The Memphis Grizzlies, as you might expect, weren’t interested in making a huge splash in the NBA this summer. They entered the off-season having identified the areas that they needed to address and quietly, as well as craftily, addressed their needs and are a better team for it heading into the 2013-2014 season.
Obviously one area the Grizzlies were looking to improve upon with their moves this summer was to find more consistent outside shooting on the wings. When Mike Miller was waived via the amnesty clause by the Miami Heat, the match between the Grizzlies and the veteran sharpshooter seemed predestined. Miller wasn’t the only addition for Memphis this off-season, though, as they also quietly lured point guard Nick Calathes over from Europe to backup Mike Conley, another area of concern.
One of the issues the Grizzlies have faced in recent seasons is consistent point guard play off of the bench behind Conley. Conley has emerged as one of the better guards in the league, but when he goes off the floor, Memphis takes a noticeable hit. Bringing in a player like Calathes, who averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 assists in Russia last year, seemed like a necessary and quality decision for this Grizzlies team.
On Tuesday night, the Grizzlies matched up with the Chicago Bulls for their first preseason game and, subsequently, Calathes’ first taste of NBA action. In that matchup the 24-year-old was everything that you could ask for from a backup point guard, offensively at least. In 26 minutes on the floor, Calathes finished with nine points, eight assists and two rebounds on 3-6 shooting. Sure, he turned the ball over three times, but for a player in his first game in an NBA environment, Calathes had a firm grasp on being the floor general for the Grizzlies and successfully running their offense.
Defensively, though, Calathes has a little more work to do. Though he was up against talented guards like Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich, Calathes struggled to pick up the speed of the NBA game, picking up five fouls in the process and not being entirely effective. He wasn’t terrible, but it’s definitely area where he must continue to put in work on.
Overall, the Grizzlies have to be pleased with bringing in Calathes. Having a point guard that can run their offense at a high level off of the bench is a huge luxury that the Grizzlies haven’t had in their recent postseason appearances. As they look to try and contend in the Western Conference, Calathes could silently be a game-changer for them.
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