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The Week-side Help: Week 10 - Merry Grizzmas

Handing out gifts, looking into the Grizzlies’ future, and talking cereal in the Christmas edition of The Week-side Help

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Week 10 Results

Memphis Grizzlies 84 (9-22) @ Golden State Warriors 97 Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 95 (9-23) @ Phoenix Suns 97 Recap | Box Score

L.A. Clippers 112 @ Memphis Grizzlies 115 (10-23) Recap | Box Score

Week 10 Storylines

-Memphis goes 1-2 on the week, dropping 19 of their last 22 games after starting 7-4.

-The team announced a week ago that Mike Conley will be out another two weeks, shortening the window for Conley to return to competitive basketball.

-The team also announced that Wayne Selden Jr. is expected to return within two weeks after recovering from his quad injury.

-Brandan Wright made his return on Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns, posting 8 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes.

-Memphis unveiled special “MLK50” uniforms, honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

-Required Reading: GBB’s own Joe Mullinax eloquently describes how Marc Gasol’s relationship with Memphis came to be a break-up waiting to happen.

Grizzmas Shopping

Ah yes, the wonderful feeling of gift-giving without any of the financial or emotional responsibility to hold me down.

The Grizzlies are far from perfect and they’re going to need as much help as they can get, so here’s what who will get--if they deserve anything.

Mike Conley: Health

Just get healthy, man. Each passing loss is another reason for Mike to be shut down for the season. There’s no need aggravating a shaky injury situation by playing at 110% to get to 35 wins. What’s important is that Conley is good to go for next season, wherever he may be playing. I hope it Memphis and see him as way more likely to stay than Marc, but if Marc goes, what is stopping the Grizzlies from starting completely wholesale?

NBA: Orlando Magic at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Gasol: Coal

He got a coach fired, whether he said the words “Fire David Fizdale” or not to Chris Wallace or Robert Pera. He sure as hell isn’t good enough anymore to be worth it. Prime Deron Williams might have been, Lebron James and Magic Johnson sure were worth firing their coaches, but Marc Gasol is not. And he’s really flying under the national radar for doing so. The Memphis market is ready to riot with pitchforks and torches the next time Marc does anything negative, but Marc kinda got a pass after a day or two past Fizdale’s firing. He’s having one of the worst shooting years of his career, he was the weak link in Fizdale’s preferred style of play, and there’s no sign at all that Marc can or wants to redeem himself in Memphis. Coal it is. Not even the good coal either, the bad kind.

Tyreke Evans: The will to pass

I’m fine with the Grizz signing Tyreke as a mercenary, so I’m fine with Tyreke using this season as a way to boost his stock for the 2018 offseason. I understand he’s going to be chucking more than he should to boost his scoring total, but he’s passing over wide open players (Chandler Parsons, mostly. Did they get into a fight earlier that I missed?) to play hero-ball. Trust me, that isn’t the sole reason Memphis’ offense is stagnant. But it would definitely increase the chances of a winning team signing Tyreke. He’s so far only shown he can be really good on bad teams. Being a more willing passer and deferring to what will likely be better players on other teams will give Reke the chance to do just that.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

GM Chris Wallace: Another job

It kinda sucks to outright say “fire this man and take away his income”, but professional sports head executives and head coaches are more than fairly compensated. So I’m just going to suggest Chris Wallace take another job in--preferably out of--the organization. If Memphis is going to rebuild, it can’t do so with the same front office that brought this situation upon us. Good job on drafting Conley, but Marc Gasol was a throw-in for his older brother and the rest of the team is barely NBA-caliber. A new front office and new head coach going into the Summer of 2018 will breathe new life into this team running on the fumes of Grit n’ Grind.

Dillon Brooks: Friendlier Refs

DB is a solid defensive player, both in team defense and when trying to lock a guy down one-on-one. Yet, he’s limited physically (6’6” with only a 6’5” wingspan) and still very young as an NBA player and it leads to him fouling right as someone drives past him. As of this writing, Dillon Brooks is 13th in the NBA in fouls per game. He isn’t a rim protector either, which would put him in the way of more fouls like Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond above him.

Rookies notoriously get little credit from referees--a practice that is dumb and makes no sense--and that’s going to be a fact of like for young players like DB until he proves himself in the league. But for now, Brooks can cut back on those frustration fouls, reaching in once someone blows past him, and make a huge impact for this team and his playing time.

