and muscular, he looks in shape and ready for the season. Either he will spend a chunk of time in the D-League, or he will hopefully make a meaningful impact on the Grizzlies' much wanted perimeter shooting this year. Like many, I wasn't sure about the Grizzlies' decision to draft him at first glance, but further analysis and a great Summer League performance changed my mind completely.
2. During some drills, there was a presumed "starting" group and some succeeding groups. What caught my eye was that Tayshaun Prince was in the "starting" group, along with Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, and Zach Randolph. Folks, take this as you may. I wouldn't bank too much on it, but it was fascinating nevertheless. Will Joerger stick with Prince, or will he insert Courtney Lee or Vince Carter instead. Personally, I hope he changes his previous habit and starts Lee or Carter alongside Tony Allen.
3. Jarnell Stokes is super fit and appears to be improving on his outside shooting. Before the other players came out and the practice officially started, Stokes was warming up. He practiced some corner shots and around the free throw line. He was knocking down those corner shots with nice efficiency, and physically, he looks to be in NBA shape. And while he might spend a good bit of time in Iowa this season, I really, really hope he can get some minutes and contribute this season.
4. Marc Gasol also looks in amazing shape and prepared for this season. Besides dunking multiple times during various drills, Marc also swished sixteen three's during the 3 point shoot out, much to the fans' glee. As I've touched on before, he seems to have improved his perimeter shooting, which is a deadly weapon as a center. There's no doubt, he seems in the best shape he's been in a long time. I'm excited to see Marc's performance this season, and I sense a possible All-Star game ahead for Big Spain.
5. The whole team seemed focused. Everyone was in a light mood, and there was no shortage of fancy lay-ups and dunks during the drills. However, the team seemed in sync, and there were not a bunch of careless mistakes. Tony was up to his usual hilarious antics with his practice jersey on backwards, and Courtney Lee made a half court shot to win the three-point shoot out tie breaker against Vince Carter. All of the players seemed in awesome shape.Overall, this team is legit, and this season looks extremely bright!
The highlight of the practice, for me, was the three-point shoot out. It was refreshing to see the improved talent in this area as opposed to last year. Vince Carter, Jordan Adams, and (a hopefully improved) Courtney Lee should help the Grizzlies climb the standings a bit in three-point makes this season.
Now, it's time to stop speculating. Preseason is almost upon us! Do you think this team is ready to make a historic run?