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Twelve Thoughts on Grizz vs. Wolves

A good win for sure, but what can we take away from just one game about these Grizzlies?

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Senior Features writer Andrew Ford, a former member of Bruce Pearl’s coaching staff at the University of Tennessee, will pass along his thoughts the day after Memphis Grizzlies games throughout the season. Here is the first in that series.

1) Karl-Anthony Towns could be one of the ten best players in the NBA this season, and that’s not a joke. He’s the real deal on both ends. Even Gasol, the Grizzlies’ best post defender and former Defensive Player of the Year, doesn’t have enough energy or tools to shut KAT down all night. Defensively, Towns altered too many shots to count at the rim. He’s going to make up for so many mistakes made by perimeter defenders. JaMychal Green might be the Grizzlies’ best option to defend someone like KAT. He gives up height, but he battles and stays straight up, giving him a chance.

2) Andrew Harrison had a very rough night. He looked like a middle school kid trying to finish at the rim against length, and he dribbles himself into turnovers. He provides the Grizzlies with defensive versatility, but there might be nothing he does better than fellow backcourt mate and backup guard Wade Baldwin IV.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

3) Gasol’s three-point mechanics are really good for a big man. He’s no Kristaps Porzingis from out there, but season over season, his release has gotten more fluid, and just as important – quicker. It’s going to be tough for defenders to adjust in their minds to note that Gasol can hit that shot because of how he has played traditionally during his career.

4) Mike Conley looks springy. He has far more pep in his step than he had most of last season. This season we might see again why some consider him one of, if not the best, defensive point guards in the NBA. He knows how to make himself small and fight through screens when healthy. Last season, he was purposefully going under screens too much to avoid contact and further injury. Running into screens takes a bigger toll on guards than people think.

5) I hope Vince Carter plays until he’s 50. He’s so much fun. Just make him the first player/assistant coach ever.

6) Gasol and Randolph popping more to the perimeter after setting screens on the perimeter could really free up space for guards to drive. That’s something the Grizzlies haven’t had a lot of, because traditionally they’ve had those guys roll and they’ve spaced by having perimeter players rotate around the wing according to where the ball was at the time.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

7) Wolves hard doubled on Gasol’s post touches more than you see from most teams. It froze him at times, but he’s a smart enough player to make snap decisions and find the open guy. He missed a few bad shots when doubled, but he also found some open three-point shooters. See his beautiful step through in the first quarter before finding Conley on the right wing to bury a three.

8) James Ennis could be a really solid guy off the bench. Grizzlies are going to be struggling to find reliable depth, so it would be huge if he’s able to step up and be at least a quality 3-and-D guy. He’s a good defender despite what some might say after watching his stint in Miami. He has all of the tools to be able to make positive contributions on both ends every night.

9) Loved David Fizdale’s strategy to eliminate early offense by the Wolves. He implemented full court press in certain situations after made baskets and had guys pick a man up right after they crossed half court. That’s how you limit what the opponent can run and make them play a simplified version of offense.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

10) Fizdale didn’t reveal too much offensively. It might be a pretty vanilla offense until everyone returns healthy. Some vanilla can work as long as you can swing the ball side to side and hit opponents with quick pick-and-rolls after spreading them out, as the Grizzlies did against the Wolves.

11) What an awesome job managing minutes by Fizdale given all the injuries. Limiting Gasol to 32 and Conley to 29 is huge. Gasol’s minutes might come down even more when Brandan Wright gets back into the lineup, which could really help the Grizzlies for a potential playoff run.

12) Conley executed more tight moves off the dribble than I’ve seen from him in some time. He had a beautiful in-and-out dribble that froze Dieng and resulted in an and-one, and his hesitation dribble was killer because of his quickness. I don’t know if he’s rejuvenated because he’s finally healthy, because there’s a new coach in town, or a combination of both. Whatever it is, Conley looked like a different guy than we saw last season.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

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