Toss aside all the obvious jokes about card games and the Grizzlies assembling the league’s strangest cast of characters, and you’ll see one reason — and one reason only — why Memphis is not crazy to take a shot on Gilbert Arenas: He cannot possibly be worse than Josh Selby and Jeremy Pargo have been this season.
An addendum: Mike Conley Jr. cannot play 48 minutes per game, not even in the playoffs, where the Grizzlies have the potential to be a dangerous mid-level seed now that Zach Randolph is back. Conley can log 40 minutes per game when the stakes are high, but that still leaves eight minutes of point guard play, and the Grizzlies have essentially given up hope that O.J. Mayo or even Rudy Gay can fill those minutes capably in place of the Selby/Pargo duo.
The wild cards are obviously Arenas’ uncertain health and conditioning coming off a knee operation similar to the one Kobe Bryant underwent over the summer, and whether the Grizzlies are chasing a big name over a more capable option in the D-League.
For the Grizzlies, the question is always going to be whether they can score enough for their ferocious defense to give them a chance in the fourth quarter against the league’s very best teams. In working out that equation, every minute matters. Scoring something like 10 points in the 15 or so possessions the Grizzlies will have to play each night — at the absolute minimum — while Conley sits could absolutely cost them a close game, and one close game can cost a series.
The Grizzlies rank just 22nd in points per possession, and that number actually obscures how much a team that attempts the fewest three-pointers in the league has struggled to score in the half-court, where they just cannot space the floor consistently. The Grizzlies actually get a fair portion of their offense — a tad more than 14 percent of their possessions — via transition chances, and they have been very efficient in converting those fast-breaks; only two teams average more points per possession in transition, per Synergy Sports. The Grizzlies earn those chances through forcing turnovers on defense, something they do more often than any team, as was the case last season. (Memphis, as an aside, is on pace for the highest opponents’ turnover rate any team has put up since the 1998-99 lockout season.) Read More…