Your opinions of a team, and of a player, can rise and fall very quickly in the span of 24 hours.
Take the past 48 hours in Grizz Nation, for example. The excitement of opening night turned upside down after the debacle against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the anger and calls for Jeff Green's head rising to unprecedented heights. It was so noticeable that it became a thing on Twitter last night during the Grizzlies-Pacers game.
I’m all for Memphis trading Jeff Green so that people can stop blaming everything wrong with the team on him. It’s weird.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) October 30, 2015
I'm okay just cutting Jeff Green outright #hottake— Chris Avis (@ChrisRTS) October 30, 2015
There was no greater villain in all of the land. Then, once Jeff Green quite literally took over the fourth quarter, made major shots, distributed consistently throughout the game and had one of his best games as a Grizzly when he was most needed, tweets like this rolled in.
EVERYONE KEEP TWEETING JEFF GREEN SUCKS IT’S WORKING— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) October 30, 2015
I'd just like to say that I successfully made it through the game without tweeting something mean about Jeff Green. Turned over new leaf.— Matt Hrdlicka (@theRealHrdlicka) October 30, 2015
There was no greater hero in all of the land.
It's a phenomenon that it not unique within recent Grizzlies history. Whether it be Rudy Gay, Ed Davis or Tayshaun Prince Memphis fans are always seemingly beating up on one Grizzly in particular, the root of everything that is wrong with the team at large. The search for a scapegoat can be overwhelming at times, even when people are covering their scapegoating with acknowledging other issues on the roster. Of course at the end of the day it is everybody's fault; no one play or player wins or loses anything in team sports. There are plenty of moments and missteps that make up the misery of losses and poor execution.
But some shine brighter than others. Rudy and Jeff are all tagged with that dreaded "potential" tag that alters how others view them (this writer included.) Tayshaun Prince, outside of 2013's wonderful run, was brought on as a hold over in the Rudy gay trade and was a net negative overall. Ed Davis was believed to be "The Power Forward of the Future" and that became a big swing and a miss for a variety of reasons, not the least of which among some fans being his "disinterested" style of play.
All of these factors lead to strong senses of disdain, to the point of humor being drawn out of the faux hatred. Jeff is the latest in a long line of these types for Grizzlies fans. Just like one bad game does not make for an entire player's worth, neither does one solid performance. Consistency is key for both Jeff and the Grizzlies moving forward, and hopefully with Green's apparent move to the bench he can get comfortable as a facilitator and creator off the dribble for himself and others...he's too good of a guy it would seem to see struggle so mightily. But more on that later.
On to the Friday Three.
1. What Record Would Make Memphis' Upcoming West Coast Swing a Success?
The week ahead, after the Grizzlies welcome the Brooklyn Nets to Memphis on Halloween night this Saturday, is filled with West Coast contests. The Grizzlies are at Golden State Monday, Sacramento Tuesday, Portland Thursday, Utah Saturday and at the LA Clippers on Monday November 9th. That is three 2015 playoff teams, a rising young squad in the Jazz and a Kings team led by the aforementioned Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins, who can give Memphis an immense amount of trouble.
Assuming the Grizzlies find a way to win on Saturday against Brooklyn (a somewhat large assumption, considering Memphis' early strugges) they would be 2-1 on their way out West. Golden State and the Clippers will be difficult to win, to say the least. Utah is always a challenge for these Grizzlies, Sacramento is on the second night of a back to back, and Portland is showing the capacity to score at extremely high clips. This will be a huge challenge for the Bears of Beale Street early in their season.
2-3 on this trip is a win overall in my eyes. That puts Memphis at 4-4 after 8 games and keeps them on pace to stick around .500 through November, as myself, Peter Edmiston, and Matt Hrdlicka have all said on recent episodes of the GBBLive podcast should be the goal. It isn't sexy, and it may lead to more Memphis fans calling for the heads of various Grizzlies. It is necessary, however, and the schedule clears up some once December rolls around.
2. Will Real Life Jordan Adams Ever Reach the Level of Twitter Jordan Adams?
Whereas some Grizzlies bear the brunt of Memphis' frustration, others carry with them their hopes and dreams. For many in Grizz Nation, Jordan Adams is that dream weaver. His highly respected advanced anayltical numbers, his offensive skill set, his youth; all have many on Grizz Twitter and in the blogosphere swooning left and right. And make no mistake, Adams is a potential diamond in the rough for the Grizzlies, a player who can score and do it in highly efficient ways beyond the arc and behind the charity stripe.
However...the legend of #JordanAdamsComin is beginning to outgrow even optimistic projections of what he can be for the Grizzlies. Articles have been released using analytics to project Adams as a better player to build a franchise around than Carmelo Anthony (Rodney Hood was in front of both of them on that FiveThirtyEight list, but I digress) and more and more people are asking why not him?
Well, could it potentially be because he is a defensive struggle that had issues defending Summer League wings? Or is it because his conditioning may not be up to snuff in the eyes of the coaches? Perhaps it is because of the fact that Tony Allen/Jeff Green/Courtney Lee/Matt Barnes are going to eat a huge amount of the minutes that Jordan could slide in to due to their veteran status and how they fit Dave Joerger's schemes?
All valid reasons. Adams may well become the scorer and player that so many see in the future. But these high levels of expectation are dangerous; take it from the guy who called Jeff Green "the Answer." You set yourself up for a steep fall when you have such high expectations. Jordan will get his shot, and hopefully when his number is called he is ready. Until then, right or wrong, Rodney Hood will continue to be my proverbial "White Whale."
3. What is the Worst Part of Z-Bo's Early Shooting Woes?
Zach Randolph can ball. There is no denying that. There also is no denying, however, the fact that he has struggled out of the gate. His defense seems to have regressed in the extremely small sample size we have, and at times he appears to be laboring when he plays extended minutes. His largest area of issue is shooting; he is currently at 36.4% from the floor scoring the ball and his shot chart shows one glaring issue.
He is taking too many shots outside of the lane, meaning he is having issues getting in to where he is best. He is finishing well in the paint so far this year at 66.7%, but everywhere else in 2015-2016 he is just 2-13 shooting, or a miserable 15%. He is settling too often, taking the dreaded jab-step jumper more often than not and not taking players off the dribble more consistently. Part of this is scheme driven- teams are aware of what he wants to do and they do their best to take it away from him. He still could be better at positioning himself and making being aggressive getting to the rim a priority, however. Hopefully he finds his mid-range shot as November begins, as that keeps defenses off-balance enough to compensate for whatever steps older Z-Bo may have lost.
Zach Randolph and Tony Allen have earned something from most Grizzlies fans that Jeff Green hasn't quite yet- unconditional love. Allen makes a mistake, laugh it off. Randolph struggles out of the gate, he will find himself at some point. Jeff Green has issues? All hell breaks loose. But Zach and Tony have credit built up through the years through good deeds and play on and off the court. While Jeff is well on his way off the court to building that legend...
...he still has some work to do on it to build up some sweat equity with Grizzlies fans. He won't always be the guy who helped beat the Pacers, but a consistently solid player who plays with heart all of the time and shows heart off the court will eventually soften even the hardest Jeff Green detractors.
And even if it doesn't, if he remains everyone else's villain on the court, he is already at least one special young man's hero in every way possible. I would imagine that for Jeff Green, that is more than enough.