Last season, the Grizzlies acquired Nick Calathes via Dallas for removing protection on a 2016 draft pick that Dallas had owned. Calathes played for the University of Florida before heading overseas for a while. Then, he made his way into the NBA. After a shaky start with the Grizzlies, Nick Calathes ended up averaging 4.9 PPG and 2.9 assists on the year. In February, he was declared the Western Conference Rookie of the Month as he averaged 10.7 points and 4.6 assists per game. He was also nominated to win the same award again in March.
Finally, Calathes was the legitimate backup point guard the Grizzlies needed. Then, less than a day before the start of their 7 game series against the OKC Thunder, it was announced Nick Calathes would be suspended for a total of twenty games for using a banned substance called Tamoxifen. However, his ban during the Memphis Grizzlies' postseason run and first thirteen games of this season has allowed Beno Udrih to establish a firm position as the second string point guard. But now Calathes is back, and questions of how he will exactly fit into the deepest Grizzlies team ever are being brought to the surface. Nick brings too much to the table to keep him benched for long, though.
For one, he'll provide even more scoring the Grizzlies' already improved offense.
On the second unit, Quincy Pondexter, Beno Udrih, and Vince Carter all add more perimeter scoring to Memphis' bench. While not tremendous from beyond the arc, Calathes can add another 6 or so points from the bench each night while dishing out some assists to his teammates. He's also a solid defender with 66 steals last season, and since Memphis is a defensive-minded team, he fits into that scheme well, too. Now, I'm wondering if Joerger will consistently use the lineup of Calathes and Udrih together. It's an awesome thought, as Calathes playing point and letting Udrih play more off the ball could add another feature to the evolving Grizzlies offense. Udrih has developed a nice pull up jumper, and Calathes could give him more opportunity to use it if he played the main point guard and Udrih filled more of a shooting guard role.
Check out these highlights to Nick's possibly best game of last season:
Plus, he can provide skilled passing.
The bench has finally seemed to get into somewhat of a groove, but Calathes adds another dimension to the second unit's offense. Nick is an unselfish player as he'd rather give someone else a great pass than take a questionable shot himself. He's also super crafty with his passes. It's really fun to watch. Last season alone, he had 207 assists. And in assists per turnovers, he ranked 16th among shooting guards.
Finally, he's young and hungry.
At only 25 years, Calathes has a long career ahead of him. And he's come quite a long way from the beginning of last season, when Memphis fans everywhere were questioning why Joerger was trusting this rookie point guard so much and giving him consistent minutes despite his poor play. Mike Conley went down January 31 against Minnesota with an ankle sprain, and Nick started seven games while he healed while averaging 14.7 points per game and 4.9 assists per game. And by the end of February, many had changed their minds and envisioned him as the backup point guard Memphis had so desperately needed for so long. The twenty game suspension hurt the Grizzlies, but Beno played the role he needed to during the seven game series. However, we've all missed Calathes in the lineup. He's a talented player who can fill an important role on this team as the season goes on. He'll have to somewhat climb the ladder again, but I have confidence that Calathes will positively impact the Grizz yet again. In fact, if he plays anything like he did last year, he'll definitely add an extra boost to the already explosive Grizzlies bench on the deepest team Memphis has ever had.