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The Week-side Help: Week 13-Halfway Home

A tanking update, a returning Zach Randolph, and more in recapping the Grizzlies’ week at the midway point of the season.

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Week 13 Results

New Orleans Pelicans 102 @ Memphis Grizzlies 105 (13-27) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 78 (13-28) @ Denver Nuggets 87 Recap | Box Score

Week 13 Storylines

-Memphis splits the week, going 1-1 as they hit the midway point of the season

-Report: The Grizz are shopping Ben McLemore and James Ennis, according to Michael Scotto at Basketball Insiders.

-Memphis will honor and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. on his eponymous holiday and debut their MLK50 uniforms tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers.

-The Memphis Grizzlies have waived Vince Hunter and signed G/F Myke Henry to a two-way contract.

Week 13 Thoughts

-Thank goodness this atrocity of a season is halfway over.

-If they play the second half as they did the first, this team is going to end up 26-56, its worst record since 2008-2009. So don’t worry Memphis fans, the silver lining of this season will be Hasheem Thabeet coming to save us.

-It took the Pelicans missing five players, including Anthony Davis, for Memphis to make a huge comeback and win by three at home. I don’t have a take, that’s just what happens now.

-That game could have gone either way. Tyreke and Marc played really well in the fourth, even if not together. They would have miscommunication on a screen and roll in the fourth quarter and yet the play still ended up in a successful Marc Gasol mid-range jumper. It took a lot of steps to get there. A lot of bad, ugly, steps. But it was another two points that the Grizzlies needed to put away the Pelicans. Unsustainable, but I’m sure no one on the Grizzlies cared about that because a win is a win, and the players probably aren’t as excited to tank as I am.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

-I have no clue how, but the Grizzlies looked like the 2014 Spurs on defense in the first quarter against Denver.

-Every Denver game I watch makes me wish Will Barton was a Grizzly. I mean hey, Tyreke came back. Will Barton is a free agent after this year. Would be a reeeeal shame if Memphis signed him. A reeeeal shame.

-Memphis’ offense was atrocious against the Nuggets, but the free throw disparity is what killed them the most. Denver shot 26-32 from the line while Memphis went 11-14 in a 9-point game.

-Seriously, Memphis couldn’t be called for more fouls. Everyone who played that night for the Grizzlies had two fouls except for Wayne Selden, who logged a measly three minutes. He still at least got one foul in.

-In terms of style of play and actual execution, is Memphis the most unwatchable team in the league? They aren’t running and gunning like bad young teams like Phoenix or Brooklyn. And Memphis doesn’t have any blue-chip prospects to watch develop and grow. If you’ve seen one Memphis game this year, that might be one too much.

-In our GBB awards roundtable, I gave James Ennis the MVP because we couldn’t give it to Tyreke. I thought I was kind of crazy, but the Denver game where he scored 10 points in the 2nd quarter is all the proof I need. I have a very low bar.

-If Myke Henry’s nickname doesn’t become “The World’s Strongest Man” I will be upset online.

Official Permanent Lottery Watch of the Week

Exactly four months out from the NBA Lottery, Memphis stays at the #4 spot, which is a little surprising considering how bunched up this entire lottery situation has become. That’s why wins like the one over the Pelicans last week are so scary, if the Grizzlies get cold and win 3-5 games in a row that could be bad enough to drop them five or six spots in the lottery. Wins are just going to happen in an NBA schedule, but we just have to keep our head down, stay strong, keep working at it and we’ll be back at the top of the lottery in no time, Memphis.

Props to Orlando, man. They might be most in need of a superstar talent than anyone in the league. Good thing that they’re tanking like it.

Speaking of tanking, what a better way to celebrate the elegant, graceful tank that the Grizzlies don’t know they’re a part of by buying this shirt (below). 50% of proceeds to Grizzly Bear Blues will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital right here in Memphis. We’re all proud to have GBB gear, but this shirt is helping a worthy cause.

Prospect of the Week

This week’s prospect to know is Luka Doncic. The best international player of this draft is also arguably the best player in the whole class. Doncic is a 6’8 220 pound SG with terrific ball-handling, passing, and shooting skills. He’s a fairly average athlete, but he makes up for it in talent. He can score from all three levels, increasingly well from beyond the arc.

