Mario Chalmers to Grizzlies Will Not Save Them

Adrian Wojnarowksi of Yahoo Sports is reporting on a finalized deal to send Mario Chalmers (Miami) to Memphis for Beno Udrih.

It is remarkable what the Memphis Grizzlies have pulled off these last few years as they tried to be the outlier. They won 56 games in 2012-13 and went to the Western Conference Finals, losing to the Spurs. They won 50 games in 2013-14 and lost in the first found to OKC, a tough seven game series. They won 55 games last season and lost in the second round to the eventual champs, the Warriors. All of it with a style of play that was more suited for the 1950’s and 60’s than the fast paced, three point shooting brilliance of today’s hyper-energetic game.

Last season, the Grizzlies were 26th in pace, 20th in points scored, 29th in 3-point attempts. The champion Warriors, who beat the Grizzlies in the playoffs, were 1st in pace, 1st in points scored, and 4th in 3-point attempts.

In 2013-14, the Grizzlies were 30th in pace, 27th in points scored, 30th in 3-point attempts. The Oklahoma City Thunder, who beat the Grizzlies in the playoffs, were 9th in pace, 5th in points scored, and 14th in 3-point attempts.

In 2012- 13, the Grizzlies were 30th in pace, 27th in points scored, 30th in 3-point attempts. The Spurs, who beat the Grizzlies in the playoffs, were 6th in pace, 4th in points scored, 7th in 3-point attempts.

No brain surgeon needed to figure out the calculus. A top defense and operating at a snail’s pace with an allergy to the three point shot will engender great regular season success. The question every team asks itself before training camp starts is: can we win 50 games?

The formula is simple: win three out of four games a home and draw even on the road. Memphis did that the past three years. But in the playoffs, you have to score. Three beats two. You can’t win in the playoffs without three point shot makers.

 NBA Champions  3-Point Attempts (Playoffs)  3-Point Percentage (Playoffs)
 Warriors 638  37%
 Spurs  699  29%
 Heat 465  38%


 Memphis Grizzlies (Playoffs)  3-Point Attempts (Playoffs)  3-Point Percentage (Playoffs)
 2014-15  154  31%
 2013-14  107  28%
 2012-13  294  24%

The Grizzlies are a throwback to when centers and forwards were the best players on a team. The last time that style won a title was in 1999 when Tim Duncan and David Robinson took home the trophy. Since then it’s been a guard-center combo, a guard-foward combo, a guard-guard combo. The game has gotten faster and more athletic as teams build with scorers and discredit rebounders.

The Grizzlies vaunted defense has taken a dive. They no longer are the best, ranking 15th, making them average. But average is not winning them games. An offense without much power or punch means they lose by 50 points to the Warriors only because they can’t score. If they could score, they would have lost by 12-18 like everyone else.

Zach Randolph hasn’t averaged 14 points or less in three years, his third season with the Grizzlies. He’s at 14.3 this year. Marc Gasol, hasn’t had a 13 point season (or less) in four years, his third with the Grizzlies. His current 13.3 average is the second lowest of his career.

The rest of the Grizzlies are just as mediocre.

  • Mike Conley: 13.8
  • Courtney Lee: 10.3
  • Matt Barnes: 6.8
  • Brandon Wright: 6.6
  • Beno Udrih: 5.9 (traded)
  • JaMychal Green: 5.9
  • Tony Allen: 5.4

It’s no surprise that the Grizzlies only score 91 points per game. The only team worse are the Philadelphia 76ers. Unlike seasons past, the Grizzlies can’t numb other teams with their pace and defense. They are 27th in pace this season and 23rd in defensive efficiency. They give up 9 more points than they score. They are 29th in 3-point percentage defense. They are 29th in 3-point percentage offense. That is a disaster on every possible level.

What this team is begging for is a coaching change. They don’t have the personnel to change their identity since they just linked themselves to Gasol for the next five years. There are no dominant perimeter shooters out there to pick off a vine. This team is begging for a Tom Thibodeau save. He can get their defense up to reasonable levels.

But the Grizzlies are going the desperate route. They think Mario Chalmers will help. Chalmers has long worn out his welcome in Miami and Pat Riley had been trying to dump him all summer but no takers. He is out the rotation. A team desperate for three point shooting is bringing on board a 9% three point shooter on the season. Good luck with that.

No EMT needed. The Grizzlies offense is dead. Their playoffs hopes are bottom rung only, the contender train has left the station without them. What the Grizzlies really need, if they had any guts or courage, is to blow this experiment up and join the rest of the league.

photo via llananba