VOL. 132 | NO. 15 | Friday, January 20, 2017
The Press Box
Grizzlies Hesitate to Use 3-Point Shooting Bargain
By Don Wade
On Jan. 16, Grizzlies guard Troy Daniels quoted Martin Luther King Jr., posting this on Twitter: “Your self-sacrificing devotion to your purpose in life and your unwavering faith will carry you through times of difficulty.”#MLKDay.
Those words of wisdom can be applied to a multitude of situations, ranging from life-and-death to, in the wake of the Grizzlies’ latest loss at Washington, the curious way in which Troy Daniels again seems to become a hostage on the Grizzlies’ bench.
His sweet-shooting stroke was as much use on that D.C. road trip as unpacked luggage. Or maybe the word we’re looking for to explain all this is baggage, baggage in the form of what the Grizzlies have not received to this point from free agent Chandler Parsons. He, after all, was supposed to be the 3-point shooting game-changer and worth a four-year deal for more than $94 million.
Parsons is pulling down $22.1 million this year, which is $1 million more than Marc Gasol’s salary, and also nearly $1 million more than the combined salaries of Zach Randolph ($10 million), Tony Allen ($5 million), Daniels ($3.3 million), and James Ennis ($2.9 million).
And no, the point of this column is not to bury Parsons just a few months into his time here. He’s coming off a second knee surgery. Sooner or later, he will be much better.
But given how good Daniels has been at times and how ineffective Parsons has been, it does test your faith as a regular observer of Grizzlies basketball games.
Coach David Fizdale was correct to call out his team for again spotting an opponent a double-digit lead only for a furious late rally to fall short in a three-point loss to the Wizards, saying, “You can’t play with the basketball gods.”
Yet, isn’t that what the Grizzlies are doing with the inconsistent way in which they use Daniels? Point guard Mike Conley has called Daniels the best pure shooter Memphis has ever had in his time here. That’s, well, accurate.
At Washington at the buzzer, the Grizzlies had a chance to tie the game when Conley flipped a pass back to a wide-open Ennis for a straightaway three. The ball barely hit the rim. Conley could have passed to Daniels, but that would have resulted in a turnover seeing as Daniels was parked on the bench. It’s where he watched the whole game.
No doubt, Fizdale could lay out Daniels’ various shortcomings that don’t have to do with shooting. And we’ll address some of that in a moment.
But let’s consider the shooting, since that is the reason Daniels is here. He’s averaging 9.8 points per game, shooting right at 40 percent from 3-point range. Remember the Grizzlies erasing a 24-point deficit to win 128-119 in overtime on Jan. 6 at Golden State? Daniels made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and another that gave them a late six-point cushion in overtime. He was 3 of 6 from deep in the 110-105 win at Houston a week later.
This is his value.
Yet after going 0 of 5 on threes against Chicago last Monday in seven minutes of action, Fizdale benched him then and at Washington. Admittedly, Daniels does not do a lot of other things when he’s not making shots. He’s not a rebounder or playmaker and certainly not a defensive stopper.
But all those things are true of Parsons and Parsons is shooting 24.5 percent from 3-point range, or worse than Tony Allen.
And for what it’s worth, Daniels’ defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) is one of the best on the team at 98.5. Allen is at 102.7, Gasol at 103.5, and Conley at 105.2.
Parsons? He’s tied for the worst defensive rating with rookie Wade Baldwin at 106.9.
But Parsons is the $94 million man; he gets the benefit of the doubt as controlling owner Robert Pera waits for some actual ROI.
Troy Daniels? He’s learning all about keeping the faith from his spot on the bench and the wrong side of NBA politics.
Don Wade’s column appears in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.