Can Jon Leuer save the Grizzlies?

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
Mike Conley 780 3.2 2.4 -0.7
Zach Randolph 682 2.3 0.3 -2.0
Tayshaun Prince 629 1.2 0.1 -1.1
Mike Miller 537 2.3 1.5 -0.8
Kosta Koufos 513 2.0 0.6 -1.4
Tony Allen 456 1.6 2.3 0.6
Marc Gasol 447 1.6 0.8 -0.8
Jerryd Bayless 425 0.6 -0.7 -1.2
Jon Leuer 272 -0.1 0.6 0.7
Quincy Pondexter 270 0.7 0.1 -0.6
Ed Davis 263 1.2 0.8 -0.4
Nick Calathes* 219 -0.3 -0.3 0.0
Jamaal Franklin* 77 0.1 0.1 0.0
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.

"he's offering more than Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos right now. ... With Randolph and Koufos struggling, and Gasol still out with an injury, Memphis should be playing these two more than they have been."

Your unstated assumption here is that it is more likley that Leuer's production so far in 2013-14 will continue than Randolph/Koufos's production will return to their pre-2013/14 form. What is your evidence to support that assumption? Leuer has no history of being a significantly above average player, while Randolph and Koufos both have multiple full seasons of being signficantly above average. It seems much more likely to me that, over the next X games, Randolph/Koufos will outperform Leuer.
It might be time to add Lionel Hollins to the shortlist of "coaches who have a tangible effect on player performance". Has there ever been a team that came back with almost exactly the same roster and played 20 games worse? I know Pondexter is hurt, but Miller is filling his minutes with similar production, and Gasol is a pretty big deal, but they stunk even before he got hurt.

Does anyone think Hollins could be the 2014-2015 COY for Memphis?
The Grizzlies are missing from outside and their two best players play a high low post game. Their issue is similar to the Pistons. Too many players who score from the same spots in the paint and no one who can force the defense outside of the paint.
James, that is true, but that has always been the case and the team has won despite that weakness.
right now, yeah, this is just an unprecedented collapse. i always though hollins was a good coach with, at times, questionable minute allotment (which is supposedly the big reason he's gone, not enough ed davis), but when PRACTICALLY EVERY PLAYER performs SIGNIFICANTLY worse than last year, i have to start thinking the coach may have something to do with it. that, at least, seems more likely than all these players unexpectedly and sharply regressing at the same time for different reasons.

very frustrating season. the roster changes were nothing but an upgrade (a pretty sizable one), and i was excited to be saving money as we employed what i though would be at least a sidegrade (since joerger has been on the staff for years) to coach. in fact i was optimistic he could run the show better than hollins, as joerger is the guy who was supposedly in charge of the defense these last couple years, which is a big part of the team's rise. grizzlies haven't been an elite scoring threat really, but now they can't stop anyone nearly as well as they used to, and rebounding has fallen off a cliff.

i can hardly bring myself to watch games, almost every one has at least one completely terrible flat quarter. would not be surprised at all if we lose to the lakers tonight. they need to get it together. at least i trust the front office more these days...

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