Earlier this week, I sent off 5 questions to Sactown Royalty about the Grizzlies’ new acquisitions- Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans. Much thanks to Akis Yerocostas (@Aykis16) the Editor of Sactown Royalty.
1. Not many people liked the signing of Ben McLemore because of the value of the contract, but I actually thought it was a solid move given his age and potential. What can Grizz Nation expect from McLemore? Is there any room for growth in his game? Especially with point guard stability in Mike Conley.
AY: I guess the good and bad news is that yes, McLemore has room for growth in his game because, his game, even after four years, isn't really all that developed. He has been maddeningly inconsistent in his four years in Sacramento, and while he's made some strides, he's definitely not as far along as we would have hoped the 7th pick in a draft would have been. There was hope that McLemore could become a solid three and D player, and while he shows flashes on both of those ends, he still sometimes looks lost on defense and isn't very reliable on offense.
Perhaps the most improvement he's made in four years has been with his ballhandling, which went from absolutely non-existent to at least passable. I'm actually surprised that McLemore got the contract he did, and it was certainly based on his potential rather than actual merit.
2. Looking at the defensive side of the ball, Memphis has an ingrained culture of defense first. Replacing Tony Allen in this regard is definitely an impossible task, but what have you seen (if anything) with McLemore’s defensive versatility that could comfort Grizz fans, even if it is just a little, in losing TA?
AY: Tony Allen was an all-world defender. Ben McLemore is not going to replace that, but if he finally figures it out, he's got the athleticism and size to be a good defender and has shown flashes on that end, just not consistently enough.
3. Switching to Tyreke Evans now. What kind of growth/decline have you seen in him comparing his first years with Sacramento to now? All depending on if he stays healthy, could the Grizzlies get anywhere near him channeling his inner 2010 Rookie of the Year level?
AY: The Tyreke Evans we saw in Sacramento for 25 games last year was a lot different than the one we saw for his first four years. For one, his outside shot (at least when he's spotting up) looks remarkably better. He hit a remarkable 43.8% of his threes with us over that 25-game stretch. The bad thing, however, was that he looks like he's lost a step due to his multiple injuries, and his former strength, getting to the rim, has waned. If he can get into better shape and regain some of that speed, he'll have a real chance to be a real solid role-player and secondary ballhandler off the bench. I think Memphis got him on a steal of a contract, especially if he's healthy.
4. Rebounding has always been a weak spot on the Memphis roster. Can Evans help with this problem? At 6’7”, how has Evans looked as a rebounding small forward?
AY: Tyreke's an above average rebounder for a guard, and probably right about average for a Small Forward. The good thing about him rebounding the ball is that when he grabs it, he'll push the ball up himself thanks to his playmaking background. He can be an excellent Point Forward, even though that's probably not his natural fit.
5. Anything else we need to know about these two?
AY: Both guys are extremely easy to root for, although McLemore was frustrating for a fan base that had so much expectation placed on him as a lottery pick. Those expectations are shed for him now, and he has a fresh start with some seasoning under his belt. Hopefully, he figures it out in Memphis.