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The Week-side Help: Week 9 - Tanks for Nothing

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Recapping an exhausting and indicative week against the Eastern Conference in The Week-side Help

Memphis Grizzlies v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Week 9 Results

Miami Heat 107 @ Memphis Grizzlies 82 (8-19) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 87 (8-20) @ Washington Wizards 93 Recap | Box Score

Atlanta Hawks 94 @ Memphis Grizzlies 96 (9-20) Recap | Box Score

Boston Celtics 102 @ Memphis Grizzlies 93 (9-21) Recap | Box Score

Week 9 Storylines

-Memphis goes 1-3 against solely Eastern Conference opponents, fall to 9-21 on the season.

-In an interview, Marc Gasol tells The Commercial Appeal that he will not ask for a trade, among other things.

-Required Reading: If you want a good look at how Memphis got to this low point, these articles will be great frames of reference. GBB’s Jack Noonan examines the Bickerstaff vs. Fizdale eras in Memphis and doubts that the problems all along have been coaching | Zach Lowe from that plucky upstart ESPN tries to do what all Memphis fans—including the team—are trying to do: find out the Grizzlies’ identity post Grit n’ Grind.

Week 9 Thoughts

-I think it’s a really good strategy for the Grizzlies to hit their tanking groove in December. That way by March they’ll be a well-oiled tanking machine. Otherwise known as a tank.

-If you are not a fan of the Grizzlies, I hope your team never, ever endures a first half in which they score just T W E N T Y - N I N E points.

-Seriously, I don’t think I’ve seen worse basketball across the league this year than that half. Memphis was without Tyreke, but still had Marc Gasol out there and looked listless. A rebuild is inevitable, but it is going to be ugly.

-In the 48 consecutive minutes of the 3rd and 4th quarter against Miami through the 1st and 2nd quarter against Washington, Memphis scored 69 points. That is NOT nice.

-WILD OVERREACTION but that stretch early in the 2nd quarter against Boston with Tyreke/Kobi/Dillon/Jarell/Deyonta on the court is proof that this team must trade Marc Gasol.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

-In all seriousness, Marc leaving the game at that time felt like a breath of fresh air. Sure, Marc picked up his production later. But when he’s off the court Memphis can play a much a faster pace, run in transition, and switch just about everything defensively. Memphis doesn’t do those things well enough to actually justify trading Marc solely for X’s and O’s basketball reasons, but that style of play is much better suited to the 2017-18 NBA than Gasol’s slow, methodical pace.

-By the way, if the Grizzlies do trade Gasol, temper your expectations for what we’re going to receive as compensation. Paul George and Jimmy Butler are both younger players who play a more premium position, arguably better than Gasol plays his own. Both players ended up being traded for packages that could have easily been matched or upped by other teams. About half the league has an average to above-average big man that they’re trying to get rid of this deadline, many of whom are paid cheaper salaries than Gasol will be for the next three seasons.

-The Grizzlies as a franchise was never “fun” in the traditional sense with lots of scoring; they were fun because they won in spite of not having that electric offense. They were fun because Memphis had a distinct personality and identity. Now this team has neither, with no fun offense like Brooklyn or Phoenix and no exciting young prospects like Philadelphia or the Lakers to compensate. Watching this team slog through 48 minutes of basketball is a marathon, testing your will to see contested, poor jump-shots over and over while they fall bass ackwards into a rally and taking the lead. Wins are just escapes now, not celebrations.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

-With Brandan Wright gone, Deyonta Davis has taken his minutes as the only other 5 on the roster. They have similar roles and skill sets, but Davis needs to be more polished offensively to keep any of these minutes when Wright recovers. I’m still firmly on the Deyonta bandwagon.

-Home. Teams. Should. Wear. White. I will pound this drum until I die. I know Nike wants to be edgy by ditching home and away jerseys because they named them dumb versions like Association and Icon instead. If a home team is wearing their main color, they’re probably blending in with the painted areas of the court making it super ugly to watch on T.V.

-Kobi Simmons played significant minutes for the first time in the NBA, so congrats to the young man. With how poorly Chalmers has played for the Grizzlies, Kobi could have a great opportunity to make a name for himself. Thank the basketball gods he spells it differently than that other guy.

-The longer this team goes without Conley, the more I would want him to sit for the whole year. Even if he’s 100% by the time he comes back, will it be too late for this team to even have a chance at making the playoffs? Mike has been nothing but great for this team. I would hate to see him wasting a recovering body in insignificant competition. It would also almost guarantee the Grizzlies commit to the tank. A remote possibility, but if Conley is shut down for the season before February, Marc Gasol’s days in Memphis may be numbered.

Official Permanent Lottery Watch Update of the Week

Tankathon.com 12/18 NBA Lottery Update

Memphis is still at four, but the Bulls are on fire (ice cold if they want to tank?) and could leapfrog Memphis soon. That win over the Hawks on Friday might turns out to be pretty important if both teams are still in the cellar come lottery time. The upcoming match-up against Phoenix will also have some future implications.

