Should The Memphis Grizzlies Change Rotations?


Dec 5, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Tayshaun Prince (21) Memphis Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee (5) and Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) during the game against the San Antonio Spurs at FedExForum. San Antonio Spurs beat Memphis Grizzlies 107 – 101. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies and Grizz Nation have all enjoyed the team’s excellent start to the season.

Memphis stands at 17 wins and just four losses and the New Year still remains weeks away. Some great rival teams have been beaten along the way, including Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers, and Oklahoma City.

But Grizz Nation will not be satisfied anymore with only a strong regular season start. A trophy and increased national attention is what the grizzly bears from the state of Tennessee are striving to achieve.

Yes, this team has been excellent. Exciting. Entertaining, too. We love our Grizzlies. However, when the season winds down, how can this team be prepared for adversity?

This brings up one question.

Should the Memphis Grizzlies switch their in-game rotations up? Even though a rough part of the schedule is drawing near, would this lead to another long winning streak in the near future?

The Grizzlies are currently sitting at a 17-4 record. That is good for a tie of the second-best record in the entire NBA and a winning percentage of nearly 81%.

With Memphis, the defense can almost always be guaranteed to show up regardless of whom is available to suit up in the blue-shaded uniforms. It can be said that the entire roster knows to play lockdown defense first and then figure out the offense later.

Now might be the more appropriate word to use instead of later.

Bench production has been an issue and so has scoring. The Grizzlies do currently rank first in points allowed per game, but they are 15th in their points per game scoring. The team would like for their offense to increase to nearly match their defensive ranking. That would literally be the best of both worlds, but all is well if the Grizz continue to wear down opponents and pull out victories, regardless of how rugged or glamorous the wins come.

This also brings up another subtopic. Tayshaun Prince’s name has been floating around in some trade rumors recently. Lately, there have been some rumbles about the Cleveland Cavaliers being interested in trading for the veteran forward.

Will he stay or will he go? I doubt that the Cavs would be willing to send much to Memphis in return for Prince and I really think that it would be best if the Grizzlies keep him around this season. Prince has been playing very well over the past week now and he is crediting his good health for his high level of play.

Rookies Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes have both experienced some D-League play already, just under two months into their first NBA regular season. Though Adams looks to be a solid contributor as a guard for the Grizzlies, especially on the offensive end, I believe that it is more crucial for Stokes to receive rotation minutes right now.

Jarnell showed an array of moves against the Houston Rockets, scoring 12 points and three rebounds off the bench. Even in an unusual game where it was practically lost before the fourth quarter began, gems like Stokes’ stat line in 12 minutes can shed a light to ways that can pull out wins late in the season.

I believe this is the best squad Memphis has had, and utilizing this roster of all these weapons the Grizz own is of upmost importance. I provide insight on my ideas below.

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  • Points of Emphasis

    Although the Grizzlies have had an excellent start to the 2014-15 season, improvements can always be made. These particular areas are ones that I have noted over the course of the past month that I believe will strengthen Memphis’ chances of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in June and bringing a championship parade through Beale Street.

    • Utilize roster
    • Let Tony Allen grind opponents down
    • Limit fatigue
    • Bench production
    • Play through the post


    From my viewpoint from the stands, here are my recommendations for head coach Dave Joerger, even though he is doing a great job– having the franchise’s best-ever start to the regular season in team history.

    1. Give Tayshaun Prince some power forward minutes.

    Against the Spurs on December 6th, Tayshaun finally produced once he received quality minutes, scoring 20 points in 33 minutes. The Spurs typically have the Grizzlies’ number, but I think this move threw a zinger at San Antonio and kept the Grizzlies in the game.

    2. In tight games, play Tony Allen in the closing quarter or at least the final minutes.

    The majority of NBA fans now know that Tony Allen arguably the best perimeter defender in the league. He will shut the water off on even the best of scorers–Harden, Durant, Curry–it has been done many times now by Allen.

    Grizz Nation has been witnesses to seeing head coach Dave Joerger keeping Allen on the bench late in games, although oftentimes due to subpar offensive play. If Allen is having a poor offensive game yet the game is close down the stretch, he still needs to be on the court to get those critical stops.

    Though this is a seldom issue for Memphis, it could still translate into a couple extra wins over the remainder of the season, and that could be valuable in terms of playoff positioning in the Wild Wild West.

    3. Start Quincy Pondexter or Tayshaun Prince at small forward; slide Tony Allen down to shooting guard.

    This move would place Courtney Lee into the sixth-man position. Lee would be able to provide a big offensive spark off the bench while Pondexter might be able to find his game with the starting unit.

    If Pondexter is falling out of the rotation for the long-term, then perhaps Tayshaun Prince should start at small forward again. Prince has been a difference-maker lately, so it might be a positive move to return him to his starting role.

    Tony Allen’s gritty defense would remain in the starting group in these scenarios so that he can contain the opposition’s top backcourt scorers right from the opening tip of the game. T.A. would be able to focus his defense on smaller, quicker players instead of taller, lengthier opponents, although the Grindfather can shut down nearly anyone on any given night.

    These moves have the potential to improve the Grizz bench and overall offensive punch simultaneously.

    4. Give Jarnell Stokes rotation minutes.

    I believe Coach Joerger should give Jarnell Stokes a trial run in the rotation, maybe against a lesser opponent, to see how well he fairs in something other than garbage time or the NBDL. If he produces well and shows would be a great fit in the second unit, then he should definitely take a few minutes away from Kosta Koufos and/or Jon Leuer.

    Koufos’ name has recently popped up in trade rumors with the Cleveland Cavaliers expressing their interest in the backup center, along with Prince. If the interest becomes more than a rumor, Stokes will find himself in a much larger role than the one he is in now. This adds more substance to the plea to give Stokes some quality minutes.

    With younger guys getting minutes, they will develop and become consistent contributors sooner. This will also make for fresh legs for the veterans come playoff time. Players like Zach Randolph and Vince Carter would greatly appreciate this! After all, Stokes could possibly be Z-Bo 2.0 on down the road.

    5. Play through the post; have Marc Gasol and/or Zach Randolph lead the team in shot attempts per game.

    The Grizzlies have arguably the best frontcourt in the entire NBA. Marc Gasol has developed into perhaps the top all-around center in the association and Zach Randolph is still a top threat at power forward on any given night even though he is at the end of his prime basketball years. Both big men can score in a variety of ways against any team and they are just as effective on the defensive end, too.

    Even if shots are not falling, the ball needs to go through Big Spain or Z-Bo in the post on most possessions. Good outside shots will open up from this, as will paint dominance and free-throw attempts. The Grizzlies have the best chance to win when Marc and Zach take–and make–a lot of shots. In the December 4th loss to Houston, Gasol (eight shots) and Randolph (five shots) combined for just 16 points–hence the road loss.

    The tandem MUST receive at least 15-20 shots in order to challenge and defeat the top teams in their path–any less and the Grizzlies are setting themselves up for another early postseason exit. The Grizz will find greater odds of coming out of the Western Conference if more looks for the big men happen on a regular basis.

    Grinding Forth

    Will we see any of my suggestions become a reality this season? Maybe. Maybe not. Nevertheless, let us hope that these gregarious Grizzlies continue to come up with big wins and fight off adversity. Just maybe we all will be able to tell a tale of majority owner Robert Pera dancing down Beale with a golden trophy in hand as Justin Timberlake is simultaneously dapping up Yo Gotti and other fellow Memphians.

    I feel a celebration coming to Memphis soon.  Do you?

    What changes would you like to see, if any? Grizz Nation, let your sentiments be heard! Please feel  free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

    Go Grizz!