The Clippers and Grizzlies are probably sick of playing each other, and I'm sick of asking questions about the Grizzlies to Memphis bloggers. So I turned to you, the citizens of Clips Nation, to ask this time. Chris Faulkner of Grizzly Bear Blues stopped by to read your questions, and answer the best ones.
Be sure to head over to GBB to see my answers to their community's questions as well.
Citizen pegitom: Mike Conley has been a beast this year and certainly killed us in last years playoff's. Previously his shooting was a huge question mark, but he seems to be hitting his shots now. Not only is he hitting them, but it seems like he is willing to take them at crucial moments of a tight game. So here's my question...Should Conley be an all-star this year? The West is packed with tremendous guards, so please take that into context of your answer.
Chris Faulkner: Mike Conley has definitely turned into a different animal this year. He's shown to have a very aggressive side, he's nearing Derrick Rose levels of body control when going to the rim, and as you pointed out, he's shooting better than he ever has in his career. I have to give you two separate answers here. If you ask my fan-gut, I'd argue that if you thought Conley was a top 5-10 PG last year then he's looking like a top 3-4 PG so far this season. Fan-gut says yes, he's carrying a team that's had an inconsistent bench, injured All-Star big men and a new head coach that's finding his bearings.
But if you're asking my logic, let's take a look here. Last year 3 points guards made the Western All-Stars. Since the Point God CP3 is obviously 1 of the 3, it comes down to Mike Conley being better than 3 of the 5 remaining on the list which I'll tentatively identify as Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard. Glancing through the stats, Conley is on level with all their PPG (save Curry), a bit better than all of them in shooting % (save Parker & Curry) and right around them all in APG (save Curry and Holiday).
But one of the best stats that stands out for Conley is his turnover rate, only 1.8 TOPG, which is noticeably better than all the players mentioned above, including Chris Paul. The season could obviously shake out in so many different ways, but right now I'd argue for Stephen Curry and Mike Conley to claim those last two spots, with Curry having an edge and Parker and Lillard making strong cases.
Citizen Divine Beast: What's your favorite Memphis rap song?
CF: Oh, so many. Let's go with off-the-top-of-my-head - Three 6 Mafia "Stay Fly"
Citizen KidJustin: First thing that came to your mind after Tony Allen's defensive play on Chris Paul during their last game (you know which one I'm talking ).
CF: "Of fucking course." (To clarify, my reaction to TA kicking CP3 in the face was directed at TA, not CP3. It's just one of those ridiculous, unbelievable things that you come to expect with Tony Allen.)
Citizen dthomca02: Who do you see stepping up during Gasol's absence to help the Grizzlies keep up with the rest of the west? And/or who needs to step up but hasn't done so?
CF: The obvious guy is Kosta Koufos, who should be ready for the increased role with his time in Denver last season. The less obvious but perhaps even more obvious player is Ed Davis. Davis spent time in the doghouse (or Dave Joerger Free-Range-Timeout-Facility as we've come to name it) after a poor start, but he's steadily been gaining confidence since Gasol's absence and gives the Grizzlies an athletic presence in the paint. Looking at the backcourt, Jerryd Bayless has got to find his shooting rhythm and be able to give the Grizzlies a consistent 10-15 points off the bench, something he's only done a couple of times so far this season. Mike Miller has done exactly what he was brought in to do for the most part; it's just not showing up in the win/loss columns. He's shooting very well and showing that veteran hustle, but (as with most Griz this year) he's struggled with turnovers in the adjustment to Dave Joerger's new system.
Citizen PV Mike: I know he is tied into the fabric of the community but barring an NBA Championship, do you think it is inevitable that the Grizzlies are going to have to move Zach Randolph as next steps for their future.
CF: Ahh, the $17 million question. There's no doubt that the Grizzlies new FO is determined to responsibly build towards the future, so I can't rule out any potential move at this point. I do know, however, that Randolph has recently said on record that he would be willing to make sacrifices to retire in Memphis. Considering Zach is being paid about $5 million a year between 2012-2017 by the Portland Trailblazers for a deferred compensation, I can't totally rule out that scenario, either.
Many thanks to Chris for these great answers. It's fun having a rivalry with the Grizzlies -- but it will be a lot more fun if the Clippers can go back to winning a few.
There's a lot more basketball to be played between now and the All Star break of course, but I'm sorry to say I don't personally hold out much hope for Conley to make the team -- which is a shame, but just the reality. We'll see if Kobe Bryant and/or Jeremy Lin steals a spot that belongs to another guard, but even if you allot six guard spots in the West, it's a very difficult proposition. Paul, James Harden and Steph Curry are pretty much locks barring something very surprising happening -- and team record is going to be a factor as it always is. The Grizzlies will have to be way above .500 for Conley to get any consideration. Assuming San Antonio and Oklahoma City are at the top of the conference when the coaches vote on reserves, it's hard to imagine Parker and Westbrook not being there. Portland won't have the best record in the West at that point -- but if they're in the top four, it will be difficult to keep Lillard out. And all that to say nothing of Monta Ellis or Klay Thompson.
Like I said when Jrue Holiday was traded to the West, he's not an All Star anymore. Conley would start in the East, but it's a tough, tough business in the West.