Week 4 Results
Week 4 Storylines
-Memphis splits 2-game week, beating Portland and losing to Houston
-Retuuuuurrrrrn of the Mac. Ben McLemore made his return Saturday night in Houston, notching 4 points in 18 minutes.
-Wayne Selden Jr returned in garbage time of the same game, with 5 points in 4 minutes.
-Alongside Ben McLemore, Ivan Rabb was called up from the G-League to the active roster.
-It’s November and I am already worried about paying Tyreke Evans after this season. That’s a post for another day, but Memphis has a very tight cap situation for Tyreke’s performance in a contract year. Way too early to worry about, but if I’m not worrying I’m not living.
-Ben McLemore looked understandably rusty in his first game back. Mike Conley mentioned how he wants to see Ben come off of screens for 3-pointers, but he never really got any opportunity to do so in his first game.
-I was not expecting the huge difference in Wayne Selden’s and McLemore’s minutes in their returns. They play the same position and came back on the same day, so one would think the 22 minutes between them would be more balanced. Maybe Selden isn’t 100%, but if that were the case there would be no reason to put him in with 4 minutes left down 21. Hopefully Wayne Selden Jr. gets a chance to prove himself in time because I am a fan of his defensive potential.
-Bad week for Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, shooting wise. 11-29 for Marc, 10-26 for Mike. Yuck.
-This Memphis team is starting to show the cracks of playing at a fast pace. In games with less than 95 possessions, this team is 6-1. More than 95? 1-4. They start allowing easier shots when the game gets faster and just look like their defense starts to fade. Memphis also has a big turnover problem when the game gets faster and they get careless with the basketball (see any Tyreke Evans alley-oop). If Memphis doesn’t control the tempo for a given game, they can get beat easily.
-Memphis is now 2-1 against Houston with another match-up this coming Saturday. A win would give Memphis the series victory for the regular season and clinch the tiebreaker for seeding purposes.
Numbers to Know
.449- The percentage of Mike Conley’s field goal attempts that are 3-pointers. This is a career-high for Mike Conley thus far. As much as I love 3-pointers and embrace the game’s evolution, that number needs some context. It’s great that Mike’s shooting more threes, but it’s the lowest 3P% of his career. In fact, among all players with that 3-point rate this season, Conley has the 7th-worst 3-point percentage. It’s one of Conley’s worst shooting seasons and it feels like a result of settling for shots. Mike usually has great shot selection and isn’t afraid to attack, but there have been times when he’s been passive or simply settled for a three.
In both of these situations, Mike gets a mismatch on the opposing team’s center. DeAndre Jordan is capable on the perimeter, but beatable for someone like Mike. Meanwhile, Jusuf Nurkic is slow enough for Mike Conley to easily get by on a drive. Instead, he steps back and takes two contested jumpers that both miss. These are just 2 of Mike’s 70 three-pointers all season, but he needs to still tighten up and take smarter threes instead of any three.
8.2- The Grizzlies’ net rating in clutch situations, defined by the NBA as any game in the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter or Overtime where no team is ahead by more than 5 points. It’s a weird combination that led to that combination too. They own the 4th worst offensive rating and 3rd best defensive rating. Even though it feels like every game is close with Memphis, they’ve played a league average amount of “clutch” games so far. It’s a good net rating, 11th in the league, but it’s also behind teams like the Kings, Knicks, and Suns. Close games are not the best way to predict the future, even for other close games.
2.2- The Grizzlies’ overall net rating. As an overall reminder that when the Grizzlies lose a close game, they’re likely to win the next because close games are such coin-flips. You lose to Charlotte and Orlando late, you hang on against the Clippers and Trail Blazers late. Such is life. But when that happens, it can’t be used to prop up or hold down the Grizzlies. It all comes out in the wash that is the entire season’s averages. Last year, Memphis’ net rating was 0.1 which is basically a lottery ticket every night. And that’s what last year was every night. Memphis has done a better job of playing well all-48 minutes so they don’t have to worry about closing it out with a minute left. Use a team’s net rating for a benchmark on how they should perform on a given night.
