In a relatively bigger off-season than usual, the Grizzlies did their share of strange moves.
It started in drafting Hasheem Thabeet, a player many experts see as a high-risk, high-reward draft pick and one that was extremely disappointing in the Summer League.
Next came acquiring Zach Randolph, a talented big man with great stats, but a lengthy track record. Randolph has been heavily criticized for his lackluster defense and cancerous attitude.
The Grizzlies looked like they were set for this season, at least in the starting lineup. That is when a new name started buzzing around, NBA All-Star, Allen Iverson.
Iverson is arguably the best scoring combo guard in NBA history, but he has lost part of his step that made him such a dominating scorer in the past. As a 13-year veteran, Iverson does not have the same speed and athleticism that he had in his prime.
Finally, Iverson settled with the Grizzlies signing a one-year deal worth around $3.5 million to $4.5 million a year. Other teams such as Charlotte, Miami, and New York were also interested in Iverson.
As every player in the NBA, there are pros and cons of their particular services. Iverson brings plenty of both to the table.
Improves the offense: The Grizzlies had the fifth worst offense in the NBA last season averaging a little over 93 points per game. Iverson had a down year last year, but Detroit was a nightmare. He still has it in him to average over 20 points per game.
The Grizzlies starting lineup will be loaded with scorers with Mayo, Randolph, Gay, and now Iverson. Randolph and Iverson could help the Grizzlies become one of the best offenses in the league. Defense is a different story.
Brings Experience: Iverson is playing for his fourth team in the league, has been in the playoffs numerous times in his career, and has even been part of an NBA Finals team.
Iverson has never been known to be a leader in the locker room, but being a 13-year veteran and a typical playoff performer, Iverson brings some much needed experience for one of the youngest teams in the league.
Serves as a Mentor: Love him or hate him, Iverson is one of the all time greats. He is a lock for the Hall of Fame and one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the league. Iverson is a type of player young high school kids model their game after.
There is plenty to learn from in the way Iverson plays. Conley showed a lot of potential last season when Lionel Hollins took over the head coaching job. This season looked like Conley’s year to breakout and take over as Grizzlies full time point guard.
Whether Iverson starts point guard or shooting does not matter, Conley will no longer be the starter. There is one positive situation out of this move, Conley may learn from Iverson.
Conley has always lacked the mental toughness for the point guard position and has never really been very aggressive driving to the paint. Iverson has made his career of those two attributes.
It did not exactly work to perfection with Rodney Stuckey in Detroit, but it cannot go much worse, can it?
Improves the team’s marketing: Iverson may be declining but he still has one of the biggest fan bases in the NBA and can put people in seats. It has only been a few weeks since Iverson’s signing, and ticket sales are already up in the FedEx Forum.
The Grizzlies were ranked second to last in ticket sales last season. Iverson can only help the Grizzlies get more viewers in the FedEx Forum and on television.
Only a one year deal: If Iverson does more harm than good for the Grizzlies, at least we know it will be short-term harm. His new contract only keeps him in town for one season unless he renews his contract, which does not seem likely.
Iverson’s defense: When Iverson was signed, Grizzlies fans certainly did not expect for a Shane Battier or Bruce Bowen type of perimeter defender to come to place, but Iverson’s defense certainly is not something to model after.
Iverson loves playing off of his man and often goes after risky steals and gambles in the passing lanes.
Sre, it may cause a few more fast break points, but his man goes for career nights against him in the progress.
Conley certainly is not a great defender ether, but he at least stays with his man and does not take too many chances.
“Me first” Attitude: Iverson has never been known to be the most humble person on the court and has had his share of arrogant statements.
No one can forget his practice rant while he was playing for the 76ers or even the statement he made before signing with the Grizzlies where he mentioned he would rather retire before playing off the bench.
The Grizzlies already have plenty of players with the same attitude as Iverson. Clashing troublesome and vocal egos together is never a good idea.
Already plenty of scorers: The Grizzlies had one of the best scoring duos in the league last season with Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo, yet the team only averaged a little over 93 points per game.
To fix the scoring problems, Grizzlies management traded for Zach Randolph who can average at least 20 points per game and Iverson, who most expect to average at least 15.
None of the four players have been known for passing the ball an awful lot and they all love to have their shots.
With four players who can average over 20 points per game, but do not pass the ball often, the Grizzlies may average the least amount of assists per game in the league.
May slow down young players' development: In a perfect world, Iverson would serve as a mentor and the young players would only learn from his presence. Unfortunately, some of the young players playing time will go down.
Iverson is a combo guard who can easily start at both point guard and shooting guard. Obviously, Mayo will not go to the bench, so the odd man out will be Mike Conley.
Conley may learn by having Iverson by his side, but playing time is really the only way for a young player to get better. Iverson will most likely be in Memphis for only a year so Conley will not suffer too much, but his development will likely take a hit.