Franchise: Top-3 Pick in 2018 NBA Draft

This teams NEEDS elite talent. For 8 years, this team has been punching above their weight and maximizing their talent to about 110% production. But this team is going away from the Grit n’ Grind style that allows Memphis to play up to the level of any team they face. I was very high on Michael Porter Jr. before his back injury, but 6’11” guys coming off of back injuries terrify me.

I would understand the risk and support the choice, Porter could be the next Kevin Durant, but I love Marvin Bagley III and DeAndre Ayton’s games. Ayton has an NBA player’s body already, 7’0” tall, 7’5” wingspan, and 260 pounds as a 19 year old. Bagley and Ayton are neck-and-neck for top big man in the draft and we haven’t even mentioned Mohamed Bamba or guards like Trae Young and Luka Dončić. This team can’t afford to pick 9th-14th in this lottery and get a supporting player rather than a franchise player.

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Christmas Mailbag:

Andrew Harrison has played well since Fizdale was fired, so my question is, will the Grizzlies sign him to a long-term deal after this season? Or will they wait one more year?” - Nathan B.

I think they will keep his un-guaranteed contract for 2018-19 and assess his development then before they re-sign him. But I think they eventually do so. Memphis has shown willing to keep prospects that they luck into being solid players (see Green, JaMychal).

Point guard prospects can take a while to develop, particularly those who aren’t elite talents. No other point guards from Andrew Harrison’s 2015 draft class or from his 2016 rookie class look like sure-fire hits quite yet. D’Angelo Russell and Jamal Murray are the closest to All-Stars and Tyler Ulis and Malcolm Brogdon have shown they are belonging on NBA rotations. Other than that, the jury is still mostly out on every point guard prospect from those two years.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Harrison has already shown improvements from a year ago. His shooting splits leapfrogged from .325/.276/.763 to .410/.340/.824 on more field goal attempts in less minutes. A surely welcome sight considering how abominable his offensive game was a year ago. There is plenty of room to grow, however. Since the team insists on playing him at both point and shooting guard, Drew still needs to be able to sharpen his ball-handling and playmaking skills. Tyreke is already booking the first flight after Memphis’ season ends to whoever will pay him the most. Bringing back Mario Chalmers is looking like a mistake, so Kobi Simmons and Andrew Harrison very well may be the only other point guard options on this team a year from now.

If Harrison can improve those playmaking skills, particularly running pick-and-rolls better and being able to pass anywhere out of them, he’ll have a long-term fit on this team as a Conley back-up. I don’t think he’ll have a giant market in free agency, so his contract is going to look more like JaMychal Green’s (2 yr/17 mil) than someone like Tyler Johnson’s (4 yr/50 mil).

What is the best breakfast cereal? - Brandon Connor

A little unfair allowing my fellow writers at this site to get in questions, but maybe y’all should have asked some more questions, ever think of that, huh?

I’m going with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. There are a lot of important factors here other than taste of cereal. It’s not razor sharp like Captain Crunch and doesn’t get too soft in milk like my second choice, Honey Bunches of Oats. Also, once you’re done with the cereal in the bowl, drinking the milk after Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the closest you can get to being true galaxy brain.

  1. Aquaman. He is a bad superhero. This is a bad team. No one wants to see either of them.
  2. Very much so.
  3. Study up on 2018 draft prospects and enjoy this year’s playoffs. Golden State might win their 3rd championship in 4 years! No one has done that since Shaq, Derek Fisher, and worse DeMar Derozan had a three-peat in the early 2000’s. That’s awesome!

Chris Wallace raves about the number of young players on the Grizzlies, but it defies “quality over quantity.” How would you rank each young player by their potential? What is the ceiling for each of them? - Parker F. @PAKA_FLOCKA of Beale Street Bears

For this exercise, I’m using players on the roster under the age of 25. JaMychal Green is relatively young in terms of NBA experience, only 200 games in, but he’s already 27. His development as a basketball player is likely not bringing massive changes at this point. Hassan Whiteside was a late bloomer, but he’s also a 7’0” 265 pound freak of nature.

I’m going to answer both of these questions with tiers of potential. Benchwarmer, Rotation, Starter, All-Star. Here are the rankings as follows, with the higher name having the most potential in each tier.

