We’re counting down the days till the start of the new season, and it’s about time for everyone to be making predictions. This year, instead of just doing one prediction, I decided to go out and interview one blogger for every NBA team.
The bloggers whose opinions we will be graced with over the next few weeks are the best of the best, as all of them have featured in Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie basketball blog’s Blog Association, where Kelly Dwyer has been profiling the best team-centric NBA blogs out there. If you have any inclination of increasing your knowledge about the NBA, these are the blogs you need to read and subscribe to. (I know I will be!)
Today, we are honored to interview Joshua from 3 Shades of Blue. Joshua was kind enough to impart wisdom unto us about the Grizzlies, Lakers, and the NBA in general.
Jonny: Out on a limb, although backing it up with solid reasoning would be cool too, what do you think the ball park for the Grizzlies’ 08-09 regular season record will be?
Joshua: Joshua I think that the ball park figure for the Grizzlies will be 20-25 wins this season. Obviously, when dealing with a very young team, there are so many factors that have a chance to go right or wrong, so it is nearly impossible to predict how they will all play out. There are 7 players on the 13 man roster that weren’t on the team at the end of the 2007/08 season. That means that this team will have to develop chemistry as its young players go through the maturation process. That’s a very difficult two-pronged problem – and we haven’t even gotten to the fact that 4 of the 5 positions on this team are ostensibly up for grabs in training camp. If they could match what they did last year (22 wins), I’d say that was a reasonable result.
Jonny: Again, out on the said limb, what do you think the ball park for the Lakers’ 08-09 regular season record will be, and do you think it will be enough to win the West/Pacific Division?
Joshua: Well, the Lakers went 57-25 last year and were 22-5 with Pau Gasol in the lineup after the blockbuster trade. If Gasol and Andrew Bynum work as well together in the frontcourt as everyone expects and Lamar Odom takes to the 6th man role that he is reportedly going to be in next season, then this team could easily win 62-66 games, provided that there are no serious injury issues. They should be the clear favorites to win their division and it will take a great effort for anyone to best them in the running for the best record in the conference. The only other team really in the picture is the New Orleans Hornets at this point.
Jonny: How do you feel the Grizzlies match up with the Lakers over a 7-game series?
Joshua: Wow…talk about a total mismatch at this point. The only spot that the Grizzlies would have an advantage would be at SF, where Rudy Gay trumps anything the Lakers have to offer from the three-headed monster of Trevor Ariza, Luke Walton and Joe Crawford. The Grizzlies might win 2 of every 7 games they played against the boys from La-La Land. Probably not even that many though.
Jonny: Lakers fans are split down the middle on Odom; some love his versatility, others hate his inconsistency. As an opposing fan, how do you rate Odom?
Joshua: I feel that Odom is best utilized as either a #3 option (as they used him last year post-Gasol acquisition) or as a 6th man whose primary role is instant offense while the starters rest. His versatility has been astounding throughout his career, but I think that it has also led to some of his inconsistency, too. I remember reading a great blog post late last season about how the best thing to do for Lamar would be to limit his options so that he doesn’t have as much running through his head while playing. Limit it to 3-4 options on offense and watch him flourish.
At this point, I think that Odom is a very good PF with a skillset that fits perfectly into the ever-changing NBA landscape where low-post players are a very rare breed. I’d certainly welcome him onto my team.
Jonny: What do you think of Kobe’s decisions to put-off surgery on his injured pinky?
Joshua: I find it somewhat odd. At first, he put it off so that he wouldn’t miss any of the regular season or postseason last spring. Then he needed to be available to play in the Olympics. Now he’s saying that he still doesn’t want to miss any of the regular season for the upcoming year. It doesn’t seem to be affecting him a great deal, so I guess that all anyone can do is trust that he knows himself well enough to know what the best course of action is.
Jonny: What is your perception on Bynum? Lakers fans have him pegged as the next *insert hall-of-fame center*, yet the rest of the league doesn’t seem to hold him in such a high regard.
Joshua: I think he has the potential and talent to crack the “Big Men You Have To Game Plan For” group that is currently inhabited by Yao Ming, Dwight Howard and soon-to-be member Greg Oden. I don’t know that he is a surefire HOF player, but he is almost certain to be one of the Top 5 centers in the game for the next decade. That’s a terrifying thought for the rest of the league, as Kobe continues to become a better player year-by-year alongside him.
Jonny: The Grizzlies got a lot of flack for the Kwame-Gasol trade. Now they’ve made another move by trading away Mike Miller in the OJ Mayo trade. Do you think they gave up too much again, or is this a good trade for the Grizz?
