Court Vision: Grizzlies evolve beyond grit and grind; a most hideous offense
By Rob Mahoney
• Over at TrueHoop, Kevin Arnovitz essentially writes the book on the 2012-13 Memphis Grizzlies. What begins with this vivid (and utterly Arnovitzian) description of Memphis’ defensive operation winds through virtually every facet of the Grizzlies’ play — including their newly efficient offense:
By the time the Memphis Grizzlies are through mucking up your half-court possession, your offense looks like an unmade bed.
Your floor spacing is terrible, in part because Tony Allen brutalized your best wing, who never got to his intended destination. Not that it matters all that much, because Mike Conley has hounded your point guard so far to the sideline that the ball is now in a different area code. The passing lanes are clogged. Zach Randolph’s rump has pushed your big man off the block and all you’ve got is a morass of bodies that’s flailing around or gathered in a clump in some undesirable location.
With the clock ticking, the ball might land in the first row off a panic pass, or get picked off by Conley or Allen, or maybe the buzzer sounds and the ref will pat his head signaling a 24-second violation.
You didn’t come close to getting what you wanted — you got Grizzed.
• In light of the Wizards’ 16-point loss to the Bobcats, Mike Prada of Bullets Forever elaborated on a hideous truth of Washington’s offense. The particularly juicy bit: In this particular game, the Wizards converted just nine scoring possessions out of 46 spot-up opportunities.
• Dan Devine, in a thorough and level analysis of the New York Knicks’ 5-0 start, offered a particularly interesting bit concerning how opponents’ initial defense on Raymond Felton can shape the entire Knicks’ offense:
For the most part, the Heat, 76ers and Mavericks — possessed of fleet-footed defenders like Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Jrue Holiday and Darren Collison — chased Felton over screens, tending to push him toward the basket on drives, and the Knicks point guard has handled such scenarios well. Felton ranks 12th in the NBA in points produced as a ball-handler in the pick-and-roll this season, according to Synergy Sports Technology, and when his at-the-rim offensive options get cut off, he’s been finding shooters after penetrating, assisting on a career-high three three-pointers per game, according to Hoopdata.
The Magic, guarding him primarily with Moore and backup Ish Smith, mostly stepped back, banking on Felton’s aggression to take over; while Felton found success in that third quarter, his approach also triggered a one-and-out style that resulted in just 15 assists on 41 made New York field goals — a 36.6 percent assist rate that pales in comparison to the 55.7 percent mark they’d managed through four games thanks to all those ball swings. There’s a better-than-good chance that other teams will follow suit, and if Felton’s frequent firing retreats from the 39 percent clip at which he’s hitting three-pointers now toward the 33 percent career mark he carried into the season, the Knicks’ sterling offensive efficiency could plummet quickly.
• Kyle Singler has moved into the starting lineup, meaning that the Pistons finally have some semblance of offensive spacing.
Part of growing up is calling a personal truce with the expectations of society. As youngsters we may imbibe of various things, dress weirdly, play class-clown, but eventually the world and The Man get their way, as they must. You will play by the rules or you will wait tables into your forties. Society breaks even the wildest of horses; there are a lot of movies about this. But there are, for the vicarious transgression of those tamed citizens, even more movies about outlaws and anti-heroes. The outlaw sees the way the rules are set up and decides do the opposite. We ride along, on the page or in a movie theater or wherever, at a safe distance. Then we get back to work, grateful for the time we spent outside everything.
That is where Rasheed Wallace lives, and what he gives us.
• Steve McPherson analyzes Phil Jackson as a destructive force equivalent to the harbingers of science fiction.
• A glimpse into the Andray Blatche experience, courtesy of Devin Kharpertian:
Andray Blatche threw a pass 20 feet into the stands. Andray Blatche blocked two shots in one possession. Andray Blatche threw a shot straight off the backboard and watched it carom feet away from the hoop. Andray Blatche threw a perfect fake and nailed a reverse layup. Andray Blatche dribbled behind his back for no reason and gave the ball away for a fast break. Andray Blatche lost the ball, regained possession, and hit a fadeaway as the shot clock expired for the Nets’ final points. None of the world made sense, and thus all of it was right.
• Beckley Mason catalogues some of the NBA’s biggest pests — including a surprise inclusion of a player who manages to be pesky with his offense.
• Among other things in this piece from Ian Levy: a great examination of what made Darren Collison such an ineffective pick-and-roll scorer in Indiana.
• An interesting bit of context on the Showtime Lakers, courtesy of Knickerblogger’s Kevin McElroy:
NBA teams completed 213 full seasons in that nine-year span (i.e., the sum of the number of teams in the NBA for each year in the sample). If you sort these 213 seasons by Pace, Showtime’s entries rank 44, 45, 56, 57, 64, 89, 124, 152, and 199. As you might expect, they got slower as they got older. The mean of those nine numbers is 92.2 compared to a sample mean of 106.5. On average, the Showtime Lakers played faster than the average 1980′s team, but not by much. Even their fastest season does not fall in the top two deciles of the sample (Unsurprisingly, the top-five teams in the sample are all Nuggets teams, including every single Denver entry from 1981-82 through 1984-85). Speaking only in terms of pace, Showtime was unremarkable.