By: Christian Dudley (@ChristianDudley)
The Memphis Grizzlies have dealt fan favorites Beno Udrih and Jarnell Stokes to the Miami Heat in return for veteran Mario Chalmers and young talent James Ennis.
The first transaction of the 2015-16 NBA season occurred on Tuesday, which involved none other than the Memphis Grizzlies – perhaps the most disappointing team thus far.
A change was needed and change is what Grizz Nation received on Tuesday afternoon. While it was not a major blockbuster trade, it was a solid move nonetheless. On paper, the Grizzlies have become better via the deal, although many fans may not agree with the decision right away.
Here is a rundown of the trade between the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat.
-Mario Chalmers (combo guard, averaging 5.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals on 31.3% shooting from the field)
-James Ennis (small forward)
-Beno Udrih (point guard, averaging 5.9 points, 1.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, on 43.5% shooting from the field)
-Jarnell Stokes (power forward/center)
How can this single transaction solve some issues for the Memphis Grizzlies?
It is simple, really. Memphis has needed shooting threats along the perimeter and they added two in one swoop. Chalmers is a career 36% shooter from beyond the three-point arc; however, he is a horrid one-of-11 from long-range this season (through six games with the Miami Heat). In Ennis’ rookie season (2014-15), he recorded a 32.6% clip from deep.
Mario Chalmers will fit nicely with the Grizzlies’ backcourt of Mike Conley, Tony Allen, and others. He is an above-average defender at the point guard position. Though “Super Mario” may not be stuffing the stat sheet just yet in 2015-16, he is a monster when it comes to defensive analytics. The two-time NBA World Champion is currently fourth-best in the NBA in defensive ratings (81.7) and second-best in net ratings (26.1). At the very least, Chalmers is a dishing point guard that can play significantly better on the defensive end than Beno Udrih. Team defense – mostly in the second unit – will be strengthened.
Are you scrambling to find more information about James Ennis and what he brings to the table? Get excited, Grizz Nation! He is a second-year, 6’7” wing that carries plenty of potential, especially after shadowing Luol Deng and Dwyane Wade in his rookie season – which he appeared in 62 games, including three starts. He is athletic and is a highlight reel waiting to happen. Ennis is a step or two above raw talent, but he is far from reaching his ceiling.
Both ex-Heat players have needed a change of scenery. Chalmers and Ennis have slid out of the rotation for the most part and have needed a rebirth. They have been handed a golden opportunity with the struggling Grizzlies.
Chalmers will soon – as early as Friday – become a key contributor for the M-Town squad, though Ennis will likely have to wait to see floor time. Expect Mario to immediately be the primary substitution for Mike Conley at the one-spot and/or for Courtney Lee as a two-guard. It is definitely nice for the Grizzlies to have quality insurance options on the bench in case a starter goes down with an injury.
In today’s NBA, seasoned veterans that own championship experience are extremely valuable. Memphis added this quality in a quick and easy trade. Plus, a couple shooting threats were added. They may not be Ray Allen per se, but they can find their rhythm from the three-point stripe. For now, hopefully this deal with the Miami Heat can assist the franchise in gaining traction and pulling upward into the top tier of the Western Conference standings.
Enough about what the Grizz have gained. What did this team lose?
Beno Udrih and Jarnell Stokes were fan favorites – especially the likeable and positive Beno. Stokes also had his own fan base due to being a homegrown product and a University of Tenneesee Volunteer in his college days.
While a vast majority of Grizz Nation enjoyed Udrih and Stokes, everyone must come to a realization.
Udrih was subpar on defense and struggles with scoring that is not surrounding by a midrange jumper. Yes, the midrange jump shot was deadly when it was Udrih tossing the attempt, but one trick will not land you into the NBA Finals.
With Stokes, the frontcourt man barely earned a spot on the team’s regular season roster. He is certainly a project player that needs a good deal of time to develop for the NBA game. Jarnell was the “Zach Randolph 2.0” plan, but the time is literally now for the Grizzlies to give their best shot at reaching the NBA Finals.
Memphis is all in. Tuesday’s trade solidified this thinking.
This move may not be able to completely erase, say, a 50-point deficit to a Golden State Warriors club, but it is a step in the right direction. It is also relaxing to see the Front Office take the initiative to find quick solutions to a sinking ship. Trading for Chalmers and Ennis at a rather cheap cost is well worth the risk. The roster remains at the league's maximum of 15 players.
Lastly, farewell to Beno Udrih and Jarnell Stokes. Thanks for the memories! Best of luck to both guys in Miami with Dwyane Wade and the Heat. Miami’s fan base should soon become enamored with Udrih and his positive attitude as well as Stokes and the high ceiling of his as a young frontcourt player.
The 3-5 Memphis Grizzlies face the Golden State Warriors – the second meeting between these two teams of the season – on Wednesday in the Grindhouse. Mario Chalmers and James Ennis are not slated to play in the matchup, but both newcomers should be available on Friday when the Grizz receive a visit from the Portland Trail Blazers.