by Kelley D. Evans
Fresh from training camp in San Diego at the University of California, the 2014 edition of the Memphis Grizzlies is a work in progress toward the ultimate goal – NBA champions.
With an open practice at the FedExForum the order of the day on Monday (Oct. 6th), fans got a peak at the evolving team in motion. A few days earlier, head coach Dave Joerger fielded a question about high expectations during Grizzlies Media Day.
“I don’t think there are high expectations for this team,” Joerger said. “We’re the team that nobody’s talking about nationally. There are really good teams in the west…”
By most accounts, Memphis, which fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs last season, is projected to be one of those really good Western Conference teams.
As the players were shuffled in for Media Day interviews, much of the chatter surrounded the desire to win a championship. Players, front office management and coaching staff were on hand to answer questions. To the core of Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen the Grizzlies have added some more veteran pieces to the roster, including the most talked-about person of the day, Vince Carter, and the most intriguing person, Michael Beasley.
Carter’s presence is expected to offset the departure of fan-favorite and sharpshooter Mike Miller to Cleveland. And Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, is riding the lifeline of a non-guaranteed contract.
“We have good depth, we have good experience. Guys keep getting older but are not old yet, with good experience (and) good chemistry.” Joerger said. “With Courtney Lee having a training camp under his belt, with Quincy (Pondexter) coming back and with Vince Carter built in to make shots, that should help us from the wing so that teams don’t cheat as much in the paint on Marc (Gasol) and Zach (Randolph).”
Joerger began his first season as Grizz head coach with a more offensive-based model, but went back to the team’s bread and butter – feeding through the big men in the paint.
“I liked a lot of the stuff we were able to do offensively in the last 25 or 30 games,” Joerger said. “I liked what we did with (point guard) Mike Conley in really encouraging him to be a scorer first. That will help him be more of a playmaker if he is more of a threat offensively.”
- Written by Kelley Evans
- Category: Original