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Blazersedge 2008-09 NBA Season Preview: Grizzlies and Mavericks

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Time to enter the Western Conference.  We begin with the Southwest Division.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Record:  22-60, 5th Southwest Division, 14th in Western Conference

 

Statistical Comparisons

 

Notable:

26th in free throw percentage

28th in opponent scoring (106.9 ppg)

30th in opponent field goal %

28th in assists

28th in steals

28th in turnovers

 

Others:

10th in the league in scoring (100.7 ppg)

24th in ppg differential (-6.2 ppg)

15th in field goal % 

22nd in three-point % 

12th in free throw attempts per game

17th in blocks

19th (tie) in opponent turnovers

Poor offensive rebounding team

Average defensive rebounding team

 

Movement

 

Significant Additions:  Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric, Greg Buckner, Quinton Ross, O.J. Mayo (R), Darrell Arthur (R), Marc Gasol (R)

Significant Subtractions:  Mike Miller, Jason Collins, Juan Carlos Navarro, Kwame Brown

 

Roster

 

Coach:  Marc Iavaroni

 

Key Players

PG:  Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, Javaris Crittendon

SG:  O.J. Mayo, Marko Jaric, Greg Buckner

SF:  Rudy Gay

PF:  Hakim Warrick, Antoine Walker

C:  Darko Milicic, Marc Gasol

 

Comments

 

Memphis’ story is pretty simple:  long on athletes, short on cohesiveness.  Rudy Gay is a special player, one of those Corey Maggette types who just blows you away with his power and skills and doesn’t get major credit for it.  Almost every team in the league would love to have him.  Conley and Mayo make a powerful, though obviously inexperienced backcourt.  Hakim Warrick, though undersized for a power forward, scores and rebounds well.  Kyle Lowry is a nice all-around point guard. The jury’s out on the rest of the team but it’s not like there’s a talent vacuum there.  For a team many consider a doormat they have some promise.

 

The big, gaping, suck-filled maw of doom for the Grizzlies is their defense.  Taking candy from a baby doesn’t describe what opponents did to them last year.  It’s like every night was Halloween and the Grizzlies lived in that big, rich house where they give away full-sized Snickers.  Ding-dong!  Trick or Treat!  Hmmm…twenty points for you and (Oooh!  Aren’t you cute?) twenty points for you too and twenty for the big scary guy and…oh heck, I’ll just give you 120 between all of you and you decide how to split them up.  Experience cures some ills but it’s hard to imagine them being that much better this season.

 

Poor deep shooting and lack of assists also indicate that Memphis isn’t making life easy on its slashers.  Without a great inside presence and without consistent deep shooting opposing teams just have to prevent easy buckets in transition to make sure the Grizzlies can’t score enough to win.  That they finished 10th in the league anyway speaks of their talent.  You just wish they could put a complete game together.

 

Any way you slice it Memphis is going to struggle again this year.  They’re still at least a dynamic frontcourt player away from crawling out of the quicksand and they need to solidify their point guard position too, either by growing the guys they have or acquiring a veteran.  They’re hardly heavy on trade bait (that they’d part with) so it’s a safe bet they’ll need a trip or two more through the draft before their fortunes look up.

Check out Memphis news at 3ShadesofBlue.com

 

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Record:  51-31, 4th Southwest Division, 7th in Western Conference

 

Statistical Comparisons

 

Notable:

1st in free throw percentage

4th in opponent field goal %

29th in steals

5th in turnovers

30th in opponent turnovers

 

Others:

12th in the league in scoring (100.4 ppg)

6th in opponent scoring (95.9 ppg)

10th in ppg differential (+4.5 ppg)

9th in field goal % 

20th in three-point % 

14th in free throw attempts per game

20th in assists

11th in blocks

Average offensive rebounding team

Very Good defensive rebounding team

 

Movement

 

Significant Additions:  Gerald Green, Desagana Diop

Significant Subtractions:  Malik Allen, Tyron Lue, Jamaal Magloire

 

Roster

 

Coach:  Rick Carlisle

 

Key Players

PG:  Jason Kidd, Jose Juan Barea

SG:  Jason Terry, Eddie Jones, Antoine Wright

SF:  Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse, Devean George

PF:  Dirk Nowitzki, Brandon Bass

C:  Erick Dampier, Desagana Diop

 

Comments

 

What a year it was in the West.  You win 51 games, score 100 per game, play really good defense, take care of the ball, and rebound well and still finish 7th in the conference and hear everybody claim you’re falling apart.  True, the bloom is off the rose for the Mavericks.  Nowitzki and Howard are the only stars left in their full glory on a team that used to collect them like Happy Meal toys.  Brandon Bass looks like a fine player on his way up but that’s about it for positive arcs.  Jason Kidd is turning into a shell of his old self.  Terry and Stackhouse still have life but the sun is creeping towards the horizon there too.  Dampier and Diop have never ended up as valuable as people they would be.  Eddie Jones is just old.  It used to be that you could count on the Mavs to make a big splash acquisition at least once per year.  Their splashes are getting smaller and are unable to wash away the reek of Geritol and Ben Gay.

 

Nevertheless, people shouldn’t be talking smack about a 51-win team with Dallas’ credentials.  This is another of those teams that isn’t going to reach the heights again but isn’t going to crumble either.  Outside of Nowitzki, they’re pretty well insured against injuries.  They’re at least adequate at every position.  Rick Carlisle is a fine coach and he inherits a team in a good position to listen to him.  The Mavericks will be a “bar” team for up-and-comers in the conference and possible spoilers for the teams above them.  It’s not a bad way to spend your latter years. 

Read all about the Mavericks at MavsMoneyball.com

 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)