Best Week 4 Performance
Tyreke Evans @ HOU, 22 pts(8-12 FG, 1-3 3P, 5-6 FT), 6 ast, 5 reb, 3 stl, 5 TO, +1 +/-
Well, it was either this Tyreke game or the Tyreke game against Portland. Tyreke has been arguably the best Memphis Grizzlies player all season, but he’s definitely been the most consistent. He’s kept up his high-level of play without experiencing any of the ups and downs that Marc and Mike have thus far.
6th Man update: Among bench players shooting 50% from the field and 40% from 3, only 2 average double figures in points. Kyle Korver with 10.2 PPG and Tyreke Evans with 17.8. He also leads ALL bench players in PPG and Win Shares. He is 4th in PER behind David West, Javale McGee, and Willie Reed, who combine to outnumber Tyreke’s minutes 373-to-327 after Saturday. He’s not an empty-calorie scorer like Lou Williams or Jamal Crawford. Tyreke is a legitimate threat off the bench.
Week 4 Grade: C-
Well, there aren’t a lot of assignments to really grade this week for the Grizzlies. Going 1-1 in a 2-game week is pretty....eh. .500 will rarely draw a huge reaction out of people.
Yet, Memphis gets their second mediocre grade in a row. Memphis got the W, albeit in a fairly uninspiring fashion. They deserve credit for not letting Damian Lillard get into any rhythm. But Memphis had no response for Houston’s barrage of threes on Saturday. Houston shot 16-45 from three while Memphis shot 6-20. That’s already a 30 point margin that they didn’t compensate for in any way. The Rockets had less turnovers, more free throws, and more rebounds than the Grizz.
Against any 3-point heavy team like Golden State or Houston, you have a greater margin of error than against any other team because of the numbers game. They make you have to do everything right to beat them when they’re making their shots. Memphis didn’t step up to offset the disadvantage and paid miserably for it.
Week 5 Schedule and Preview
Memphis Grizzlies @ Milwaukee Bucks Mon. 11/13 (Tonight!)
Indiana Pacers @ Memphis Grizzlies Weds. 11/15
Houston Rockets @ Memphis Grizzlies Sat. 11/18
THE GREEK FREAK. I am so excited to see him play. Giannis Antetokounmpo has transcended All-Star potential status and is in the conversation for the best player in the league. He’s definitely having the best season of anyone in the Association; he’s 1st in PPG, PER, 2nd in Box Plus-Minus, 4th in Win Shares, and in my humble opinion, the league’s MVP.
The inevitability of Giannis’ rise is akin to LeBron’s. The evolution in his game is so rapid and consistent it is dizzying to watch. He’s so good that he doesn’t have a jump shot yet and he’s STILL the scoring leader in the NBA. Giannis can impose his will at any time with his body.
And for Pete’s sake, look at his career progression! MY GOD.
The Pacers, however, somehow have a better record than the Bucks despite getting Gamestop-level value for trading Paul George. Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis maybe aren’t worth Paul George, but they’re showing their talent this season nonetheless. Oladipo is unleashed and putting up big numbers and Sabonis made the most of an increase of playing time after Myles Turner’s concussion. Now that Turner is back, expect the Pacers to be a frisky team.
Okay, the Rockets again? Yes. Because whenever you can schedule two division rivals to play all their games before Thanksgiving, ya just gotta do it. That’s what the NBA was thinking apparently, but the games must go on. After Saturday’s blowout, I don’t expect Memphis to come out the same way in the final installment of Rockets-Grizz. Houston’s shooting was lights out, however, and there’s little predicting a team that wants to shoot 50 three’s a night.
It’ll be an improvement for Memphis if they can get their offense clicking against the Rockets and all throughout the week. As I mentioned earlier, this game will be big for tiebreaker and seeding implications even though it’s just November. That’s what happens when you exhaust all of your match-ups in the first 15 games.
Have a good week, Memphis.