Welcome to The Week-side Help, a week-by-week recap with analysis, stats, and evaluation of the Memphis Grizzlies along with a preview of the week ahead. Let’s jump right in.
Week 2 Results
Week 2 Storylines:
Memphis took their first loss of the year, unfortunately meaning 82-0 is off the table. There’s always next year.
The Memphis Grizzlies announced on Friday that they have assigned PF’s Deyonta Davis and Ivan Rabb to the Memphis Hustle, the franchise’s G-League team in its inaugural season.
Chandler Parsons capped off the week with a #revengegame against Houston on Saturday, scoring 24 points on 6-8 shooting on 3PA’s. An incredible road performance for him.
Dillon Brooks continues to get solid playing time because of his smart play, especially on the defensive end. | GBB’s own Mac Trammel analyzed the trends in his play in the still young season.
After a 3-1 week, the Memphis Grizzlies were in sole possession of the best record in the NBA. Here is photo evidence if you don’t believe me:
In macro news, the buy/sell process has begun for the Memphis Grizzlies, meaning minority owners Steve Kaplan and Daniel Strauss can bid to purchase Robert Pera’s majority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies, or sell their own shares to Pera. It is a complicated process, first reported and explained by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe, and it could also be lengthy. If ownership does change, don’t expect it to be sudden, as the bidding timeline alone lasts 60 days. Keep an eye on this situation as it develops.
I can’t say enough about Tyreke Evans this season. The University of Memphis product came to the Memphis professional team in the offseason as a basically known commodity. He’s a sizable wing with point guard-level playmaking skills. Evans has always been a skilled player for really bad teams (188-291 career record, 0-4 playoffs), which forces him to be the first or second most prominent feature on the team. On this Memphis team with more firepower, he can have a more stable role on the bench and really showcase his skills. He’s been a great shooter this season (.444/.435/.800 splits) and has really limited turnovers, averaging his career best in per-game, per-36 minutes, and per-100 possessions TO numbers. He’s an extremely smooth ball handler and driver, and that’ll be even more useful with more spot-up shooting in Ben McLemore and JaMychal Green coming back from injuries. Tyreke Evans is going to continue to be very useful for this team.
Lost in the different style of offense this team has is the defense that has anchored them. Memphis’ offense is certainly different and a lot more evolved from a year ago, but the production has been average for the team as a whole.
- 15th in Offensive Rating(Points per-100 possessions)
- 14th in eFG% (Accounts for 3PA being worth more)
- 9th in TO%
- 28th in OREB%
This offense is nothing to be embarrassed or even that concerned about, but the team success is being heavily driven by the defense. They just keep attacking the opposing offense, and act aggressive on passing lanes without being too reckless. The team’s defensive stats are as follows:
- 6th in Defensive Rating
- 3rd in eFG%
- 7th in TO%
- 21% in DREB%
Not to mention that the Grizzlies are 7th in deflections, according to nba.com. This team is causing a lot more havoc defensively and using it to generate offense more than a year ago, running in transition more often. This defense is flat-out winning games for the Grizzlies. They held the vaunted Houston Rockets offense to 89 and 90 points (more on that below) and held the Golden State Warriors to below 40% shooting when the Grizzlies beat the defending champs last weekend. I have faith in this defense to remain stout as the Memphis defenses of lore, but the offense could use some improvement to make this team more consistent.
Best Week 2 Performance:
Chandler Parsons vs HOU: 24 points, 9-11 FG, 6-8 3PA
New segment! If I had this segment last week though, I would have just put every second that Dillon Brooks logged in an NBA game into one video and had that be this whole paragraph.
Chandler deserves this one for his first great game in a while. Marc Gasol had a statistically better performance against the Mavericks at home, but Parsons’ game came when seemingly no one else on the Grizzlies was interested in scoring points. All 5 starters combined for 36 points. Yuck. Chandler had a breakout game against his old team. He gets this week’s prestigious honor.
James Ennis 100% Watch:
Last week, I noted that James Ennis shot 100% on the season up to that point. Since then, he has missed 15 shots. He is no longer shooting 100%. He can no longer shoot 100% this season.
This concludes this season’s James Ennis 100% Watch.
Numbers to Know:
5: The number of Grizzlies averaging more than 3 3PA’s per game this season. Memphis has been fashionably late to the 3-point boom affecting the NBA, but it eventually comes for everybody. The last team that had 5 Grizzlies averaging that many 3PA’s a game was the 05-06 Grizzlies team. That squad made 590 threes that year, good for 5th in the NBA in 2006. For the 2016-17 season, that number would have been last place.
Times have changed.
.765 - Chandler Parsons’ True Shooting Percentage (TS%) this year. For the uninitiated, TS% is a statistic that measures field goal and free throw percentage all in one number, where 3-pointers and free throws are properly weighted as more and less difficult respectively. Parsons leads the team in this category and would be 2nd in the NBA if he played enough minutes to qualify as a league leader statistically. Chandler Parsons has been performing well off the bench in his new role, especially in his huge game against the Rockets Saturday night. Defenses have been leaving him wide-open after his poor season a year ago, and he’s been able to take advantage from three, shooting 61.1% (!) on 18 such attempts thus far. It might be too late for him to reach the expectations of a max player in Memphis, but the contract is already signed. All he can do now is perform well in what the coaches ask of him and he has. Well done thus far, Chandler.