All-Star:

None. Bad start.

Starter:

Deyonta Davis

Dillon Brooks

I wavered a few times between having Deyonta or Dillon as the youngin’ with the most potential. Dillon Brooks’ floor is a lot lower, he’s already starting and contributing as a rookie. But the ceiling for Deyonta Davis as a shot-blocker and rim-runner is fairly high. He doesn’t have offensive touch, but Davis fills exactly what you need out of a center, leaving you to spend resources on more needed holes for this team like shot-creators.

Dillon will be a solid 3-and-D player in a few years, but nothing more than that. I can see Deyonta Davis playing like Clint Capela in a system or environment where he could really use his athleticism and run.

Rotation:

Andrew Harrison

Wayne Selden Jr.

Kobi Simmons

Ben McLemore

Ivan Rabb

Mish-mosh. If Andrew Harrison stays where he is right now, I’m sure he would find a spot on about half of NBA teams’ rotations. If he improves, I don’t think it’ll be such a leap forward that he’s thought of as someone’s starting point guard or shooting guard--he’s a bit too much in between.

Wayne Selden Jr. and Kobi Simmons get the small sample size recognition here. Wayne showed that his calling card in this league is defense, and wing defenders will always have a spot in this league. I just have trouble extrapolating that over a whole career. Kobi Simmons hasn’t even played 100 minutes in his NBA career, but he’s quick, plays with confidence, and is still 20 years old with size. He has a great package to put together all of these tools in a few years, but it’s going to take some time smoothing out the kinks.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Ben McLemore is only 24? What? He’s on this list? Jesus. Well, he’s already a rotation player, so I guess he can’t be below that. He seems shoehorned into the 3-and-No D role for life. But if he keeps hitting threes, why not? Man, playing in Sacramento must age your career tenfold.

Ivan Rabb. An interesting case. He was projected as a lottery pick in 2016, but stayed in school for one year and fell to the second round. A lot of people want to point to the former lottery status as proof he’ll be a starter or All-Star, but think about it...scouts and executives got more time to watch Ivan Rabb play and demoted his status.

Maybe that was the more accurate ranking all along, I don’t know, I’ve only seen him play F I V E total minutes in his NBA career. But still, he’s super long and has got some offensive touch in the post, from what he showed in college. If he can’t shoot mid-rangers or three-pointers, he may not be a starter just because the way the league is going. I don’t know how he translates as a rim protector or as a perimeter defender on switches. That lottery talent might be in there, but I have yet to see it from Rabb. So I can only keep him here for now.

Benchwarmer:

Jarell Martin

The only reason Jarell got significant playing time this year is because of JaM’s injury and a lack of true PF’s on this team. Parsons can’t play every night and Deyonta next to Marc would clog things quite a bit. Jarell did fine in bit moments to give Green some rest, but I don’t see him becoming an everyday player for a team in this league.

He plays like he only relies on his athleticism, which may work at any level other than the NBA. He can’t defend too well, and he can’t play offense that well either, save for big dunks. I don’t see a lot of room for Jarell to grow.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Week 11 Schedule and Preview

Memphis Grizzlies @ Phoenix Suns Tues. Dec 26th 9:00 ET/8:00 CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Los Angeles Lakers Weds. Dec 27th 10:30 ET/9:30 CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Golden State Warriors Sun. Dec 30th 8:30 ET/7:30 CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Sacramento Kings Sat. Dec 31st 7:00 ET/6:00 CT

So the Schedule Gods send Memphis on a two games in two nights west coast road trip, bring them back to play one (1) home game, then send them on another west coast road trip, this time playing five games in eight days. Happy Holidays.

This week is feast or famine, mostly famine. Suns, Lakers, and Kings are bad teams, but so are the Grizzlies. Last week’s tilt against the Suns was competitive and close, even though it wasn’t any good to watch. All three games are sure to have big lottery implications, but we all know the game of the week here.

This will be Vince Carter’s and more emotionally, Zach Randolph’s first game against the Memphis Grizzlies since they left the franchise. The game is in Sacramento, so there’s no jersey retirement or ovation to watch for. But I will spend my New Year’s Eve in tears watching him put 20-10 on Memphis like he should.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Memphis!

Follow @sbnGrizzlies