The Grizzlies’ Nick Calathes Experiment, if you want to give it a name, continues. Brought in after playing four years in Europe to be Mike Conley’s backup at point guard, he has been playing more minutes in the wake of Conley’s bruised thigh.
Even before then, the Grizzlies were looking to give him opportunities to play and grow. He’s had good moments here and there and scored a career-high 10 points in the loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 17. Eight days earlier, he made a career-best eight assists in a victory over the Orlando Magic.
But there have been many uneven stretches, more periods of bad play than good. Calathes is 6-6, so he has some length. But he’s struggled to stay in front of people or to consistently stick with his man through the entirety of possessions.
Offensively, he dribbles too much and sometimes seems to miss the easy play while in search of a more difficult play. But he’s had some highlight passes, too, and against the Lakers made a couple of nice cuts to the lane where forward Zach Randolph fed him for easy layups.
“I was more aggressive,” Calathes said after making 4 of 6 shots from the floor in 20 minutes against the Lakers with two rebounds, one assist, two steals, and two turnovers. “That’s what I need to be.”
Wednesday, Dec. 18, in another loss at Dallas, he went scoreless and 0-for-4 from the floor with four assists and two turnovers in almost 18 minutes.
Love the 3-point shot? Hate it? Whichever side you’re on, you’ll want to check out “Life Beyond the Arc” at www.grantland.com. And yes, the Grizzlies get a mention. A brief one. The subject is 3-point shooting, after all.
“Chicago and Memphis are among the league’s most 3-phobic teams for the second straight year, mostly because they lack multiple shooters.”
The Lakers had a Memphis flavor when they played at FedExForum with former Tigers player Shawne Williams and ex-Grizzlies Pau Gasol and Xavier Henry.
The Lakers are Williams’ fifth team in six NBA seasons, as he has had struggles on the court and off. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni coached Williams in New York and welcomed the addition of the 6-9, 230-pound forward. This season, Williams has been averaging about five points and four rebounds in 18-19 minutes per game.
“I like Shawne,” D’Antoni said. “He battles. He gives you everything he’s got. Now he has to get better like the rest of us. He came through the summer out of shape and overweight, but he’s gotten himself in great shape. So I’m proud of him. He’s a good a guy, a stand-up guy in the locker room. If he plays bad, it’s his fault and he takes the responsibility.”
The Grizzlies drafted Henry, a 6-6 guard-forward, with the 12th overall pick in the 2010 draft. He played just 38 games for Memphis and was traded to New Orleans in January of 2012 as part of a three-team deal that brought power forward Mareese Speights to the Grizzlies; Speights has since moved on, too.
With the Lakers battling so many injuries, Henry has had to play some point guard and coming into the game at Memphis was averaging 9.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 assist. Asked about Henry’s recent elevation in point production, D’Antoni said: “He’s got the ball all the time and he puts his head down and goes. We still have got to get him a little more consistent on passing the ball and not trying to hit a home run every time.
“But I think he’s playing well. Being point guard will help him develop game even more. Just making the right play and not go up against a brick wall and get laid on his back and the ball going over the top of the backboard.”
Slowpokes. At www.nba.com you can find many advanced stats, including pace of play. The league is averaging 96.5 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes. Philadelphia leads at 100.92 possessions per 48 minutes. It hasn’t helped the Sixers win much. Minnesota is second, at 100.34 and hovering around .500. Oklahoma City, an NBA title contender, is third at 99.37.
The Grizzlies? Last, at 92.20, just behind the woeful New York Knicks at 92.48. But the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, who are also title contenders, are in the bottom half of the rankings at 95.72 and 95.05, respectively.