In our pre-season previews we had the Grizzlies winning 57 games. With a 10-13 record -- and a point differential more like an 8-15 team -- Memphis hasn't lived up to our expectations.
What exactly has changed from last season?
|Player||13-14 Minutes||Wins @ 12-13 Level||Wins @ 13-14 Level||Difference|
|After 23 games||16.4||8.6||-7.8|
|82 game projection||58.5||30.7||-27.8|
*Player is a rookie in 2013-14 and did not play in 2012-13.
Please note that statistics do not include games played on Dec. 16th.
Well...pretty much everything. The only two players who haven't declined significantly are Tony Allen and Jon Leuer. As it stands at the moment, Memphis is on pace to win 31 games this season; if the minutes were the same and everyone on the roster was playing like they did last year, that number would be 59 games instead.
Part of the reason why our preseason prediction was lower than 59 wins was that we factor age into the equation. The Grizz are fielding quite a few older players -- Zach Randolph, Tayshaun Prince, Mike Miller, and the aforementioned Allen -- who were likely to suffer from age-related decline. So we shouldn't be surprised that some players on the roster are offering less this year. But a decline from nearly everyone on the roster is pretty amazing.
So what can the Grizzlies do? Per minute, their most productive players are Tony Allen, Mike Conley, Ed Davis, Mike Miller, and Jon Leuer. Everyone else on the roster has offered less than the average player. Allen, Conley, and Miller are already in the top six on the team in minutes and play SG, PG, and SF, respectively. But Jon Leuer and Ed Davis are both young big men who currently rank 9th and 11th in minutes played. Why not give them more minutes?
Especially given Jon Leuer's play lately. Take a look at Leuer's Points over Par (PoP) on the season:
Before November 30th, Leuer had played in six games. In each of these games Leuer played fewer than 15 minutes, and his average PoP48 was roughly equivalent to that of the very worst performers in the league. Since November 30th, Leuer has played in eight games. In each of these eight games he was on the court for more than 20 minutes, and his average PoP48 has been better than that of LeBron James. So Leuer has gone from performing like one of the worst players in the league to performing like one of the very best.
Can he keep it up? Probably not. But he's only 24, and he's offering more than Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos right now. For that matter, so is Ed Davis -- although it should also Davis has been injured recently. With Randolph and Koufos struggling, and Gasol still out with an injury, Memphis should be playing these two more than they have been.