It’s the return of the Friday Three! Three topics that trended this week for the Memphis Grizzlies and my piping hot takes on them. Let’s get to it.
ANDREW HARRISON IS NOT THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL
Memphis Grizzlies fans always seem to enjoy finding one player in particular to direct their disdain toward.
Ed Davis ring any bells? Tayshaun Prince? Once upon a time, Mike Conley? And we certainly can’t forget...I can’t even say it...
Yes, some of the grenades of hot takes thrown in the general direction of these players were justified. But there were times where from “The Answer That Wasn’t the Answer That Shall Remain Nameless” to Conley back in the day and everywhere in between, that the blame being cast in the general direction of those players just wasn’t fair.
Fast forward to today, and one game into the regular season, Memphis Grizzlies fans seem to have already found their newest target, now that #32 above has moved on.
*whispers* Andrew Harrison is not good— Made in Memphis (@MadeinMemphis1) October 27, 2016
After the first preseason game, Fizdale said he played Andrew Harrison off the ball to "make him uncomfortable." He's still uncomfortable.— Kevin Lipe (@FlyerGrizBlog) October 27, 2016
Heck, even yours truly got in on the fun on Wednesday night...
Harrison gets abused in the post by Andrew WIGGINS and I ask myself WHY IS HE IN RIGHT NOW I DONT THINK HE IS AWFUL BUT GOOD LORD CMON NOW— Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax) October 27, 2016
Let the record show that Harrison himself understands that the way he performed Wednesday night, especially from range, is not good enough:
Andrew Harrison asked how the Grizzlies were able to find a rhythm from outside: “Obviously, I had nothing to do with that.”— John Martin (@JohnMartin929) October 27, 2016
He looked lost at times. As Lipe alluded to above, Harrison is much more comfortable in the traditional “Point Guard” role, and you could tell he was not at all getting a feel for playing off the ball so much next to Mike Conley. Add on the fact that Wade Baldwin did this...
Wade Baldwin IV is the 1st player since at least 1983-84 w/ a 5x3 game in an NBA debut (7 pts, 5 rbs, 6 asts, 3 stls, 3 bks via @bball_ref)— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) October 27, 2016
And also can do this...
Solid debut for Wade Baldwin tonight. Impressive defensively. Not many PGs who can load up off two feet without much momentum & block shots. pic.twitter.com/zlUBke7Glq— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) October 27, 2016
And you can understand the frustration of Grizzlies fans to an extent.
However, before Grizzlies fans fully adopt Andrew Harrison as this season’s whipping boy supreme, I would challenge them to keep perspective and, as Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers famously put it, R-E-L-A-X.
Andrew Harrison had an overall rough night. But guess what? The Memphis Grizzlies won. Andrew Harrison played 38 minutes, the most on the team. He was playing in his first actual NBA game and was a starter, which all would agree is outside of the role that he should be, whatever you think that role is. He was not a shining star on this night, or even a mediocre NBA starting shooting guard, but that’s because he isn’t an NBA starting shooting guard.
He is being asked to be something that he is not due to injuries. Wade Baldwin and Zach Randolph off the bench provided a massive spark for Memphis in the Timberwolves game. Harrison provides a bigger combo guard who can defend multiple positions (yes, I know Baldwin can too, but stick with me here) and can perhaps grow into that off-ball role a bit faster being thrown into the fire as a starter. Baldwin, being the younger player, perhaps is not ready to be asked to do that much. Harrison may not be either, but he at least has played a professional season in the D-League. He does not have much experience, but he has more than Baldwin.
Consider it like being in a foreign country and learning the language through immersion. While that may not be ideal for an NBA team, keep in mind that they have two veteran wings out with injury right now in Chandler Parsons and Tony Allen. One star and one potential starter missing. It’s not an ideal world the Grizzlies are currently in. Head coach David Fizdale is using it as an opportunity to find out what he has in Andrew Harrison.
Is it possible it isn’t much? Of course. Should he pull the plug after a larger sample size if Harrison is still having issues? Absolutely. But it is worth a shot at this early stage of the season, and it has only been one game. Let the young man play, and see where he fits over a longer period of time. Until then, save the scapegoating.
Appreciating Marc Gasol and Mike Conley
Let’s just take a moment and enjoy this, shall we?
There was a time when we honestly thought that two home-grown (in two different ways) talents may take those gifts elsewhere. There were days where many were worried that Marc Gasol may actually become a San Antonio Spur, or that Mike Conley may long for the bright lights of Broadway with the New York Knicks.
Man, were y’all silly.
They both chose to stay in the Bluff City, and Memphis Grizzlies fans are the lucky ones. Sure, Conley and Gasol combined for 42 points on 15-31 shooting, including 5-8 from beyond the arc, but beyond that these are two guys who are genuinely happy to be a part of the city that they call home. They decided to continue to contribute and build upon the foundation that they had a direct hand in setting. They had other opportunities with more potential for advertisements, and more chances to live in what some might call “more desirable areas”.
They desired Memphis the most. And they led this team to only their second opening night victory in their history. The building continues, and I am glad these two are leading the way.
A Note on Character and Public Figures
Here at GBB, you will rarely (if ever) see us make a post regarding a news item whose sole connection with the Memphis Grizzlies is that the subject once worked there, or they were a member of the organization before a fall from grace. That is a conscious decision made by me, as the Site Manager, after conversations with my staff. We are a fan blog. My staff and I have an obligation to provide information/analysis about the team on the floor and the organization/media around them. When it comes to legal matters, we are not the source for that. And that is OK. The “clicks” are not worth breaking away from what we are as a site.
However, I do see GBB and our community as a place for social commentary. For example, we had a post in the past week or so about unity in Memphis during a time of racial unrest across the country. That is part of why the Grizzlies were brought to Memphis in the first place - to unite a city still very divided. It is relevant to the franchise, so it is relevant to the blog.
The actions of individuals, be they public voices or former players, do not contribute to that conversation or the Memphis Grizzlies at large. That is not to say that actions are excused, or should not be covered. There will be times when those stories perhaps have more of a direct impact on the team, and I will cross that bridge when we come to it. But for now, we at GBB will remain the standard for coverage and analysis in Grizzlies bloggerdom on what occurs directly within the organization.
Athletes and public figures are naturally put on a pedestal, and the 21st century has only created more of this through people putting only the best of themselves on display through various social media. The falls are that much harder when they do come, sometimes by that same social media.
Remember that all of us are human, and all of us, regardless of public placement, are flawed. Consequences for actions should be felt, and those affected by the decisions of those individuals should be where the focus is, as well as the pursuit of justice for them, not the fact that those who committed the alleged crimes were former Memphis Grizzlies employees... at least not by fan blogs such as GBB.
Just one man’s opinion.