Back in June, the Memphis Grizzlies acquired Matt Barnes via trade, which was received with mixed emotions by many Grizzlies fans. On one hand, Matt Barnes brings a tough mentality and some offensive boost to the Grizzlies. On the other hand, Matt Barnes has been seen as an enemy for years. I mean, he played for the Grizzlies' arch nemesis, the Los Angeles Clippers. He's been viewed as a dirty, angry, and nasty player by his opponents across the league.
Key word: nasty.
That's what Coach Dave Joerger says Matt Barnes brings to the table for the Memphis Grizzlies. This addition will make the Grizzlies nasty, he said.
Just think of it: Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and Matt Barnes. Together. On the same team. On the same court, at the same time. That sounds like a nightmare for any opponent.
Will there be ejections? More than likely. Will there be face-offs? Probably. Will it be entertaining and exciting? Definitely.
But in all seriousness, Matt Barnes only enhances the style of grit n' grind basketball that the Grizzlies have displayed for years. It's the perfect match. So has Matt Barnes finally found his perfect home in the bluff city?
Memphis is a blue-collared town, full of blue-collared people. What you see is what you get. Memphis has celebrated and clung to the Grizzlies' grit n' grind style of play and those who have pioneered it. Tony Allen and Zach Randolph are the biggest proponents of this style, and the city of Memphis adores them. Matt Barnes epitomizes toughness, grit, and tenacity. He fits like a glove.
Some, like Serge Ibaka, might not always like what Barnes has to say, but Matt isn't afraid to be himself and voice his opinion:
For the Clippers last season, Barnes averaged 10.1 PPG, 1.5 assists, and 4 rebounds in almost 30 MPG. More than likely, Barnes will come off the bench this season for the Grizz. Although he is past his prime and has been in the league 12 years, Matt Barnes can still contribute significantly on offense and defense. He shot 36.2% from three last season and will hopefully help spread the floor for the Grizz, who need all the shooting they can get. Last season, he had an impressive offensive rating of 108 per 100 possessions. On the other hand, his defense doesn't stand out on paper, but his energy on both the offensive and defensive end is contagious. At 6' 7", he may not be an all-star defender, but he'll sure make his opponents work for their points. He's like Tony Allen in that respect; both may not be more talented than their opponents at particular times, but their defensive effort makes up for it.
Tony Allen and Zach Randolph are also past their primes, but both are still in great shape to contribute on a championship run. Both are vicious competitors, and both aren't afraid to get a little dirty. Last season, Tony Allen's trademark was his chanting "First Team All-Defense" all season, especially during the post season. He was richly rewarded as he was, rightly so, soon after named to the all-defensive first team. No doubt, Tony will be up to his old tricks and treats this season. This will include missed lay-ups and bricked jumpers. But this will also include sneaky steals, contagious energy on the court, and great one-on-one defense.
Zach Randolph is nearing the end of his career, and it looks like he'll retire in Memphis. But Z-Bo still has some miles left on him yet. As Zach has aged, he has developed a more consistent fade away jumper and hook shot. He'll need to rely on those two skills more this season as his aging body can't take too much banging. We all saw last year how the Grizzlies fared without Randolph, and it wasn't pretty.
This Grizzlies team has the potential to win a championship, but it'll be tough in the West just like it was last year and the year before that. Matt Barnes left the LA Clippers and came here at least in part because he knew the Grizzlies were contenders and loves the style of play Memphis exhibits. Undoubtedly, it'll be interesting to see how the personalities of Matt Barnes and Tony Allen mix, as they are both extremely vocal teammates. If they can mesh well, then that bodes well for the Grizz. Matt Barnes won't fix the Grizzlies' shooting problems, but he won't hurt them, either. The Grizzlies got Barnes for practically nothing, so he's definitely a steal. He'll add some energy and veteran experience to the Grizzlies' bench, and he can be trusted in tight game situations.
For years, Matt Barnes has been known for his toughness and willingness to stand up against an opponent, but he hasn't had anyone to back him up. When he tried to fight Serge Ibaka, for example, he had the likes of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin flanking him. But now, he's got Tony Allen (the "Grindfather") and Zach Randolph to stand by his side. Randolph and Allen both have had some memorable moments in the boxing ring:
With the logjam at the wing, the addition of Matt Barnes already makes the Grizzlies' wing situation tighter. I wouldn't be at all surprised at some pivotal mid season trades. Matt Barnes is a great addition, but the Grizzlies are still sorely lacking spot-up shooters who can knock down three's at a decent rate on a consistent basis. If Matt Barnes can offer a reliable mid range jumper and be able to knock down a couple of three's every game or so, then he can be a pretty invaluable contributor.
Zach Randolph already brings his "in the mud" mentality, and he'll no doubt be a formidable force down on the block again this season. In addition, Tony Allen has been for years this team's heart and soul, and he'll continue that important role again this year. By adding the hard-nosed Matt Barnes to the mix, I believe we'll see "Bad Boys Part 2" this season. But these dudes aren't from Detroit. No, they play in the "Bluff City." And believe me, these guys definitely don't bluff.
Say hello to the Bad Boys of Beale Street, NBA.