Welcome to another installment of the Grizzly Bear Blues roundtable! There’s plenty to discuss in the land of the Memphis Grizzlies, and we’ve assembled quite a group of GBB staffers to break things down. Joining me today are GBB Senior Features Writer Matt Hrdlicka, Features Writers Brandon Conner and Mac Trammell, and Game Coverage Writer Stacie Montero.
Let’s get right to it.
1. A lot has been made the last few days of what is ailing the Memphis Grizzlies. Who/what do you think is most responsible?
Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax)- I have talked this to death. Read about it here. Hopefully the guys at the top of this roster will begin to improve their consistent level of play, especially defensively, as the schedule gets easier
Matt Hrdlicka (@theRealHrdlicka)- It's a lot of little things, but mainly I think it's that the Grizzlies are playing better teams, and it's exposing the weak spots in the Grizzlies roster. The Grizzlies have four guys who can create their own offense. Parsons is on a minutes restriction and is clearly not right. Conley broke his back. Zach is thirty-five and struggles on defense. Marc is still trying to do everything and that means some nights he does nothing.
Mac Trammell (@Mac_Trammell)- It’s been a team effort. They came out flat against the Bulls and the Wizards and had to struggle to eke out four and three point losses respectively against teams they probably should have straight up beaten. And of course they just lost by 24 at home to Houston, whom they beat at home a month prior (not to mention at Houston just four games before). There’s been a lack of intensity against teams that the Grizzlies should be beating or at best competing with, and that’s something that falls on everybody. However, they’re still 26-20 and three and a half games out of first round home court. Things will be okay.
Brandon Conner (@BallFromGrace)- I don’t know what I’d say is most responsible, but I think there are several different issues working against the Grizzlies: working Parsons into the rotation while he tries to get healthy; inconsistent rotations; Conley’s back injury; the regular ups-and-downs of young players; players still getting used to new defensive schemes; etc.. Add all those problems up, and you’re bound to get some inconsistency on the court. The effort on some nights is frustrating, but I think things will get better with time.
Stacie Montero (@staciemontero)- Even when they were winning and playing (decently) well, I still had a lot of questions about rotations and lineups. Some of that is beyond Fizdale's control at this point because of injuries and minute restrictions, but I also wonder if some of it can be attributed to him simply figuring this head coaching thing out. I think he;s done a phenomenal job, and love his approach so far, but that doesn't mean I don't see things sometimes that make me scratch my head.
2. How many All-Star reserves will the Memphis Grizzlies have when the team is announced tonight? How many SHOULD they have?
Mullinax- They will have one, and they should have one. It is Marc Gasol. Mike Conley just moved up the “snubbed list” due to Chris Paul being out, but the list of All-Star caliber back court/wing players is so loaded in the Western Conference that there still likely is not room for him. And that is OK- Mike could use the time off, since there is a real possibility that he’s not 100% back from his back injury.
Hrdlicka- One. One.
Trammell- They will have one and it will be Marc Gasol. Mike Conley will be snubbed yet again and I will be VERY upset. They should have two because Mike has been outstanding this year, but I don’t know how he gets in with such stacked guard depth in the West. Hopefully Chris Paul’s injury will help Conley out (which would be the sweetest victory of all).
Conner- One, and I think that’s the right number. Marc deserves to make the team. Conley is a bit more borderline, and I think the fact that he’s missed a good chunk of games and the depth of good backcourt players in the West, especially at point guard, are too much for him to overcome. Zach Lowe makes a really good case for Conley in his piece, and Conley is having a career year, though, so I don’t think it’d be a travesty if he got in.
Montero- I think they will have one, Marc. But should have two with Mike being the second.
3. Do you feel the Grizzlies NEED to make a trade to improve/even out the roster?
Mullinax- No. The team will get out of this stretch and play better basketball. The wing is a bit cluttered, but that doesn’t mean a trade needs to be made for the sake of getting a back-up point guard. The team has some valuable pieces, and if they’re going to be moved it should be for equal value at this point. The market may not dictate that.
Hrdlicka- Yes. A player who can dribble would be welcome.
Trammell- Nope. It ain’t broke. Don’t fix it.
Conner- Like I’ve said before: I’d like to see them figure out some way to add a wing and/or veteran point guard, but I don’t want them to mortgage the future for the now. For the first time in a while, the Grizzlies look as if they have a path toward a competitive future, and it’d be a shame to ruin that by tossing away one of their promising young pieces right now. Try to improve the team, but please don’t overpay.
Montero- A back-up PG would be nice. If they aren't comfortable with who they have available to fill that role currently (and my opinion is that they’re not), then yes, they need to make a trade to prepare for the last stretch of the season and the playoffs.
4. The Grizzlies head out on a six-game road trip starting Friday. What is a realistic expectation for them in terms of record on the trip?
Mullinax- 3-3 is realistic. They take on the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves over the span of nine days. There are likely scheduled losses in there (Utah and Minnesota stand out), but Phoenix and Portland are struggling right now, and Denver and Minnesota are not as good as Memphis when the Grizzlies are playing well...which they aren’t right now.
So, 3-3. If they can do that, it was a successful trip.
Hrdlicka- You could talk me into anything coming out of those games, but I'm hoping for 3-3.
Trammell- I think they go 3-3. Win at Portland, then loss on the second game of a back to back (SEGABABA) at Utah. Win at Phoenix, loss at Denver. Loss at Oklahoma City, win at Minnesota on another SEGABABA. The Grizzlies are better than all of these teams and could sweep the trip. But on a long road trip like this one, especially with long travel to Salt Lake City, Denver, and Minneapolis, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they go .500.
Conner- I’d be happy if they managed to go 3-3. There’s a chance they get to 4-2 if they play well (and consistently), but I’m not holding my breath.
Montero- I want so badly to believe 3-3 but I'm mentally preparing for 2-4.