Don’t look now, but the Grizzlies have won four of their last five games. Before you get too excited, that only makes them 5-9 on the season since they did start off 1-8. On top of that, their one loss over this recent five game stretch came against the only team that they played with a record above .500. However, when you are a young team with a lot of inexperience, you tend to focus on any positives that you can find and right now this could be a positive step for Memphis. This is a young team that is going to have good stretches and they are going to have bad stretches. There is no question that the Grizzlies have talent. Rudy Gay is very talented, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have done a pretty good job in the post and O.J. Mayo is still coming into his own. However, despite this positive stretch, it’s hard to see the Grizzlies staying consistent enough to make any noise in the Western Conference.
Now, I know that they haven’t played the best of competition and this could just be a complete coincidence, but has anyone noticed that this run of games started around the team that the Grizzlies decided to part ways with Allen Iverson? Iverson is out of Memphis and now the Grizzlies are actually playing like an NBA team. Coincidence? Maybe it is, but it certainly seems like Iverson did more off the court to cause a headache for the organization, the coaches and the players than he ever did on the court for the Grizzlies.
Lionel Hollins joined WHBQ in Memphis to talk about the good play recently by his team, the decision to draft Hasheem Thabeet and pass up players that have played better, and parting ways with Allen Iverson.
On what has changed over this stretch of games:
“Well I think that the togetherness that we’ve shown and we’ve improved our defense. The ball is moving, we’re executing a lot better, we’ve cut down on our turnovers and just the whole ball of wax that we were having trouble with at the beginning of the season has changed and just our spirit and our attitude has gotten better.”
On the play of the frontline:
“The frontline has played spectacular. We usually start the game by going inside and it goes from there. They’re all pretty good passers and they all post up well. All three can step out to a certain degree. Rudy can step out to the three point line and shoot the ball. (They’ve) Just done everything that you would want them to do.”
Drafting Hasheem Thabeet:
“Every year people can say that all those guys who were in the top 15 in the draft or the top 10, discussed about where we were or who we should take, Brandon Jennings was probably the least talked about because he had been overseas and hadn’t played very well. But everyone thought that Tyreke (Evans) was going to be a good player, and Johnny Flynn. You had (James) Harden. All the guys who were up there drafted were discussed and debated. With our team the way it was last year, we felt we needed to add some wing players and we needed to add some defensive players. Hasheem was the guy who was blocking all the shots in college and we felt like he would be able to do that in the NBA and still feel that way. He’s probably further behind than all of those guys and you are going to get a lot of debate on us taking this guy or that guy because big guys usually do take a little bit more time. The fact that his inexperience in the games lends for him to be even further behind, but I think that he has come a long ways, he has played well when he is in there. He gets a lot of bogus opportunities, he just walks into the fouls, he pushes people and he’s so big. He commits fouls that in a year or two he won’t be committing. But those other guys are good players, that’s just the way the draft goes and you have to live with the decisions that you make. Hopefully he will pan out the way we think he will, we believe that. He’s not going to be the dominant 30 point scorer, but we think that we had scoring and needed something else to shore up the rest of our game and he’s done that so far.”
On the failed Allen Iverson experiment:
“I don’t know how anyone can blame the organization. Obviously we went into it thinking it would work out, but it didn’t, so it’s disappointing in that you try to do something to help your team and it doesn’t, so that’s disappointing. We have moved on and there is no discussion about Allen Iverson anymore. We did our homework and met with him and asked all the right questions and got all the right answers, but obviously it didn’t work out and we just move on.”