The thing is I don’t know how he translates to the NBA. I’m often wrong about which college players’ successes can translate to the NBA. I’m clueless on international competition. What I can see, however, is that Doncic would be a minus athlete in terms of physical attributes in the NBA. If the speed of the NBA is too much for him, I wouldn’t be surprised. But other (smarter) people than me have him as a consensus top-5 prospect and you won’t have to look long to find a mock draft with him at the #1 slot. Whether my amateur scouting eyes are right or wrong don’t matter, what matters is that this is a prospect the Grizzlies need to be familiar with if they’re going to be picking in the top-5.

Performance of the Week

JaMychal Green vs NOP, 20 pts (7-12 FG, 6-6 FT) 14 rebs, 2 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk, 0 +/-

Anthony Davis was missing from this matchup and JaMychal Green took advantage. It was his second 20-point game of the season and eighth of his career. JaM was extremely active in the post without the added interference AD would bring. He was cutting and rolling off of screens towards the rim effectively. Most of his points came from scoring off of offensive rebounds or being fouled after snatching one.

JaMychal does a lot of the dirty work that the Grizzlies ask of big men. With Gasol and Evans as the entire offense, they aren’t going to anchor our defense on their own. JaMychal Green being a willing and active defender is huge. Rebounding is still a big part of defense and JaM does a good job at positioning himself before the shot hits the rim to be ready.

Week 14 Schedule and Preview

Los Angeles Lakers @ Memphis Grizzlies Mon. Jan 15th (Tonight!) 5:30 ET/4:30 CT

New York Knicks @ Memphis Grizzlies Weds. Jan 17th 8:00 ET/7:00 CT

Sacramento Kings @ Memphis Grizzlies Fri. Jan 19th 8:00 ET/7:00 CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ New Orleans Pelicans Sat. Jan 20th 7:00 ET/6:00 CT

After four games in two weeks, the Grizzlies will play as many in a six-night span this week.

The first three of four are at home, starting off with the Lakers in FedexForum for Memphis’ annual MLK Day game and festivities. The Lakers have played well since Lavar Ball expressed criticism of head coach Luke Walton. They play at the fastest pace in the league and they’re riding a four game winning streak into Monday. However, Los Angeles still has the 29th ranked offense in the league, there’s a chance their shooters could get cold.

But finally, the return to Memphis we’ve all been waiting for.

That’s right.

Courtney Lee is playing Memphis on Wednesday. I hope we retire his number then.

Just kidding (no I’m not), but the game circled on the calendar this week is when the Kings come to town on Friday night. Vince Carter, Dave Joerger (lol), and Zach Randolph will make their way to FedexForum. This will be the first time Z-Bo has been in Memphis as a member of the other team since Feb. 6th, 2009. As a member of the CLIPPERS. What a turn of events the ensuing eight years would bring.

What’s most important about the game is off-the-court, where Memphis will retire Zach Randolph’s jersey as they did Tony Allen earlier in the season. Yes its weird to retire an active player’s number, but I don’t give a single flying hoot about what any national media personality or writer has to say about it. Zach Randolph is the epitome of the Memphis Grizzlies. We would still be a laughingstock if not for him and the Core Four. Z-Bo deserves every bit of recognition that Memphis can give him. I am already tearing up.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Memphis celebrates and honors Martin Luther King Jr on this day unlike most places around the country. Not only does it ring true in the city, but the Grizzlies organization as well. Everyone in the city and in that organization know that Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact in Memphis is still felt to this day. And his peaceful message in the face of violent and vile bigotry should be commended and inspiring to the days we live in now. MLK’s message is timeless and powerful, which makes me happy to see the Grizzlies embrace the connection.

Memphis will be holding a forum and celebration at the National Civil Rights Museum and in FedexForum. For “MLK50”, the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, the Grizzlies will wear special uniforms that invoke the imagery of the Memphis sanitation strikes 50 years ago.

On this day, take some time to learn more about Martin Luther King if you’d like. I think his life and his story go much further beyond his “I have a dream” speech. And the more one learns about his life, the more one can see parallels in today’s society. I am no expert nor historian, but I recommend reading his letter from Birmingham jail and “Our God is Marching On!” his speech toward the end of the 1965 Selma-Montgomery march. I know you’re off work today you can read both of them with plenty of time to spare.

Enjoy the holiday, Memphis. And have a good week.

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