Mike Conley: 37 min, 24 p, 11 a, 4 r, +10
After playing light minutes the night before, Conley was spry and effective through OT in 37 minutes against the Wizards. He’s using his ball-handling and craftiness to capitalize on the newfound space in the paint, and made shots (42 % FG, 60% 3P%).
Andrew Harrison: 29 min, 9 p, 3 a, -5
On the Andrew Harrison spectrum, I fall on the “believer” end. When confident, he can shoot lights-out from deep, create shots, and get to the rim better than you’d expect. Fizdale thrusted Harrison into heavy NBA action from day 1, and he’s struggled to sync with the offense. The Grizzlies need him to space the floor, and shoot open threes without hesitation.
Against the Wizards, Harrison showed improvement on offense, and continues to be decent on defense. We’ll see how these opportunities pan out under Fizdale. I think he’ll find comfort and production with the offense as his confidence grows.
James Ennis: 33 min, 8 p, 12 r, 2 a, +3
To be a real contender, from a front office perspective, you need to sign players that will outplay their contracts. Ennis is shaping up to be such an asset.
In Parson’s absence, Ennis has used his length and quickness on defense. He’s also amplified the offense by taking open corner threes, and pushing the pace both on the fast break and with strong drives to the rim.
Ennis continued his excellent work filling in for Parsons against the Wizards, aptly holding down the duties of the position and then some.
JaMychal Green: 39 min, 7 p, 6 r, 2 s, +12
JaMychal has been crucial in the Grizzlies’ reconstructed offense, but continues to struggle with avoidable foul trouble. Aside from dumb fouls, he’s where he needs to be on either end of the court, and has helped stretch the floor without giving up too many boards.
Against the Wizards, Green tallied more minutes than any other player, but only managed to score 7 points on 6 shots. That stat doesn’t look great, but the Grizzlies still scored 112 points and shot 44% from the field. Still, in order to be a high-scoring offense, we’ll need JaMychal to take more shots (i.e. corner threes) if he’s going to be in the game this long.
Marc Gasol: 29 min, 20 p, 10 r, 1 a, 1s, 1 b, +23
Marc Gasol won this game. He hit the tying three pointer at the end of regulation, and carried the Grizzlies to victory in OT—all while playing with a minutes restriction. This game was a huge win-win for Fizdale’s various new approaches to the regular season.
Marcin Gortat did not have an enjoyable night guarding Marc Gasol. Gortat looked like an infant giraffe on ice-skates, stumbling around on defense while trying to protect the rim and cover Gasol beyond the arc.
Vince Carter: 31 min, 18 p, 2 r, 1 a, 21
Vince looked like the Vince Carter of the Mavs from a few years ago in this game against Washington. He made 5 of his 6 FGA, all of which came from behind the three point line. He hit open spot-up threes, an off-balance three, and connected from deep after darting out from under a low-action screen.
Vince merits a spot on the roster for his veteran leadership and guidance alone, but spreading the floor with this efficiency would be a godsend. Let’s see if the wily old dude can keep it going.
Wade Baldwin IV: 18 min, 0 p, 4 a, 0 r, -2
Baldwin impresses me in every facet of the game except for scoring. He penetrates defenses, whips nifty passes, pushes the pace in transition, and locks down on defense.
Wade under-performed against the Wizards. He failed to score a single point in 18 minutes of action, and 0 rebounds is unacceptable. With Marc and even ZBo floating around the 3pt line, the Grizzlies need their athletic guards to pull down more boards than they typically would. I have no doubt that he’ll turn around these hustle stats, but we need him to make shots if he’s going to answer the eternal backup PG question.
Zach Randolph: 25 min, 22 p, 7 r, 1 a, 3 s, -6
Highly efficient game from ZBo. He’s taken to the sixth-man role better than anyone could’ve expected, and keeps pressure on the opposing offense when the starters go to the bench. ZBo anchored another solid bench performance in Memphis’ win over Washington.
ZBo still has some good stuff left in the tank, as evidenced by his 22 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes. I think he’s still a 20-10 starter on the right team, but his separation from Gasol and the space that has opened up for Conley and others in the paint is undeniable. Fizdale’s rotations will prolong ZBo’s career, and his efficiency should spike this season as he battles against opposing bench players.
Jarell Martin: 19 min, 4 p, 5 r, 1 s, +0
He got the start, but didn’t flourish as much as I’d like. Martin didn’t hit a three in this match up, but floated out to the 3pt line and spread the defense.
The Grizzlies are searching for their PF of the future, and hitting threes will go a long way to bolster Jarrell Martin’s case.
Head Coach David Fizdale
We all know the ceiling of Grit-n-Grind doesn’t extend to a Finals victory. The only way to win-now is to reconstruct the approach on offense as well as defense.
One of the Grizzlies’ best achievements is their concrete identity. They’ve spent years together, and have mastered the art of their craft as a team. Fizdale’s job is to uproot much of that identity without upsetting players and losing too many games.
Fizdale lost when he limited Mike’s minutes against the Knicks, but managed to grab a W in D.C., carried by the man whom he limited up to and through OT. Both games allowed younger players to further develop, and for key starters to get more rest.
The. Most. Important. Thing. Is. Health. Whatever Fizdale can do to usher the Grizzlies into the post-season while healthy should be vigorously supported. It’s more important to develop players now so they can contribute later in the year, and to do what we can to alleviate the physical toll of the regular season on our starters.