WHERE: Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: NBA League Pass/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
HOUSTON: P.J. Tucker (back, OUT), Nene Hilario (calf, OUT)
MEMPHIS: MarShon Brooks (illness, OUT), Ivan Rabb (concussion, OUT), Yuta Watanabe (shoulder, OUT)
The Memphis Grizzlies are (sort of) back!
Tonight is the start of a long journey that will take us through multiple seasons, six (and hopefully more) months, and 87 guaranteed games including the preseason. Memphis has a lot of questions that need to be answered, but we will not get those all in one sweeping motion tonight. The key is to look for who is in shape, who is healthy, and how these new pieces are potentially going to be deployed by J.B Bickerstaff. Scheme is relatively bland in preseason, but execution this early and who the reps are being shared with matters and is worth watching.
No offense to the Rockets, but the opponent is meaningless this time of year. Here’s what to look for with the Grizzlies tonight.
This in no way would mean that this is the starting lineup come opening night in two weeks, and of course minutes and who finishes games means just as much (if not more) than who starts. But most agree that there are three guys locked in to starting spots - Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Kyle Anderson. From there, there are varying levels of questions. At power forward, most assume JaMychal Green will begin the season as the starter while Jaren Jackson Jr. serves the role of “first big off the bench”. But JJJ is clearly the future, and JaMychal probably isn’t - how soon does the Jaren Era begin?
The real question is at the shooting guard spot. Dillon Brooks is the incumbent, and his scoring prowess and growth last season in a disaster zone makes for a strong argument to see what he can do in the role on a team actually trying to be good. However, Garrett Temple is a veteran presence and can facilitate offense better than Dillon at this stage of their careers. Assuming Mike Conley needs to be a scorer for this team to compete (as I do), him as a secondary ball handler alongside The Conductor makes sense.
We start to see how Bickerstaff is leaning tonight.
Is Chandler Parsons officially a “big”?
The bench unit will not be fully developed until probably the end of this month at the earliest, but it is safe to assume that Chandler Parsons will be a part of it. Will it be as a wing or as a big, though? Chandler has the size at 6’10” to be that (in theory) prototypical stretch four, and after years of issues with his knees his losing a step can be negated a bit by defending other fours. He can also be a creator on the ball for himself and others, facilitating offense for a second unit that will need to find scoring somewhere.
On a team lacking traditional power forward depth, Parsons in this role makes a lot of sense. Does the coaching staff agree?
Is Andrew Harrison on the outside looking in?
With the arrivals of Jevon Carter in the 2018 NBA Draft and Shelvin Mack in free agency, one of two things has to be true - either the Grizzlies see Harrison as more of a wing than a point guard, or he is in the midst of a serious competition. Harrison is in a contract year, and after a season (again, a bad one for the team) where he got a lot of minutes and showed some growth in his game he surely will be looking to make an impact. Where he gets those mintues is important for his role moving forward...but it also may be a question of if he gets minutes at all.
Tonight he should be fine, considering MarShon Brooks is out. Between training camp practices and these preseason games, though, Harrison must prove he’s worthy of rotation consideration. Otherwise he may be spending his last season in Memphis.