Joshua: I was one of the few that stated that we didn’t get robbed after the trade occurred and continue to maintain that opinion. The Lakers got Pau Gasol, a Top 10 post player who is best suited to be a #2 option on a playoff team and wasn’t leading the current Grizzlies team anywhere. The Grizzlies got a huge expiring contract in Kwame Brown ($9 million) and the equivalent of 4 first round picks (Javaris Crittenton, Marc Gasol, Darrell Arthur and 2010 1st rounder). The Lakers got better instantly and the Grizz will get better in the near future as a result of this trade. I think that Memphis got a lot more in return for their “franchise player” than the Raptors (Vince Carter to New Jersey) or Hornets (Baron Davis to Golden State) got for theirs’ in recent times.
Jonny: How do you rate Javaris Crittenton? A lot of Lakers fans (including me) were bummed about losing him in that deal. Do you think he has what it takes to oust either Mike Conley or Kyle Lowry?
Joshua: I think that Critt is a combo guard whose real position is closer to SG than PG. Granted, I haven’t seen him enough to make that a definitive statement, but that’s my perception to me at this point. To me, Conley is the clear favorite to win the PG position this year and to be the starter there for the next decade. Javaris has tremendous talent, but I’m not sure that his particular skillset will ever translate into him being a starter unless he improves his jumpshot enough to play SG full-time. He is still very young though, so anything is possible.
Jonny: What are your thoughts on the “player exodus” from the NBA to Europe? Do you think a Kobe or a Lebron would ever seriously consider leaving the NBA?
Joshua: LeBron – no. Kobe – ehhh…possibly. The thing to remember about Mr. Bryant is that he spent a lot of time overseas as a kid watching his father play, he is fluent in a few languages and the usual issues that go with Americans playing abroad wouldn’t apply to him as a result of this. With that said, it would take a truckload of money to get it done. Something in the $35-40 million a year range.
I’m not quite ready to call it an “exodus” yet, as only a couple of Americans have made the move so far. Most of the other players were Euros who knew that they could make more money by hopping back across the pond. That was certainly the case with the Grizzlies’ Juan Carlos Navarro, who got 5-6 times as much money in Spain as he would have been eligible for if he had stayed in the U.S. Just more proof that, unless a title shot is a near-sure thing, then players will follow the money. Can’t say as that I blame them.
Jonny: My condolence for playing in the Southwest Division. Do you feel that the Grizzlies’ record gets tarnished somewhat from having to play those 4 other teams more than anyone else in the league?
Joshua: To a certain extent, I do think that they don’t receive enough leeway for playing in the toughest division in the entire NBA. However, that doesn’t mean that they are all that much better than their record the past two seasons either. When I see Heat fans complain about their team’s record last year, while they were in the midst of the most obvious tank job in the history of sports, while playing in the Southeast Division, I just shake my head and laugh. If you put the Grizzlies in the Southeast or Atlantic Division, instead of the Southwest, they would probably win 8-10 more games a year. Again, that’s not to say that they are a good team being hurt by their division, but they are still better than quite a few of the teams in the East who manage to finish with better records year after year.
Jonny: What got you into blogging? How do you feel about it as a news medium?
Joshua: I originally got into blogging for the same reason that most others did – I had something to say and wanted to get it out there for others to see. I started by blogging about personal stuff (my daily life, politics, religion, etc.) on Myspace and then realized that I could do the same thing for my favorite team, since I felt that they were lacking in quality coverage and commentary. Others on the Grizzlies Message Boards, where I was posting regularly at the time, felt the same way. So we joined up to start 3 Shades of Blue in March 2007. It started off slowly, but right before training camp last year; we caught the biggest break in the history of sports blogging and got the opportunity to sit down with Chris Wallace at a Buffalo Wild Wings for 2 hours. Since then, we haven’t looked back.
I believe that blogging, when done responsibly, can be just as valuable a news medium as anything else. For myself and my staff, I tell them to treat their work as though they were paid journalists, even as we are sharing our opinions and having a good time doing it. Because of that approach, the Grizzlies organization has welcomed us in and made themselves accessible to us in a nearly unprecedented manner, as we have gotten the opportunity to interview the owner, GM and coach in the last few months. On a few occasions, we have even broken news before the local media, which is always interesting given that we do this as a hobby.
I think that as print media continues to fade away, blogging will become an accepted medium for all types of news, but especially for the areas of politics, sports and entertainment. More and more quality writers are moving to online media and I don’t see that slowing down at any point in the near future.
Thanks again to Joshua for his time and Insights.. Please DO NOT troll 3 Shades of Blue, even if you think his ideas are totally off base (which you shouldn’t). Remember, on the Internet, you and I represent Lakers fans everywhere. Lets try to give ourselves a good name.