Game On: Grizzlies @ Hornets

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Published: January 19, 2011

Matchup: Grizzlies(19-22) @ Hornets(26-16)

Off Efficiency: Grizzlies 101.9(22nd), Hornets 102.4(20th)
Def Efficiency: Grizzlies 102.7(13th), Hornets 99.6(4th)

The Grizzlies have an okay defense, but for a team with Randolph and Gay, who both have a reputation for being scorers, their offensive output is pretty lame.  One of the primary reasons for that is the teams propensity for turnovers and inability to force turnovers by their opponent.  So far this season, the Grizzlies turn the ball over on 16.10% of their posessions, and force turnovers on 13.43% of opponents posessions.  That differential is the biggest in the league this season.

Offensively, Memphis is a load in the paint behind Randolph, Gasol, and Gay’s penetration, and that’s good because as a team they are terrible shooters.  They take the third most shots at the rim of any team in the league, and convert them at a pretty good rate.  They also take the league’s second most shots from 4-10 feet as well, though this is apparently where their range begins to falter.  They are the 9th worst team at hitting shots from that range, and from there out, they are in the bottom half of the league at shooting efficiency.  Despite their weakness shooting the ball, they still take a lot of 20-footers, but they do manage to take BY FAR the league’s lowest number of three-point shots.(12.4 per game)  This is somewhat good for them, since they are also the league’s 4th worst set of marksmen from that distance.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Hornets can keep the Grizzlies on the Perimeter.  If they can accomplish that, the Hornets have a great chance to win.

Injuries

Grizzlies: Tony Allen is day to day.
Hornets: None

Positional Analysis

PG: Mike Conley v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Conley is playing better than he ever has, which is still damning him with faint praise.  He’s a poor shooter, draws few free throws, and isn’t called on by the team to do a whole lot of playmaking since it’s primary shooters – Gay, Randolph, and Mayo – are all isolation guys who rarely work off of someone else.  Paul has been struggling mightily the past few games with a weak ankle, but I still can’t give Conley an advantage here.

SG: Sam Young v Marco Belinelli
Advantage: Hornets
The Grizzlies have been playing Sam Young at shooting guard now that Mayo is coming off the bench and Tony Allen is having trouble with his ankle.  Marco has been up and down, but at least he has a definable basketball skill or two.  Young can’t dribble, he’s a poor shooter, he rarely passes, and he turns the ball over a lot.  About the best I can say for him is he hustles, and his rebounding is slightly better than average for shooting guard.

SF: Rudy Gay v Trevor Ariza
Advantage: Grizzlies
Ariza actually has a history of shutting down Gay – enough of one that Chip from the Truehoop Blog 3 Shades of Blue has commented to me about it on multiple occasions.  Still, Ariza is so inconsistent with his own offense I have a hard time giving him the edge over Gay in his best season yet.  Oh – and that is also damning Gay with faint praise.  He’s more efficient than he’s ever been, but he’s still not even scoring at David West’s level of efficiency, much less the level of efficiency you’d want from a lead scorer paid like a superstar.  Oh, and he doesn’t pass or rebound or get many steals for the number of minutes he’s on the court.

PF: Zach Randolph v David West
Advantage: Grizzlies
This is a razor-thin advantage here, and it goes entirely to Randolph’s mastery of the boards.  West is a more efficient scorer, better passer, and . . . brace yourself . . . a better defender than his opponent in this game.  Still, I think that’s over-ridden by the fact that Randolph is a monster rebounder, and will be hard for the notoriously-weak-on-the-boards Fluffy to keep from cleaning up the glass.

C: Marc Gasol v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Hornets
Marc Gasol is having a bit of a down year after last year, but he’s still a fine center with a nice passing touch and solid ability to finish around the basket.  Okafor, however, is having a stellar month of basketball and though he’ll give up some size to Pau’s little brother, I expect him to outplay him tonight.

Bench
OJ Mayo, Darrell Arthur, Xavier Henry, Grievis Vasquez, Hasheem Thabeet
Jarrett Jack, Marcus Thornton, Willie Green, Quincy Pondexter, Jason Smith
Advantage: Hornets
If you want to find the rare bench worse than the Hornets, then Memphis may be the place to look.  Mayo is a combo-guard who doesn’t pass, doesn’t rebound, and has been less efficient than Trevor Ariza at shooting this season.  Xavier Henry is a shooting specialist rookie who has managed to be even less efficient shooting the ball than OJ Mayo.  Then there’s Grieviz Vasquez, who is even worse than Henry.  Really.  Oh, and Hasheem Thabeet apparently forgot how to rebound. If he played starters minutes(36 minutes) he’d be averaging 6.4 rebounds per contest.  He’s 7’3″.  The only reserve on the Grizzlies I wouldn’t mind having around would be Darrell Arthur, who is providing a decent amount of scoring punch and rebounding as a backup power forward.  Not great, just decent.

With Jack becoming comfortable with this team, and Monty appearing willing to play whichever of Green or Thornton is producing, I expect the Hornets bench to do alright against Memphis.

Enjoy the game.