BASKETBALL IS BACK!
Let me calm down. But we made it, four months of misery and now our optimism (and uncertainty) looking forward is pretty high. For the Memphis Grizzlies, the season starts with a home game against the New Orleans Pelicans, tipping off at 7:00pm CT at FedExForum. Zach Junda (@ZacharyJunda) of The Bird Writes, the Pelicans SB Nation affiliate, joins me to discuss the Birds and tonight’s match up.
What are your expectations for NOLA this season?
This is the most important season in franchise history and it had better end with a postseason berth. I suppose in theory there's a scenario where New Orleans is lottery bound again, but the reality is failure is not an option this season. You've got Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins- if the current regime can't figure out how to use them, get somebody in there who can. If New Orleans wastes this opportunity they might as well ship the team off to Seattle.
What are your thoughts on the Jrue Holiday max contract?
See...I wish they hadn't, but like I know they had to, you know? Now is it at least slightly alarming that New Orleans gave the max to their point guard and said "okay now let's go get ourselves a primary ball handler?" You bet! But maybe, just maybe, the Rajon Rondo signing allows Holiday to be the two-guard he was always meant to be. And there's also the issue that New Orleans had to do it. For better or worse Jrue's going to account for about 22 percent of the salary cap.
What are you looking forward to most this season? (Does not have to be NOLA related)
I'm looking forward to basketball mattering in New Orleans for the first time maybe ever. They've got two top-15 players in their primes, this is something that doesn't happen to a franchise like the Pelicans. New Orleans will always be a Saints and LSU football town first, but now people have reason to be excited about the Pelicans. Now they just need the team to live up to expectations.
How do the Pelicans match up with the Grizzlies?
Well I thought New Orleans matched up pretty well with Memphis, then the Grizzlies went out and beat the brakes off the Pelicans 142-101 Friday night. Yeah, yeah preseason and all that but still...dang. I thought/still think New Orleans could end up being a souped-up version of Memphis this year but maybe I shouldn't try and take the Grit and Grind moniker from the OG until they prove otherwise.
What is your prediction for Wednesday’s contest?
Well the Pelicans have two things working against my faith in them Wednesday night: I'm a cynic and Memphis just beat them by 41 dang points a few nights ago. Not having Rajon Rondo will hurt and I have this feeling New Orleans' offense will come out all funky and they'll get dragged into an ugly rock fight with Memphis; and if that happens expect a hideous loss. I hate this team already. The season hasn't even tipped off yet and they're already disappointing me.
Bonus: NOLA has five shooting guards and three point guards on the roster, will size be an issue for this team?
Size will definitely be an issue for New Orleans but not having Solomon Hill could be what dooms New Orleans this year. Say what you want about his offensive deficiencies, Hill was the catalyst to sparking New Orleans' defensive turnaround last season. Fortunately New Orleans has a plethora of plus-defensive guards (Holiday, Rondo when he cares, E'Twaun Moore, Ian Clark and Tony Allen) but if you're asking me "who's going to guard the opponents' best wing player?" I really couldn't tell you. I'm not sure if New Orleans knows.
Thanks again to Zach Junda for joining me. Be sure to follow Grizzly Bear Blues for all Grizz updates throughout the season.