The Memphis Grizzlies have been blessed with many things. They have an incredible fan base, they play in a basketball city, and have enjoyed a nice stretch of success up until last season. Another thing the organization is blessed with is their media. Grind City Media and the Fox Sports team are very talented.
Among their media team is one of the best radio voices in the entire association, Eric Hasseltine. Eric has a unique, and probably more accurate, grasp on what is going on with this team. From getting to chat with players and coaches to seeing them practice and play, he offers some realism to the social media extremism that is out there.
I asked Eric 5 questions and he graciously gave 5 thoughtful takes.
1.The tone seems to be shifting about the job the front office is doing. Do you believe the draft, trade, and signings this summer is enough for the Grizz to fight for a 5-8 seed in the West next season?
Eric: The moves are enough to compete yes, but the key as it has always been, is staying healthy. Something unfortunately they have not been able to do in recent years. The fact is the west is loaded. Paul George stayed in OKC, Portland will still be solid, Minnesota has issues because of the Jimmy Butler situation, New orleans should be better with their moves, and Denver is expecting to make a run. Those teams all had better records and aside from Denver, were playoff teams last year. Even if they are significantly better, the playoffs are going to be a battle to say the least.
2. Do you feel returning to Grit N Grind and going against the flow of the NBA is the right move or are we handcuffed to the past and ok with just playoff appearances?
Eric: It’s the right move for this roster. The way it is constructed, they can not run the way Houston or Golden State or even OKC does. So they went back to what they have done well, and added some high IQ guys while parting ways with others that were not fitting in their roles. I laugh when people say just making the playoffs. That’s no something to just scoff at. Sure, you want to fight for a title, but you can’t put up a fight if you aren’t in the playoffs. 7 straight playoff appearances is something to have been proud of.
3. How much can we realistically expect from Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jevon Carter this season?
Eric: It will be interesting to see how their roles develop over the year. I think, based on his size and what he showed in the summer, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Jackson’s role increase rapidly. I felt Carter got better each game out in summer league play. Point guard is the toughest position in the game to walk into. He will learn the little things like moving the ball quickly in play sets, whom to press and whom to ease back a little on, where his teammates like the ball and how to control the tempo of the game. Personally, I love his toughness and his overall game, but like any young point guard, he has some things to learn. But who better to teach him than Mike Conley?
4. Was Dillon Brooks’ season a product of a lost season or can he be a key role player for a playoff team?
Eric: I don’t think it’s fair to say it was a product of a lost season. Other guys could have taken more of a scoring role but they didn’t. Dillon really blossomed post All-Star break and a lot of rookies take steps back because of the length of the season. Their bodies aren’t accustomed to playing 82 high level games. I certainly think he is a rotation player on a good team and to get him via a second round pick was a great find for the Grizz.
5. What are you looking forward to seeing most this season with this team?
Eric: I don’t know that there is one thing in particular. I am excited for Coach Bickerstaff to have full control and a training camp to implement his vision. Im eager to see how Mike Conley gets back into the flow. Almost a full season off is a lot for any player. Of course I am eager to see the rookies and new faces as well as Marshon Brooks, who now has had time to be with the organization.
The crazy thing about this is I am truly just eager to get back to work and watch our guys compete and feel the energy the fans can bring. Once the season ends, it’s nice to have a little break but after about a week you miss the games. You miss the players coaches and most of all the second family that is our broadcast team and travel group. It’s truly a special group and a special city to work in.
A special thanks to Eric for the time he took answer these questions. The season can’t start soon enough!