Rejoice in Memphis
May 22, 2007 marked one of the most disappointing days in Grizzlies’ history after the team failed to obtain the 1st overall pick in a draft where the odds were in their favor to do so. In a draft that had two potential superstars in Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, Grizzlies fans all felt a collective punch in the stomach after they saw that they received the 4th overall pick in June’s NBA Draft. Grizzlies’ fans have had a bitter taste in their mouths for nine days now, but that taste should be washed from their mouths after the Grizzlies announced Marc Iavaroni as the team’s new head coach.
Iavaroni is coming from the Phoenix Suns, a team that has set its place in history as one of the NBA’s most prolific offenses to ever play on the hardwood. Since Suns’ head coach Mike D’Antoni installed this type of offense to the Suns in 2004-2005, the Suns have gone on to have a regular season record of 177-69 in three years. Granted, they didn’t win any NBA titles with this dynamite offense. They were, however, able to play fantastic basketball for an entire year without Amare Stoudemire in 2005-2006, and they were contenders for an NBA championship this post-season had it not been for a cheap shot that led to the suspensions of Boris Diaw and Stoudemire. This unique style of play was the reason why Grizzlies management hired Iavaroni over the other potential candidates for this job.
The Grizzlies have all the necessary pieces for Iavaroni to install this effective and exciting offense. Pau Gasol, Stromile Swift, Rudy Gay, Mike Miller, Kyle Lowry, Hakim Warrick, Tarence Kinsey, Dahntay Jones, and Brian Cardinal all possess the right qualities for this potent attack. Some of them, like Gasol, Stoudamire, and Miller, shoot the ball very well. Others, like Swift, Gay, Warrick, and Jones, can finish emphatically and efficiently on fast breaks. The most important thing all of these players possess, however, is the ability to run the floor extremely well. A combination of these three aspects will make the Grizzlies quite reminiscent of the Phoenix Suns. But most importantly, these three aspects will make this team a playoff contender again in 2008.
And did I mention the Grizzlies have the ability to add Al Horford, Brandan Wright, Yi Jianlian, or Mike Conley Jr. to the mix?
Simply put, May 22, 2007 is a day of the past. It was a blow to the team not to get an opportunity at the likes of Oden or Durant. But this team was not an Oden or Durant away from stardom. The Grizzlies made the playoffs three consecutive years prior to this season. Instead, they were one head coach away from stardom. May 31, 2007 will mark the day when they got that coach.