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2015-2016 Memphis Grizzlies Player Evaluations: The Early Leftovers

Beno and Russ and Jarnell and James....

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor's Note: I don't know if you know this, but the Grizzlies had a lot of players this year. Like...more than any team ever. After taking volunteers to do player evaluations from the staff, I still had to farm some of these out to outside sources. Today's review has been written by Aimee Stiegemeyer, @MamaHellCat, from All Heart In Hoop City)

Beno Udrih played just eight games with the Grizzlies this season before being traded on November 10th to the Miami Heat, along with sophomore power forward Jarnell Stokes, in exchange for point guard Mario Chalmers and small forward James Ennis.

This trade caused more than its share of furor amongst the denizens of Grizz Nation, many of whom still clearly remember Mario Chalmers almost singlehandedly crushing the Memphis Tigers dreams of a National Championship back in 2008.

Off the court, Beno Udrih had become something of a fan favorite in the Bluff City, but on the court his level of play was simply not enough to move the needle for this Grizzlies team.

In those eight games, Udrih scored a cumulative 47 points over 120 minutes of playing time, on 20 of 46 field goal shooting and 3 of 3 from the free throw line. He also had 26 total assists, 9 rebounds, and 11 turnovers.

Jarnell Stokes, a promising young power forward the Grizzlies acquired on draft night in 2014 from the Utah Jazz, in exchange for a 2nd round pick in 2016. Stokes spent the majority of his rookie season assigned to the Iowa Energy, the Grizzlies D-League affiliate, as what seems to be custom now for new draftees to this Memphis team.

Stokes was part of the aforementioned trade that sent him and Beno Udrih to the Miami Heat early in the regular season. Before the trade Stokes had played just four minutes in a Grizzlies uniform, attempting zero shots and grabbing two rebounds, one offensive, and one defensive.

After the trade, Stokes spent a few months being shifted back and forth between the Miami Heat and their D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, until he was traded by Miami to the New Orleans Pelicans and subsequently waived. He returned to the Skyforce for the remainder of the 2015-16 season, and was later named NBA D-League MVP for 2016.

I’ll cop to being more upset about losing Stokes than I was Udrih, as I’ve always thought he had the potential to a nightmare in the paint, like a baby Zach Randolph. Doesn’t hurt that he’s actually from Memphis, either. Which might not matter to most people, but I’ll always have some love for a hometown kid.

Russ Smith was another acquisition during the 2014-15 season, coming to Memphis in the same trade that brought us Jeff Green. Like so many other younger players that have ended up here as of late, Smith spent the majority of his tenure with the Grizzlies playing for their D-League affiliate, with a handful of call-ups back to Memphis as a backup point guard. He played in 15 games for Memphis during the 2015-16 regular season, before being waived in order to make roster space for Ryan Hollins.

In those 15 games, he played a total of 66 minutes, scoring a cumulative 23 points, with 9 rebounds, 11 assists, and 5 steals.  While this is far from the most impressive stat line, it’s still disappointing to see yet another young talent with lots of potential being waived away in favor of bringing in another aging veteran player. This is part of an ongoing theme for Memphis, and it’s frustrating to watch.

Smith was also largely responsible for leading the Grizzlies to win 1st place in the 2015 Orlando Summer League. If you didn’t watch the Grizzlies in the Summer League, you missed Smith putting on a clinic. #TeamRussdiculous

After Smith was waived by Memphis, he was picked up by D-League team Delaware 87ers for the rest of the season. On March 22rd, during a game in which the 87ers were soundly defeated, Smith set a new D-League scoring record, with a 65 point game against the Canton Charge.

And finally, that brings us to James Ennis, who accompanied Mario Chalmers to Memphis from Miami back in November. Ennis would spend the majority of the season with, you guessed it, the Iowa Energy, playing in just 10 games for Memphis.

Over those 10 games, Ennis played a collective 40 minutes, during which he accumulated a total of 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals. Once again, not exactly remarkable, but he never had much of a chance to make an impact.

Ennis was waived by the Grizzlies in March to make room on the roster for Ryan Hollins (yes, again) and went on to join the Energy again for a few weeks before being picked up on a 10-day contract by the New Orleans Pelicans. Near mid-April, Ennis was signed by the Pelicans for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.  His time with the Grizzlies was rather unremarkable, but Ennis seems to have found a groove with the Pelicans.

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