As we inch closer to the start of the 2015/2016 NBA season, it seems that Memphis Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger has once again decided to embroil himself in a controversy entirely of his own making: the question of whether to start Tony Allen.
Is he serious?
No seriously, I can't believe this is happening again. He's seriously considering benching Tony Allen AGAIN?
This debate is so stupid that it's frankly amazing that we have to get back into it five years after Tony's emergence as a Grizzlies starter catapulted the team into the playoffs. Tony Allen Should Start. Tony Allen Makes Good Things Happen When He's On The Court. Tony Allen Is The Best Perimeter Defender On Earth. This makes no sense.
Reading and listening to the same media the rest of you do, there's quiet resignation and acceptance of the fact that Jeff Green will likely start the season in place of TA, with the caveat that Joerger will probably have to make a change after a couple of weeks or months after it becomes clear that this is a TERRIBLE IDEA. This is insane! Why, fellow Grizzlies fans, must we wait for this inevitable disaster to play out, though? We're all on the same page, right? Start shouting it at Dave Joerger from the street or your cars, write letters to the editor, call Verno, or tweet this #factonly to @robertpera: Tony Allen should definitely start!
If I'm being completely honest, and we're forced to play this idiotic game of which of the Core Four we'd bench for no reason other than we feel like we have to bench somebody: I'm picking Mike Conley. Conley's clearly better at basketball than Tony Allen, but given that the team generally hangs when Conley sits out games, and since there's no substitution for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and because Conley has less often gone full "Tony Allen" and completely disrupted another team's ability to do anything, I'm sitting down Mike.
Do you see how preposterous this situation is? We'd never think of benching Conley just for the purposes of shaking things up, yet every year we have to endure this moronic song and dance from the Grizzlies coaching staff. Here's a news flash, geniuses: TONY ALLEN SHAKES THINGS UP BECAUSE HE'S THE MOST IMPACTFUL PLAYER ON THE TEAM. I honestly don't know what to say anymore. Go read Jonah's article from this summer if you want numbers. I feel no reason to back up the objective fact that Tony Allen should be a starter with numbers. Just watch the games! Watch the heroic Conley mask game against Golden State for chrissake! You know who the best player on the floor was that night? It wasn't Mike, it was Tony.
If there's a point to this rant, it's that Dave Joerger is falling into many of the same traps that his predecessor, current Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins, did. Tony Allen's offensive shortcomings present a simplistic scapegoat for pacing and shooting concerns, but the fact of the matter is that the team is better with him on the floor. ALWAYS. PERIOD. THE END. And the fact that he doesn't understand that he should start Tony Allen — again, Tony Allen!, the heart and freaking soul of this team! — combined with his willingness to back up Matt Barnes "one thousand percent" after he beat up the Knicks' coach and told James Harden's mom to [redacted], then maybe it's time we question Joerger's judgment and leadership abilities.
There's no magic bullet to solve the longstanding issues with Memphis' offense that doesn't include jettisoning both Zach Randolph and Tony Allen from the team. If the Memphis brass is committed to becoming Golden State, then they should stop pussyfooting around with Jeff Green as a starter and just trade Zach and Tony. That's the only way the Grizzlies become a 3-point juggernaut, so if that's the goal, then stop wasting everybody's time and do it. Or, alternatively, just embrace Grit 'n Grind already, Dave. There isn't a problem, but rest assured, Tony Allen has been and continues to be the solution.