Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes have struggled to find minutes with the Memphis Grizzlies during the first six games of the season, and as a result, the two were sent down to play with the Iowa Energy, D-League affiliate of the Memphis Grizzlies. The Energy were holding their preseason game on Saturday against the Sioux Falls Skyforce in Memphis at the FedEx Forum, which was an ideal situation to get the two Grizzlies rookies some live action.
"It was definitely a hop-on-the-plane, spur-of-the-moment type thing, but it was fun, coming to play down with the Energy," Adams said after the game, "I just wanted to shoot the ball. I haven't been able to shoot the ball in, like, seven games."
Adams finished with a team-high 20 points while showing flashes of being virtually unguardable throughout the game. The rookie shooting guard attacked the basket at will, showing off his ability to finish at the rim, draw fouls, and make good passes when the defense collapses. Additionally, Adams' weight loss cannot be overstated. He moved very fluidly, both with the ball in his hands and when making off-ball cuts.
As for the other rookie, Jarnell Stokes, he found himself finishing with 13 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. Physically, Stokes was able to overwhelm any Skyforce big trying to check him in the post. Defenders were unable to front him or keep him off of the boards as Stokes ferociously pursued rebounds and provided excellent help defense in the paint.
Offensively, Stokes was able to knock down a 17-foot jumper and also showed a hook shot reminiscent of Marc Gasol, but most of his points came off of easy put-backs and layups. Stokes did show the ability to set hard, legal screens to free up his teammates for open shots and driving lanes. But like most all rookie big men, it will take Stokes some time to perfect his post moves and to become a real offensive contributor at the NBA level.
"When I first got out there, it felt kind of weird. I've been sitting down clapping, cheering guys on, and being so locked in on bringing whatever I can to the Grizzlies, and I've been doing a little bit of conditioning but nothing like basketball shape. It felt kind of weird at first, but I felt like I got it going towards halftime," Stokes said.
Both Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes referenced Saturday's game as a good opportunity to maintain their physical conditioning and stay in basketball shape. Expect both of them to play more games in the future in Iowa if they are unable to crack the rotation in Memphis. But it was evident on Saturday that Jordan Adams was the best offensive player in the gym, and Jarnell Stokes, from a physical standpoint, could not be contained.