Yes, the NBA preseason means nothing in the big picture.
But we can still get excited for some basketball, can’t we? The Memphis Grizzlies are back and while it wasn’t always pretty, they returned with a win.
The Grizzlies defeated the Orlando Magic by a score of 102-97 on Monday night in Memphis. While this game got very sloppy at times, there were some big highlights and stretches of good play that made this game very interesting.
To the excitement of many Grizzlies fans, Wade Baldwin IV showcase his offensive ability in his debut. Baldwin showed a little bit of everything that made him desirable to the Grizzlies in the draft. His ability to score was apparent, as he was able to provide a healthy mix of jump shooting and attacking the basket.
Baldwin finished with 15 points (shooting 5-5 from the floor) and 4 assists. But it wasn’t all grand for Baldwin, as he did finish with 5 turnovers, something that he’ll surely look to improve on going forward. But overall new coach David Fizdale was pleased and said that Baldwin did not play like a rookie tonight.
The man competing with Baldwin for the backup point guard spot is Andrew Harrison, and he showed flashes at times in this game. While he struggled in the first half against starter-level competition, Harrison picked it up in the second half, finishing with 11 points and 6 assists. Against the backups/roster bubble players, Harrison’s natural talent showed as a slasher and creator for his teammates. But he was clearly outplayed by Baldwin.
In more exciting news, University of Memphis product DJ Stephens dazzled the crowd with a couple of flashy dunks. Stephens brought great energy to the floor in the second half in an attempt to prove to the organization that he deserves a spot on the 15-man roster.
While Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, and Deyonta Davis were inactive due to injuries, the Grizzlies did get to see the returns of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol to action in the first half of this game.
Gasol was not shy at all in his return, as he took 5 shots within the first few minutes of the game, including two three-pointers. Conley started a little slower but got into his groove as the half went on. He really played well in the second quarter, at one point leading the Grizzlies on a 17-2 run. Conley and Gasol finished the game with 10 points apiece. Conley also showed his usual terrific defense, racking up 3 steals on the night.
Conley was also given the opportunity to do some coaching by new head coach David Fizdale. Fizdale said after the game that he wanted Conley to “take more of a leadership role and be more vocal,” per our own Grace Baker.
Also returning to the team was big man, Brandan Wright. Wright provided very good energy off the bench and was able to put in some work out of the post and on the glass in this game. Wright chipped in with 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals in 20 minutes of play.
Vince Carter, Troy Daniels, and Zach Randolph all struggled to make a great impact in this game. They all played less than 15 minutes and none was a huge factor when they were on the floor.
James Ennis also showed positive signs in this game, ams he will play a big role off the bench this season. Ennis showed great hustle and some ability to score as well, finishing with 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals in a performance that previewed the type of 3-and-D player he could be.
JaMychal Green and Jarrell Martin both got a chance to play solid minutes in their competition for the backup power forward role, and neither player separated himself from the other. Green was the more efficient of the two, though, and showed better awareness on defense.
This was a tight game going down the stretch. It was tied up 97-97 in the final minute when the Grizzlies needed someone to step up and make a play.
That someone was former Kansas Jayhawk, Wayne Selden. Selden, who is on the roster bubble, knocked down a 3-point shot with 26.2 seconds remaining in the game to give the Grizzlies a 100-97 lead. Selden only finished with 5 points and 4 rebounds, but made the most of his 12 minutes, showing that he has no fear of taking the big shot.
Many don’t expect Selden to make the roster, but after hitting this big shot, he has given the organization something to think about for sure. Selden had his moment in this game; can he provide enough moments to make the team?
We don’t know if it will be enough for Selden at this point. But we do know that we saw some promising things from the Grizzlies to start the season off, and hopefully things will only get better as the team gets healthier.
Here’s to a great year, Grizzlies fans.