Guys, hold on to your butts. This is not a drill.— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) October 30, 2017
Per Synergy, Chandler Parsons is shooting 69% (nice) on all jump shots. He's averaging 1.94 pts/jump shot possession. That leads the NBA by a mile (Bjelica is 2nd at 61%).
-14.956 - The plus-minus of the Memphis Grizzlies’ most commonly used lineup, their starting lineup. This is a dreadful plus-minus, and quite surprising for a team that has performed well thus far. Fizdale is maintaining the starting lineup for continuity reasons, but there’s no doubt it’s not as good as it could be, especially considering the injuries. Obviously, this plus-minus is also buoyed by how darn good the bench has been this season. The bench saved this team’s bacon in Saturday’s game when they outscored the starters 67-36. Mario Chalmers, Tyreke Evans, Dillon Brooks, and Chandler Parsons all look like they could be nice 6th-9th players on the rotation. Chalmers and Evans have even been able to find crunch time minutes because of how well they play together and share the ball.
Week 2 Grade: B+
Memphis suffered their first loss all season, which knocks them from A territory. The loss to Dallas in the first game of their home-and-home was a bad loss, too. Memphis didn’t show any of their trademark intensity or energy in that game, and Dallas, who is always ready to fight for every game and be in contention, took advantage and the win. After Memphis got out to a big lead on Dallas in the next game, Memphis took their foot off the gas and allowed the Mavs to nearly win the game after being up 21 at one point.
The most impressive parts of the week were both wins against the Houston Rockets. This team is sans Chris Paul and sacrificed quite a bit of their depth to acquire him, so they aren’t 100% up to this year’s OR last year’s standard. But the Rockets are still a great team with a superstar at the helm, so two decisive victories are impressive by themselves, let alone how the Grizzlies got them. In all of Houston’s non-Memphis games this season, they are 5-0 with an average offensive rating of 112.04 and TS% of .585. Against Memphis, however, they are 0-2 with an offensive rating of 96.95 and TS% of .517.
The Grizzlies defense continued its great beginning into Week 2 and got to showcase itself against a usual offensive juggernaut. Keeping that energy and execution consistent will be key, but this defense has been nothing but a force to start the year.
Week 3 Schedule and Preview:
Charlotte @ Memphis 10/30 (Tonight!)
Orlando @ Memphis 11/1
Memphis @ L.A. Clippers 11/4
Memphis @ L.A. Lakers 11/5
Memphis hosts their first Eastern Conference match-ups of the year, with one being against Current #2 Seed Orlando Magic. Yeah.
Those two Eastern games will be interesting to watch. The Charlotte Hornets seem volatile, having only one game decided by single digits, a 9 point loss to the Milwaukee. But that means they can hit on any given night, especially considering this team has both Kemba Walker and Malik Monk who both have flamethrower tendencies. Charlotte has been really great at defending cleanly, allowing the fewest free throw attempts a game to opponents, which could be troubling for a Memphis team that has been dependent on drawing fouls and getting to the line.
Meanwhile, Nikola Vucevic is having a monster season. He’s averaging a career-high 22.0 points-per-game, 8.6 rebounds, on .605/.455/.800 shooting splits. The .455 percentage on threes is particularly notable because its his career high percentage on a career high number of 3-point attempts. He’s getting more efficient with a higher volume; Marc Gasol will have his hands full guarding him all over the floor.
The Los Angeles road trip could be a problem for Memphis. The Clippers are playing seemingly better without Chris Paul. Not to say Chris Paul wasn’t an all-world talent for them, but sometimes the talent level doesn’t matter when the pieces don’t fit. This team now has Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley, and Lou Williams as newcomers this year, all have played well, but Blake Griffin has stood out this season. He’s been playing the kind of basketball that NBA fans have imagined him playing for years. Now that Paul is gone, Doc Rivers has trusted Blake to handle the ball in transition, push it up the floor, and even start the offense in half-court. Blake has been fantastic in response. Lead by Beverley’s hounding defensive play, this team also has the #1 defense in the league which should concern a team with an average offense, at best.
This Sunday will also be Memphis’ debut appearance on The Lonzo Ball Show. Like him or his father or hate them, it won’t matter much once the ball is tipped. The Lakers are still a bad team; they’re so young. They have 4 players over the age of 25, so their performance can be excused, but they’ve only won 2 games and they were by a combined 5 points.
But Memphis cares not for if your team is good or bad, just how weird would it be if they were to beat or be beat by them. Maximum Grizzness would call for Memphis to lose this game. It is the second game of a back-to-back in Los Angeles, where a lot of the energy and focus may be taken up by the Clippers game.
Have a good week, Memphis.