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Observations from Las Vegas Summer League: Game 3: Grizzlies vs. Suns

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Tonight, the Grizzlies suffered a similar fate to their first two summer league games losing to the Phoenix Suns, 100 to 88. The offensive performance was leaps and bounds better than the first two games, but the defense took a real hit.

Gerald Robinson prepares himself for defense.
Gerald Robinson prepares himself for defense.

If I'm being completely honest, this Grizzlies summer league team isn't very aesthetically pleasing or even fun to watch. They have now played in three games thus far and lost all three. The one redeeming quality of the team's performance tonight was that they actually got some nice contributions on offense in contrast to the first two games, where the team posted 68 and 57 points, respectively.

Tonight, all five Grizzlies starters were able to score in double digits. To address another recurring theme during summer league, Jamaal Franklin and Jon Leuer were both out again due to injury. It looks like both of them won't be playing in any games, which is really too bad.

Game Notes

  • Poor Darington Hobson, who has not played in any of the Grizzlies three summer league games. It's been a coaches decision every time.
  • Different starting 5 tonight: Gerald Robinson, Tony Wroten, Donte Greene, Willie Reed, Jack Cooley
  • Wroten had a lot more confidence in his shot tonight, and it showed. His first shot was very timid, and it was an airball. After that, he sank a three and just started letting them fly without overthinking it. That's the key for Wroten. He hurts himself when he thinks too much.
  • Greene played a much better game than his previous two. He finished with a shocking 18 points. However, he was 7-16, and many of his misses are because of his poor shot selection.
  • Wroten goes up soft so often when he drives to the rim. It baffles me. For someone so athletic, he never tries to dunk.
  • At one point tonight, Wroten's shot got blocked because he can't use his right hand at all. He drove right into the lane and went up for a layup, but instead of using his right hand for the layup like he should have, he used his left making it easier for the defender to get the block. That's a problem.
  • Wroten doesn't have a great looking shot, but when he is playing loose his form looks so much better.
  • Cooley's a fighter. He is a complete below-the-rim guy, and if he made the NBA he might struggle offensively because he lacks post moves. However, Cooley can shoot for a big guy. He's not ever going to be a stretch four type, but his shot adds value. Also, he is a rebounding maniac. He had a double-double tonight with 13 points and 10 rebounds. I really think he will get invited to somebody's camp. Maybe not the Grizzlies because they have bigger needs, but he will be at some team's camp.
  • Archie Goodwin's body is still very much a boy. The kid is only eighteen years old, but he already does so many impressive things. I liked him a lot more in tonight's game than I did when I was watching his college film to scout for the draft. He is athletic, he draws fouls at a high rate, and although his shooting is inconsistent, he can shoot and his shot looks good.
  • In my mind, there is no way Kendall Marshall is on a team in the NBA after he plays out his rookie contract. He can't shoot at all, and he is not even a threat to do so. That makes it a lot harder to run the point. Also, his passing isn't nearly what it is billed to be by some. He makes a lot of unnecessarily difficult passes that lead to turnovers, which isn't what the Suns want from a guy whose main positive skill is passing.
  • On one play, Goodwin took Wroten off the dribble and drove to the lane to draw the foul. I hate that. As I stated previously, Goodwin has the body of a boy and Wroten is a physical freak. Wroten is supposedly a really good defender, but I don't see him as some great on-ball defender. His value comes when his man is off the ball and he can use his length to get into passing lanes for steals. If Goodwin is blowing by Wroten, that isn't a good sign.
  • Janis Timma was good off the dribble again. He continues to show his ability to get into the paint by playing smart and using cuts to free himself up for layups.
  • On defense, Timma gets caught ball-watching way too often. At least once tonight, it led to his man getting a wide-open layup, and right after the play he knew he had messed up.
  • The analysts talked about how Grizzlies players have to talk to and direct Timma on the floor more than any other player. That's great for his development that he is able to learn so much so quickly, but that doesn't speak well for his NBA preparedness, but nobody expected him to be in the league this year anyway. He has demonstrated to me in three games that he has a long way to go.
  • One thing that will drive a coach crazy is Wroten not allowing his big man to get set when setting a screen. When Wroten is running the pick-and-roll, the big man gets called for a moving screen too often because Wroten isn't patient enough with the ball to give his screen man time to get set. It's all about awareness, and Wroten has to start recognizing that.
  • Vander Blue had a very nice game tonight. He exhibited his scrappiness and athleticism when he was on the floor. He also scored several nice buckets including a dunk that might have been the play of the night. He'll make a lot of money overseas somewhere, and he could one day be on an NBA team. He isn't there yet though.
  • For the first time in three games, I noticed Gerald Robinson. He does much better when he has the ball in his hands running the show than when he plays as an off-ball guard. The first two games, Wroten ran most of the point. In the Suns game, Robinson shouldered a lot of that responsibility. Robinson finished with 14 points and 8 assists. Many of his assists were quite impressive. On one play, he executed an alley oop to Willie Reed with perfection. I still don't think Robinson will make an NBA roster, but the Grizzlies might give him a hard look because backup point guard is a position of need.
  • The Worst thing I saw all night from any Grizzlies player is when Kendall Marshall drove left on Timma, and Wroten's guy was in the left corner. Rather than play help defense like he should have, Wroten literally stood there *WITH HIS HANDS ON HIS HIPS* Wow. That's just lazy.
  • At the current moment, I would rather have Gerald Robinson as the Grizzlies back up point guard than Wroten. I'm not saying I would give Wroten's roster spot to Robinson. I'm just saying that Robinson is clearly more ready to fill that role.
  • The Grizzlies played atrocious defense all night, giving up 100 points in 40 minutes. Yikes. However, a lot of that can be attributed to the level of players on the Suns team. A lot of those guys are players that will be on the Suns actual NBA roster. It was like watching a summer league roster versus an NBA roster a lot of times tonight because that's basically what it was.

For the complete box score, click here. The Grizzlies next game will be TODAY at 5:30pm CT against the Washington Wizards. Joy, joy.