The NFL has a violence problem. Major League Baseball has a pace-of-game problem. Nick Calathes has a hair problem.
The Grizzlies will begin 2014 without their backup point guard, who will don street clothes for the first 13 games of the year, finishing off a 20-game suspension handed down on the eve of last year's playoffs. Calathes violated the NBA's drug policy by using the drug Tamoxifen, which can be used to mask PED use, but is also used in hair growth products. It'd be like all of us getting twenty games for a coffee buzz.
However bogus the charges, the Grizzlies still must find a replacement for Nick Calathes, which is a sentence that's only ever been typed in a Calathes family email thread: "Hey guys, Nick can't make it on the big rafting trip this weekend. I've already paid the deposit, so we've got to find a replacement for Nick Calathes."
And yet, it remains true: the Grizzlies must find a capable backup point guard to go on their 13-game, season-opening rafting trip, a little jaunt that includes visits to Indiana and Oklahoma City. Last year's playoff series with OKC revealed Beno Udrih still possesses a bit of spunk, so he'll be Mike Conley's primary early-season backup. If Beno is the same Beno who coaxed my autocorrect into changing "be" to "BENOOOOOOOOOO" a thousand times over the last few months, the Grizzlies are in good shape.
Nick Calathes 2013-14 Stats
13 games is a decent amount of the season. Speaking of decent, Nick Calathes is decent! After appearing tentative early in his rookie season, Calathes grew into a capable playmaker off the bench, a solid ballhandler, and someone who could make open threes (hit 37% in his long stretch of February playing time). Calathes, who won Western Conference Rookie of the Month for his work replacing Conley in February, is tall (6'6"), and reasonably athletic; he can defend less-prolific shooting guards (like, say, Jodie Meeks) for stretches, if necessary.
The main thing Calathes (who wanted to return to Greece in the offseason for more dough) must improve is his three-point shot, a look most teams were very willing to concede to the 31% shooter. If Calathes can step into that "annoying, bald, backup point guard who cans every single open three you give him role" (might have been easier to type "Derek Fisher"), the Grizzlies' second unit will be very good.
What it all means is that Nick Calathes is a perfectly capable backup point guard. In the buxom Grizzly history of backup point guards -- Dooling! Arenas! Mayo? Vasquez! -- "perfectly capable" is perfectly fine. Memphis will not sink if Calathes is tasked with occasional Conley call-in duty, but neither will the Grizz rise. If Calathes is tasked to do any sort of long-term Conley impersonation, the Grizzlies will struggle.
The ceiling for Nick Calathes
The Annoying, Bald, Backup Point Guard Who Pesters and Takes Charges and Makes Wide-Open Threes
The floor for Nick Calathes
Never quite gets into the flow of things after his suspension, struggling with his shot and confidence. He's booed (again) at FedEx Forum, and flees to Greece the instant the season is over.
The perfectly ordinary middle ground for Nick Calathes
Calathes, suspended for his perfectly ordinary male pattern baldness, is a perfectly ordinary point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies.