Chalmers motioned to the crowd, pounded his chest, and a small MVP chant even broke out in one section of the Forum.
With that, it's safer than ever to say that on Monday night, Mario Chalmers officially won over Memphis. Once despised by Memphis Tigers fans, Chalmers is now revered by Grizzlies fans. Even many Tigers fans have now been converted. Chalmers admitted on "The Chris Vernon Show" on Wednesday that he was the most nervous he'd ever been for a game on Friday night, when he made his Grizzly debut. He wasn't sure if he'd get booed, or if there was going to be a haunting silence. Well, that's definitely not the case now.
Dave Joerger told Mario Chalmers during the game "Welcome to Memphis they love you".— Phillip Dean (@PhillipDean1) November 17, 2015
Who would've thought, the player that crushed Memphis Tigers fans' hearts in the 2008 NCAA tournament, would be receiving wave after wave of cheers from Memphis Grizzlies fans on Monday night. But who could resist cheering for him after he scored 29 points off the bench in just his third game with Memphis, including 4 threes?
Mario Chalmers has brought what the Grizzlies have so desperately needed: scoring, confidence, and energy. Most of all, Chalmers takes some pressure away from Mike Conley, who is relied on for much of the Grizzlies' offense. We saw the combination of both guards on Monday, and both players had impressive stat lines. Mike Conley had 22 points and 9 assists, including 4 three pointers.
Before the Chalmers trade, Beno Udrih was the backup for Conley. While he had had many great moments last season, Udrih struggled offensively for the few games he played with Memphis this year, and ultimately it resulted in him being traded to Miami . And while the trade for Chalmers was scrutinized at first, I think we can now all agree that the trade worked in Memphis' favor so far. Chalmers has provided the spark and shooting that Memphis has needed, and the season now seems to be back on track.
Before the Chalmers trade, Mike Conley was averaging 12.7 PPG. With Mario Chalmers, Mike is not only allowed more rest, but he also has more off-the-ball action, which has helped him get in a better rhythm offensively. He doesn't have to handle the ball as much, and the offense isn't quite as dependent on him. Plus, Chalmers helps spread the floor, and therefore, Conley has some more room to operate.
Because the Grizzlies are not known collectively as a three point shooting threat, the defense loves to pack it in, thus giving very little room in the offense for Memphis. Since the trade, Conley is averaging 17.7 PPG. In two of the three games with Chalmers, Conley has had 20+ points. Although it's a small sample size, with every passing game the case for Chalmers' arrival helping Conley grows. I'm not sure I've ever witnessed a player impact the Grizzlies so quickly in such a positive way as Chalmers has done. Now, Dave Joerger seems to be off the hot seat, and the Grizzlies seem to have their mojo back.
Something else Chalmers is particularly good at is drawing fouls and getting to the line. In his three games with Memphis, Chalmers has shot 25-27 from the free throw line. He's not afraid to take the contact, and his percentage at the free throw line is impressive. Chalmers isn't afraid to take shots, and that's what the Grizzlies need. We've seen Courtney Lee shy away from taking shots, but this isn't the case with Chalmers. For years, the backup point guard position has plagued Memphis, but Chalmers has already shown he might end up being the best backup they have had in a very long time.
Again, we're dealing with a small sample size. However, per 100 possessions, Chalmers has an offensive rating of 147. Granted, he has a defensive rating of 106, but that's a good for a net rating of +41. He's scored a total of 56 points on 52.2% shooting in only three games with Memphis. That is real, measurable, visual impact.
Will Chalmers come back down to earth, at least to some degree? Almost definitely. For now though, enjoy "Super Mario". He has helped to turn the Grizzlies' season around, and he's taken some of the load off of Mike Conley.