Jamaal Tinsley learning his role with Grizzlies
Point guard has calming effect on offense
- By Ronald Tillery
- Posted November 27, 2009 at midnight
PORTLAND, Ore. -- He emerged from the showers breathing hard after logging 22-plus NBA minutes, which might as well had been two hours of running on a treadmill for Jamaal Tinsley.
The veteran point guard was definitely feeling the wow factor of trying to find a gear that can only be found in professional basketball.
"I'm not at L.A. Fitness anymore," Tinsley said with a sheepish grin, referring to the place he spent most of the 1 1/2 years he'd been out the league.
Tinsley, though, is rounding into shape for the Grizzlies. The 31-year-old floor general, signed as a free agent nearly two weeks ago, is averaging 9.5 points on 47-percent shooting to go with 2.5 assists over the past two games.
The Griz consistently logged about 22 minutes off the bench during that span. Tinsley's role will continue to expand with significant playing time as Griz coach Lionel Hollins is enamored with the former Indiana Pacers' savvy and calming influence.
Those characteristics can only help the Griz as they continue a five-game road trip tonight at the Portland Trail Blazers.
"He can only get better, hopefully quicker than later," Hollins said. "It's just nice to have a veteran who understands. He's out there controlling things. His veteran leadership is what is important."
Tinsley has shown he has a command of the team on the floor, if not every set in the Grizzlies' playbook. He's quickly supplanted Marcus Williams as the backup point guard to starter Mike Conley. Tinsley often sees action late in the third and well into the fourth period of games as the Griz try to stay close or finish strong against the opposition.
If anything, he represents an upgrade because Tinsley is reliable and mature with the basketball in his hands.
"I'm a point guard. I know what they want. I have to just get guys into their spots and pick my spots to score," Tinsley said. "I'm not where I want to be. It's a process. I'm working on it. I've been out for a while, so it feels good to go out there and compete on a higher level like this."
The issue was never whether or not Tinsley could play. The last time he roamed an NBA court, Tinsley averaged 11.8 points and 8.4 assists for the Pacers during the 2007-08 campaign.
Tinsley played in 39 games that season, and disappeared when off-court issues compelled the Pacers to ask him to stay away from the team.
The Pacers and Tinsley agreed to a contract buyout in July.
He's quickly become comfortable with the Grizzlies, who were giddy about picking up a player whose career assists average (7.0) ranks him seventh among active players.
"Everybody loves him," Conley said. "He's doing a lot to make his presence felt. For me, I've been noticing the way he probes and observes the game. Even though he doesn't know all of the plays, he's putting guys in spots and getting into pick-and-rolls. He's going to help us a lot when he gets into the kind of shape he wants to be in."
Tinsley said he'll play whatever role is required. He's taking this shot at redemption day by day and possession by possession in hopes he can convince his younger teammates to do the same with every game.
"I've learned a lot about bringing my leadership on the court," Tinsley said. "I'm just trying to let them know that you don't have to hit every home run on a possession. The more possessions we get, the better chance we have to win the ball games."