Welcome to the inaugural edition of the GBB Mailbag! Each week we will ask for folks to submit Memphis Grizzlies questions on our Twitter and Facebook pages, and combine those questions with some that were posed by commenters and bloggers through various posts throughout the past week. Three different people from GBB will answer the questions each week.
Today, I will be answering along with Features Writer Brandon Conner and Game Coverage Writer Collin Huguley.
Question from @jj_p_baker on Twitter- Does Jarell Martin's good play increase the chances of JaMychal Green being traded?
Brandon Conner (@BallFromGrace) - I think it increases the likelihood of a JaM trade, but I'm still not sure how likely it is that this trade gets made. Generally, I've been in agreement with those who think Martin may wind up as the better player of the two by season's end. But it's not a certainty, and if it does happen, there's still the question of how long it takes.
Plus, Martin's foot issues make me a little nervous about his health going forward. If moved, Green would likely be a piece in a package deal (probably for a wing), and if nothing else it at least opens a path for more minutes for Deyonta Davis, which I'm all for. Plus, you've got the restricted free agency thing coming up.
Still, JaMychal has played well so far this season, even if he still fouls too much.
Collin Huguley (@CollinHuguley) - Martin's play is certainly promising and he is indicating that he could be the future of the power forward position in Memphis. That being said, I feel that Green will be kept throughout this season to give Martin a chance to develop some more, and to also give Green a chance to show that he can stick with the team. I love Green's long-term fit as a glue guy that can play a real role, either off the bench or as a low-usage starter.
Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax) - Yes and no. Yes in that it makes JaMychal slightly more expendable, and no in that it doesn’t mean Jarell is better than JaMychal right now. Green fits so well with most lineups because, aside from fouling, he isn’t really bad at anything. He can defend multiple positions, he can play in the pick and roll, and he has experience now after being depended on so heavily for minutes last season.
Jarell is likely the future, and his and Deyonta Davis’ development likely mean this will be JaMychal’s last season in Memphis, simply because he will cost too much to keep in free agency. That doesn’t mean he should be shipped out now if Memphis wants to compete for the playoffs.
Question from GBB’s Mac Trammell in an article this week - Should Vince Carter or James Ennis take Tony Allen's starting spot, or should TA stay put?
Conner - For now, I think it's best to just keep the status quo. TA has had his issues early in the season, but moving him to the bench doesn't feel like it's going to help anything. In Parsons' absence, Ennis has provided a big boost offensively, and I actually like having him in a reserve role to give the second unit a little more punch there.
As for Vince, he's been spectacular so far this season (health might be a big part of that), and he's finally looked like what the Grizzlies thought they were getting when he was signed. But right now he's averaging 26 minutes a game at (almost) 40 years old! Even if you keep his playing time in line with that, I'm not sure how much you really gain by moving him to a starting role. Let the 18-year veteran continue to be a "coach on the floor" with the young guys and provide smart plays when you need them.
Like a perfectly placed inbound pass with less than a second left on the clock, for example.
Huguley - I would say no to both Carter and Ennis taking the spot from Allen. Allen still brings some value to the table, but he could lose his spot...to Wade Baldwin. I feel that Baldwin could take over the role if he makes necessary strides throughout the year. Baldwin's dynamic offensive game, coupled with his natural defensive ability, gives him a real shot of starting next to Conley by the All-Star break in my view.
Mullinax - I would keep James Ennis in a reserve role, simply because I think his pairing with Zach Randolph makes the bench that much more dangerous. Tony Allen, while still a defensive savant, does not bring what Ennis does on both sides of the floor, and TA can play off of offensively capable players like Chandler Parsons, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley in that first unit.
Vince Carter, however, makes a bit more sense. He has shown that he can defend when called upon, he has started this season as well as any since he arrived in Memphis, and he’s a veteran who can help steady the ship when the starters struggle early. Carter is still playing entirely too much, but that will likely cut back a bit as Parsons sees an uptick in his minutes.
For now, keep starting TA. But if the offensive struggles continue through, say, Christmas, it may be worth looking at a shake up.
Question from GBB’s Joe Mullinax in an article this week - What is more likely - Mike Conley being named Most Improved Player, or Mike Conley making the All-Star team?
Conner - We've seen it before: the MIP award generally goes to a young guy who gets more playing time and usage. I just don't see any way that Conley gets that award, even if Fizdale's system provides more scoring opportunities for him. On the All-Star side, Conley will still face an uphill battle to make the team given how many good point guards there are in the West, but it's conceivable that all the press from Conley's big contract, even if it was mostly negative, could at least provide him a bump in national recognition, which could boost the number of votes he receives.
I still think it's a long shot, but the Cubs just won the World Series, so I wouldn't rule anything out.
Huguley - Conley being an All-Star. Most Improved Player is often focused towards younger players, and Conley is playing at an exceptional level. I could certainly see Conley getting the nod for the ASG. It might take an injury, it might not. But Conley has cranked up his offense, making him more appealing for an All-Star bid than he has been in previous years.
Mullinax - I think a Most Improved award is more likely than others do. He has been a revelation so far offensively, as I mentioned in the article linked above, and his competition right now seems to be another older guard in George Hill of the Utah Jazz and Giannis Antetokuonmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis seems to be a favorite going by the young player thought process, but it isn’t a stretch for me to see Mike getting this recognition.
While you don’t wish injury on anyone, I do think Conley is an injury away from being an All-Star if he sustains this level of play. James Harden/Russell Westbrook/Stephen Curry/Chris Paul/Damian Lillard likely will make the team if healthy, taking up five of the guard slots. Mike probably needs one of them to drop out to make it for the first time in his career.
Both are not very likely, but as crazy as it sounds Most Improved may have less competition for Conley than the All-Star vote.