The Memphis Grizzlies picked up a massive win last night against the Denver Nuggets. It was massive in that it showed that the stars of the Grizzlies can do what they are supposed to do and dominate inferior opposition. It was another win against a team they are supposed to beat. And it was a great performance rebounding in particular, as Memphis outpaced Denver on the boards 49-39. This is especially impressive considering the Nuggets are the best rebounding team in the NBA.
Plenty of good grades to give out for this game. Unfortunately there is one particularly bad grade.
Mike Conley- A+
31 points. 9-16 shooting. 5-9 from three. 8-11 from the charity stripe. 5 assists. Simply put, Mike was the best player on the floor last night for either team. He orchestrated the Grizzlies offense in the fourth quarter to the tune of 37 points in the frame for the team, and his play alongside Marc Gasol (more on him in a moment) was the catalyst for the huge final frame for Memphis. Mike was terrific.
Marc Gasol- A
Another terrific performance from the best Grizzlies player of all-time. Marc Gasol of Memphis scored 23 points on 9-17 shooting and made 3-6 three-point shots. The conversions from range are big for Marc, who has struggled from deep as of late. Marc also had six assists and five rebounds while limiting the young but very talented Nikola Jokic to only 10 points, which seems to be a well-rounded showing. So why just an A? 4 turnovers. Mike Conley only had 1. So Mike gets the higher grade, but make no mistake, Marc was excellent.
Zach Randolph- A
Randolph had arguably his most well-rounded performance of the season Sunday evening. 20 points on 50% shooting and 11 rebounds? Yawn. Zach has been doing that for years on years on years. But what shined through in his grade in this game was his defense and ability to set screens on offense. Randolph’s professionalism has been a huge part of why Memphis is 10 games over .500 this season. He has more double-doubles than anyone in the NBA who is a reserve player, and if it wasn’t for Eric Gordon he would be the Sixth Man of the Year. He’s been that important for the Grizzlies.
The Bench (Vince Carter, Toney Douglas, Troy Daniels)- C+
These guys benefited from Zach Randolph’s great night but their +/- numbers show how they meshed well and at least didn’t make things mess up for Memphis when the reserves were in. Carter was +14 in 26 minutes, Douglas was +12 in 20 minutes, and Daniels was +10 in 18 minutes. They were a combined 2-10 from deep, which did not help a ton, but they did enough in their time on the floor to enable Gasol, Conley, and Randolph to handle the load.
JaMychal Green- C+
JaMychal continues to commit silly fouls. And if Memphis hopes to succeed in the postseason, they will need more offensive production from him than 1-3 shooting. But he did grab 10 rebounds and shoot 6-6 from the free throw line. His ability to defend all types of bigs and move on the perimeter remains valuable, but performances like this one make you wonder if a 4 year, $50 million contract for JaMychal (very possible) is a solid investment.
Tony Allen- C-
Trick or Treat Tony was on full display in Denver. 5 steals? TREAT! 4 turnovers? TRICK? Allen giveth, and Allen taketh away. That is what TA is at this point more often than not. He is still an elite defender, but he has to gamble more to be that guy. Sometimes it pays off, other times it throws off defensive rotations. Sometimes Allen slashes to the basket at the right time, others he randomly throws the ball out of bounds. We are where we are.
Chandler Parsons- D-
This hurts me more than it hurts Chandler. But his play against Denver was just not where you would hope he would be on February 26th, even taking his injury in to account. His shot is still flat. He is still being begged by defenders to shoot. You read that right- OPPOSING TEAMS ARE BEGGING CHANDLER PARSONS TO SHOOT. That just sucks. Sure, he looked better at the start of the game on defense. And the main reason he doesn’t have an F is the driving lay-up he would have made if not for a JaMychal Green offensive foul.
But he gets the lowest D- possible. Why? Body language. For the first time I can remember since Parsons became a Grizzly, Chandler looked defeated. He may just be frustrated- goodness knows he should be. But especially in the third quarter he just seemed like a beaten fighter, someone who knew he didn’t have it.
There is still time for that to change. I remain on “Team Chancun”. Memphis won in Denver without Chandler Parsons, Brandan Wright (out for personal reasons), and James Ennis (a surprising DNP- coaches decision) so why not allow for him to continue to try to find his way? That will have to stop at some point, though, as the Grizzlies prepare for the playoffs.
When do you move on and shut Parsons down for the year? March 15th? April 1st? Never? That is going to potentially be the defining decision for David Fizdale in his first season as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.