This week, we have Craig Fielder, Matt Hrdlicka, and Jonah Jordan.
For the record, the Grizz went 3-1 (1 home: NOP; 3 away: PHX, OKC, MIL), and they're 6-1 overall.
Craig: Shooting 18-35 from 3 point land against Phoenix and OKC combined. Did we become GSW overnight? Obviously the main reason behind this is Courtney Lee; his shooting has been fantastic through his first 5 games. It will be interesting to see how far his shooting percentages drop as the season goes on. I'm gonna hazard a guess and say he'll shoot around 40% from 3 this season.
Matt: The Grizzlies are 6-1 despite missing a combined 10 games from their top 8.
Jonah: Winning close games. The Grizzlies played four games this week and won three of them. They had one home game then a three game road trip with a back to back where they had to travel from Oklahoma City to Milwaukee. Going 3-1 in that stretch is impressive considering the Grizzlies have no bench production to work with. It could easily have been a 2-2 or 1-3 week, but the Grizzlies were able to win close games that made everyone's hearts want to explode.
Craig: Luke Babbitt's haircut. What is that??? In all seriousness though I'm gonna say Courtney Lee's foul on Brandon Knight as he laid in and got the and-1 to win the game. In fairness it may have been a harsh call, as to me there didn't seem to be much contact. But don't even give the officials chance to call a foul there. Just let the shot drop, then we would have had 1.1 seconds to hit a game winning shot or, at the worst we miss the shot and go to overtime and maybe get the win. Never mind though; what's done is done. We'll just have to go 81-1.
Matt: The bench has underperformed, but the season is still (counts number of games on less than two hands) young. I preach patience with these guys. Here's a fun exercise: look at any team in the NBA. Suspend their backup point guard and then shoot their presumptive 6th man in the foot. Now look at what they have left. That's what the Grizzlies bench has been dealing with.
Though no single player has met expectations, the Grizzlies have patched together some workable performances. They are, after all, 6-1. By year's end, the Grizzlies will have strength in numbers: 2 chances at a backup point guard, 6 chances at finding 3 wings, and 3 chances at finding a backup big. The early returns haven't been good, but that's all it has been.
Jonah: I'm going to go with the Grizzlies defense or lack thereof on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the fourth quarter Saturday night. The Greek Freak is a good player, but letting him take over the game and push it into the Bucks favor was not acceptable. Putting Zach Randolph on him was a terrible decision that was never rectified. The 12 points that he scored in the fourth quarter were all going at Randolph all while Tony Allen sat on the bench. I'm not saying that the Grizzlies win the game with a better defender on the Greek Freak, but it certainly becomes more likely.
Craig: The 2 point win over OKC. We really could have ended up losing this game as well. This game was a whole lot closer than it should have been. Why do we always play to our opponents' level? This is a game in which we should have gone out and blown this Thunder team away. We got away with one in the end though, with Ibaka missing the potential game winning 3.
Matt: Here's what I wrote in my rambling Season Preview:
15). Jon Leuer will get significant minutes early on, but will find his role reduced by Jarnell Stokes.
I came into this season as a Leuer skeptic, but I also recognized that the 4th big job on a playoff team may be too big for a rookie still not old enough to drink legally. How long does it take you to form an opinion you're sure of? If the answer is 7 games then you're doing it wrong. Jon Leuer has been a net minus through seven games; that's not an opinion. It is, however, an opinion that he should be tossed away.
Leuer's poor play is almost entirely a result of his jumpshot not falling. Jumpshots disappear occasionally. Leuer has attempted just 26 FG's through seven games, and has looked less-than-confident in those shots, probably because, like, they're not going in.
But most of the rest of his numbers are in line with his career averages. He is taking the same amount of shots per 36 minutes that he usually does, but fewer threes. His rebounding numbers are in line with per 36 minute career averages (as is his TRB%). He is generating slightly fewer turnovers, but he is also fouling less. Leuer is 25, and usually I would not look at a player his age and be willing to give him more play. However, what we have here is simply a player whose shot is not falling.
The real player who is underperforming relative to expectations is Kosta Koufos, and it seems as if everyone has just decided to look the other way. Though Koufos' rebounding is dead on with career averages, he is taking half as many shots, and is making just 25% of them. After blocking nearly two shots per 36 minutes like clockwork, that average has declined to just .4 blocks.
Maybe nobody has noticed how bad Koufos has been because he's only playing 13 minutes per game (also below last year's numbers). Koufos is much more important to the Grizzlies season, certainly more important than Leuer. It has only been seven games, and I will bet on Koufos returning to form shortly. But it's really strange that Leuer has received so much abuse when Koufos has played nearly as poorly, but gone unnoticed.
Jonah: Jon Leuer has been more than ugly this week. He has been utterly unplayable and useless at times; it makes me want to upchuck. I don't know if Leuer can break out of the slump he's in. There is no confidence in anything that Leuer does. He looks about as lost as someone can look on defense to the point where I think that Tayshaun Prince is a better option as the backup four going forward.
Good ole Jonny Badger did provide me my favorite stat of the year so far (via Chris Faulkner): 28% of Leuer's points this season were from plays when he never touched the ball and he just happened to be the person closest to the basket when the Bucks tipped the ball in for the Grizzlies.
Random Bonus Question of the Week
Every Grizz fan knows that Beno likes to tweet out inspirational quotes. What quote would you give him after the Grizz's first loss against the Bucks?
Craig: "Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday." - Wilma Rudolph. Tennessee native
Matt: "Winners make their own luck." - Billy Zane, Titanic
Jonah: "Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character." - John Wooden