Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Atlanta Hawks
Where: Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia
When: 7:00 PM CT
How to Listen/Watch: NBA League Pass, 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
For the Atlanta perspective, visit Peachtree Hoops.
Our long regional nightmare is almost over.
We will soon once again be able to watch the Grizzlies with regularity in the usual spot, and get in to a routine with our weekly viewing of NBA Basketball. The second to last preseason game tonight has the Memphis Grizzlies in Atlanta to take on the Hawks, and at this point you should know the drill. Yes, we could talk about Atlanta running a big front court of Paul Millsap at Small Forward, Al Horford at Power Forward and new acquisition Tiago Splitter at the Center position. And yes, we could wax poetic about how the sweet three-point stroke of Kyle Korver would look so much prettier in Beale Street Blue...
But this is the preseason, and the opponent is irrelevant...as is the result. There are much more important Grizz-centric areas to focus on as you enjoy the contest this evening.
The Battle for the Final Roster Spot
This apparently has gotten more interesting than expected. Grizzlies Head Coach Dave Joerger seems to really like what Ryan Hollins brings to the table as a larger big, and with JaMychal Green playing so well and looking the part of an NBA rotation player it could well mean that Jarnell Stokes could be on the way out of Memphis. If you suddenly had an image of Lee Corso shouting NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND creep across your mind, you wouldn't be wrong; the Grizzlies like Stokes too, and he fits the mold of a big bruiser who can bring physicality to the floor.
He does, however, struggle with bigger defenders and being unable to overcome their length advantages on him. Between Hollins' size and Ja. Green's skill set, it may well be almost the end of "The Young Bull of Beale". Of course Jarnell could be released and brought back to play in Iowa with Memphis' D-League affiliate the Energy, or as previously stated he could stick long-term. Hollins' deal is easier to dump than Stokes' is, but the structure of Jarnell's contract does not make him un-cutable.
Bears watching play out this game and on Friday. Competition will hopefully bring out the best in all involved and whoever Memphis decided to part ways with gets an opportunity elsewhere.
He remains a topic of conversation across all Grizzlies fan blogs, message boards, Twitter pages and beyond. The "Jeff Green Starter Experiment" has run its course with many, and while I see Coach Joerger's thought process better than most I tend to lean with those who are ready for the "Jeff Green Bench Player Experiment" to begin. Green's game flows better with that unit for a variety of reasons; athleticism, transition opportunity, the flexibility to more seamlessly flow from one forward spot to another all come to mind. He also has the mental make-up to willingly come off the bench and potentially produce as the main man with the second unit.
Wherever you fall on the Jeff Green Spectrum of Insanity, whether you irrationally despise him or swear up and down that THIS IS THE YEAR JEFF FIGURES IT OUT, all can agree that in order for the Grizzlies to succeed the coaches must find the best way to use him moving forward, and soon. That process continues tonight.
Growth from Russ Smith
"Russdiculous" has shown the capacity to thrill the crowd with his explosiveness and ability to get up and down the floor. That is a very valuable skill set, especially for a Grizzlies team who doesn't really push pace that often. However, one thing that cannot occur for Memphis is excessive turnovers, and Russ currently struggles in that department. It makes sense to an extent; when you play that fast, you are born to make a mistake a time or two. The Grizzlies' offense is not good enough, especially the bench unit's, to overcome 5 or more turnovers however. If Russ is going to be more than an end-of-the-bench fill-in, he must shown Coach Joerger and his staff that he can flirt with the line between in control and out of control.
His strength is his ability to push, but he must learn to not go over the edge too often if he hopes to make an impact in Memphis this season. Hopefully he shows an emphasis on ball security tonight.
Memphis leaves Atlanta with their irrelevant undefeated preseason record in tact, but more importantly they get out healthy.