Tenn. – The Memphis Grizzlies are coming off the best season in
franchise history after a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Before
Memphis took off to Nashville for 2013-14
training camp, media day at FedExForum had plenty of chatter, mostly
about basketball — mostly.
Memphis’ best BBQ and music questions were
not off-limits. Guard Jerryd Bayless even reversed his role, quizzing a
reporter about rapper Pusha T. New additions and
former Florida Gators Nick Calathes and Mike Miller confessed a combo
love for rap and county. On the court, though …
1. Memphis is building its team like the team that swept the Grizzlies out of the Western Conference Finals
Memphis majority owner Robert Pera is very open about where he wants this team to go.
we’re trying to do is build kind of a culture and a system similar to
like the Spurs did,” Pera said, “where you can have a great core, then
plug and play pieces in that might not
have been so great in the league, but they become great players. The
Spurs have done that.”
San Antonio complements Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili with the likes of Danny Green, Matt Bonner and Gary Neal.
its bench production not where it needed to be, has added help — and
depth. Center Kosta Koufos traded his starting role in Denver to join
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on the
blocks. Amnestied by the Miami Heat, Miller returned to Memphis to
add not only 3-point shooting, but rebounding and guard flexibility.
From Europe, Calathes may be the much-desired backup point guard starter Mike Conley needs.
said there are strict professional basketball players and there are
other basketball players. He knows which ones he wants here.
you’re kind of inside (the NBA), you realize there’s also a lot of guys
maybe playing basketball by default,” Pera said. “That’s where their
talent led them, maybe for financial
reasons. Maybe they don’t really love the game. They don’t approach it
as true professionals. If you look at what the Spurs did, they created a
culture of absolute professionals.
think if you can create that culture, you can build a team that’s very
cohesive, that can consistently compete for a championship for many
years. We’d like to do that here. We’re starting
to do it I think.”
2. Tony “Grindfather” Allen showing his new Grizzlies “Grindson” the way
are only three players on Memphis’ preseason roster with double-digit
years of experience. Tony Allen is close, with nine. One new face is
trying to make sure when the old Grizzlies
call it a career, one’s impact will remain.
will rarely light up a scoreboard. He has averaged 8.9 points per game
in his nine-year career. But he is the NBA’s most-feared defender.
San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin fell into Memphis’ lap in the
second round of the draft, Franklin quickly let it be known that he
wants to be Allen’s understudy.
been a big father figure,” Franklin said. “He’s been teaching me little
tricks about playing defense. Tony Allen has definitely been the
grindfather to his grindson so far.”
This offseason, Allen
re-upped on a three-year deal to stay in Memphis. His presence has been
a driving force in establishing Memphis’ grit-and-grind identity. The
Grizzlies’ FedExForum home is appropriately nicknamed
the Grind House.
Allen was named to his third straight All-Defensive First Team in May.
always encourage guys. If he wants to wear his hard hat every night
like I do, then salute to him.” Allen said. “And I’m gonna help him.”
3. Grizzlies still plan to grind, just a little bit faster
New Memphis coach Dave Joerger says he plans to run things a little faster on the offensive end of the floor.
won’t be “vomit ball,” as Joerger likes to put it, but more of setting
the offense with 20-plus seconds on the shot clock. But faster can
naturally lead to less defense. Joerger doesn’t
sound like he’ll get too fussy if it takes away a little bit from
Memphis’ league-leading defensive numbers.
and large, when teams play slow, they are better defensively,” Joerger
said. “I don’t expect our defense to go to (No.) 15. It may slip a
couple spots, but what you’re always hoping
is to have a top-10 offense and a top-10 defense.”
led the league in points allowed (89.3) and held opponents to the
third-lowest field goal percentage (.435) in the league last season.
Center Marc Gasol is the reigning Defensive
Player of the Year. Gasol and Conley joined Allen
on the NBA’s All-Defensive roster, both on the second team.
But only nine teams scored fewer points than Memphis’ 93.4. Memphis wants more … but don’t expect Oregon football.
doesn’t mean just to shoot fast,” Gasol said. “It means to get into
your offense quicker, so you’ve got more time to find different options
within that offense.”