Nick Calathes first year in the NBA, following a two-year stint overseas started as badly as one could start an NBA career. Frequently Calathes looked lost on the floor, dribbling aimlessly and either jacking a shot or making a poor pass. He seemed overwhelmed by his time on the floor, but with a lack of depth in the PG position, had to put in time. Just how bad was it? His opening to the season had him with a -1 PER.
The play was frustrating that even I proposed handing off the PG duties to just anyone except him, and to send Calathes down to the D League where his rookie mistakes would not be so costly.
And then something clicked around the end of the winter. When Mike Conley hurt his ankle in February, Calathes role had to expand out of necessity and it did.
He developed good movement with Mike Miller, creating some great drive and kick moments to draw a defender off of Miller and then having him open for a jumper. Even partnered with other Grizzlies, Calathes was showing some signs of a Conley tutorship, getting some quick speed and good paint penetration to then pass off to the free man.
His shooting is not his strong suit, but working with a bench unit that at times shared Miller, Jon Leuer, James Johnson and Courtney Lee, they were not short of shooting ability. He certainly found his footing again and brought up that embarrassing PER up to 12.50 and his Value Added percent was 32.5 (just for some perspective, Tayshaun Prince's VA was -67.4)
Defensively, Nick was mostly very solid, he occasionally got burned chasing balls for steals, but on a defensive minded team such as the Grizzlies, that kind of effort would be applauded rather than punished. Later in the season he really grew into having some great defensive games, outplaying some veteran opponents with some peskiness that Tony Allen, no doubt, taught him.
In short, he was asked a lot of when he was brought on, but grew into his role nicely, even though it was tumultuous at many times.
And no Calathes grade would be complete without mention of his 20-game suspension for violating substance abuse policy by testing positive for Tamoxifen. The drug has been banned for being a masking agent. Tamoxifen helps counter some side effects of anabolic steroids by producing high levels of estrogen. Any suspension due to violating policy is bad, but landing right before the playoff series against rival Oklahoma City Thunder was an especially rough blow for the rookie. Calathes vowed to dispute the suspension, but we haven't heard anything else since then.
The suspension will carry over into the start of the new season since the Grizzlies playoff run ended after that first series, but with all the front office changes happening, the future for Calathes is too up in the air.
We have to get a better understanding of the suspension and what happened.
Final Grade: C