By the way, teams that are committing to a tank have circled December 15th on their calendars for a while, that being the first day a team can trade a player they signed over the summer in free agency. For teams who swung and missed on contracts (Miami), they can move on and attempt to salvage the season or get more draft picks. The only player that Memphis signed this summer with any trade value would be Tyreke Evans. Memphis would need some serious cap gymnastics to be able to re-sign him next year, and I feel that losing him would make this team remarkably worse, perfect for a tank job.

This segment was supposed to be a joke. Having a team be this bad in November and just completely overreact? Hardy har har a good laugh to be had by all. WELP now I’m all in on this draft class. Yeah sure I hope this team makes the playoff, whatever. I’m in love with DeAndre Ayton. He could be one of the next big men unicorns in this league, on a level with Embiid and KAT. It’s too late for me, you guys go on without me.

Also, shout out to Tankathon.com for an awesome resource, providing the standings above.

Play of the Week

“Best Week 9 Performance” is canceled this week because of a lack of, uh, good performances. Marc Gasol had the best statistical game against the Celtics, but I’m done rewarding mediocrity (until maybe next week!)

For now, let’s enjoy this hellacious dunk by Jarell Martin. Not only did it give Memphis the lead after a 21-point deficit, but also I don’t think Jarell Martin ever stops rising through the entirety of the dunk. He absolutely posterized Daniel Theis in a legitimate way--not those fluky “posterizations” where a guy just happens to be in the frame of the dunk. Jarell isn’t very good, but he is fun as hell to watch when he’s doing Jarell stuff, which is basically being bouncy.

Numbers to Know

2.5: Average margin of victory in the two games the Grizzlies have won since November 11th.

10.0: Average margin of defeat in the 16 games the Grizzlies have lost in that same span.

Memphis being throttled in every loss and scraping by for every win is the best indicator we have that this team will not turn it around. Memphis wins coin-flip games at a coin-flip rate, but decisively lose for the bulk of their results. This Memphis team is not good, in case that wasn’t clear.

0.76: Points per possession scored on Marc Gasol post-ups, according to NBA.com.

That efficiency is “good” enough for the 27th percentile in the entire league. It seems that the Marc Gasol post-up is this team’s security blanket. It’s something they go to in search of comfort or any offensive consistency when nothing else works. Like security blankets, it doesn’t actually do anything but make whoever is moody feel better. Letting Gasol post up as he pleases might assuage his ego, but it isn’t producing any offense for a play Gasol goes to almost 30% of the time.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Week 9 Grade: F+

The only reason it isn’t an F outright is because Memphis got a win, and my goodness are those rare. We must cherish them.

Memphis had their off-court dysfunctional peak a couple of weeks ago, but this might be the worst actual basketball of the season. Horrible offensive outings against Miami and Washington were as bad as offense gets. In both of those games, the Grizz shot less than 40% from the field, and they barely eclipsed that mark against the Celtics (40.5%).

Should I start grading this team on a curve? I’ve accepted the fact that this is one of the bottom-5 offenses in the NBA, so are they really F material when they play how I expect them to?

No and yes, in that order. I didn’t get a single curve in any of my classes this semester so tough tube socks, Memphis, you don’t get one either. And yes, this team is still failing even after adjusted expectations, considering my expectations did NOT fall to a 9-73 season.

Week 10 Schedule and Preview

Memphis Grizzlies @ Golden State Warriors Weds. 12/20 (10:30 ET/(9:30 CT)

Memphis Grizzlies @ Phoenix Suns Thurs. 12/21 (9:00 ET/8:00 CT)

Los Angeles Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies Sat. 12/23 (8:00 ET/7:00 CT)

Remember when Memphis started off 5-2 with a convincing win over Golden State? That Grizzlies team feels completely different from who will face off against Golden State this Wednesday. No Mike Conley. No David Fizdale. No morale. No chance.

No Steph Curry? Sucks, still no chance.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Then, the Grizzlies get some competition whiplash by playing the very next night against the Phoenix Suns. This game has some heavy #tank implications, considering Memphis and Phoenix are 4 and 6 respectively in the lottery as it stands Monday morning. That’s all that needs to be said about that game.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Clippers are wildly different than our first go-round with them this year. This team is beaten up badly, having lost Patrick Beverley for the season and Blake Griffin for the next 6 or so weeks. Milos Teodosic is healthy though after a lengthy absence due to a foot injury. I have no idea whether he’s going to be good in the NBA, but he’s already a super fun player to watch. If he turns out to be good, then awesome. If not, he’s a 30 year old rookie--he’s probably not peaking in the NBA. I’m glad we get to see him play the Grizzlies this year, but never be too happy for a Clipper.

P.S.-

Next Monday will be a very special edition of The Week-side Help, the Christmas Day version. Christmas Day is amazing on its own, but having NBA corner the market on Christmas sports makes it that much better.

So I want to spruce this bad boy up next week with some help from you guys. Let’s make next week the first Week-side Mailbag! If you have any questions for me about the Grizzlies, stories around the NBA, Migos upcoming album, or how Russell Westbrook was #NotmyMVP, tweet them to me @asaprockytop. If you can send me a question by carrier pigeon, I will answer it out of respect for the effort. Other than that, actually DO @ me.

Have a good week, Memphis. Safe travels to anyone traveling this holiday season and happy holidays to all of you.

Follow @sbnGrizzlies