Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen have made the Grizzlies pretty darn good for a while.
New Memphis coach David Fizdale is trying to make them a little better.
With that in mind, Fizdale started Aaron Harrison and Brandan Wright over Allen and JaMychal Green against the Nets on Monday. James Ennis received a DNP-CD. Troy Daniels almost fell completely out of the rotation. Zach Randolph saw far fewer minutes than usual.
The result: A 122-109 loss to lowly Brooklyn, dropping the Grizzlies to 14-14 in the calendar year, and major questions about Fizdale’s experimentation.
Mike Ceide of WREG TV:
What I’m supposed to do? Settle for mediocrity and stay in a .500 mode and not do anything and just be OK with that? That’s the problem with the whole image of this group is that that’s been OK, and if we’re underdogs and we don’t win it, that’s OK. No. I won’t settle for that. I’ll continue to shuffle until I find something that works best to give us the best chance to hold the trophy. And if people don’t like it, they can kiss my a–.
I love Fizdale’s open-mindedness and frankness. He’s not afraid of implementing hard-hitting changes.
But Harrison and Wright? That’s probably too far outside the box.
The Grizzlies biggest problem has been Chandler Parsons, who remained in the starting lineup. Maybe that’s injury-related, and they just need to ride it out and hope he finds his stride. But that’s independent of Fizdale’s changes against the Nets.
I also believe Fizdale is incorrectly blaming Memphis’ mindset for the team only once advancing past the second round despite making the playoffs the last six years. The Grizzlies just never had the talent of the elite Western Conference teams in that span. Memphis was eliminated by teams featuring:
- Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden (2011 Thunder)
- Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (2012 Clippers)
- Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard (2013 Spurs
- Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka (2014 Thunder)
- Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson (2015 Warriors)
- Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Manu Ginobili (2016 Spurs)
That said, there’s something healthy about the head coach refusing to admit his team is at a talent deficit. If Memphis’ roster is too lacking, there’s nothing left to do.
But if the Grizzlies have the underlying talent — or at least believe they do — they can try to play harder and smarter to tap it. Lineup changes might be the ticket.
Next time, just try something a little more likely to succeed than starting Harrison and Wright.