Here’s a shocking plot twist for you...
The Memphis Grizzlies were good on the same night that Marc Gasol and Mike Conley played well!
It’s been a common refrain for years now. When Mike and Marc both play, and play well, Memphis can compete with just about anyone in the NBA. Whether it was the Spurs, the Warriors, the Lob City Clippers or the Thunder of old with Kevin Durant and James Harden, a healthy Gasol and Conley tandem makes a world of difference for the bears of Beale Street.
If you’ve followed this team for some time, none of this is surprising. Yet again, here we are. Sure, Donovan Mitchell and company were not their best selves. But an upset victory over the talented Utah Jazz, in Utah, serves as a reminder for the rest of the NBA that the two leaders of the Grizzlies can still ball...and that makes Memphis dangerous.
On to the grades.
Marc and Mike get A’s for effort, not consistent offensive execution
It wasn’t the most efficient scoring showing for the two captains of the Memphis Grizzlies. A combined 12-35 shooting performance won’t get the job done most nights, but in this game, with both defenses showing off their potential, it is a bit more forgivable. This is especially true when you see the free throw numbers for both Conley and Gasol - 13-15 from the charity stripe (10-11 for Mike Conley alone) shows aggression and makes up for the inefficient shooting to an extent.
So why A’s in a game where the two best Grizzlies shot 34% from the floor? The way the impacted the night elsewhere. For Conley it was in his energy while grabbing seven (!!!) rebounds, tied for second on the team on the evening, and snagging three steals. You can tell there is still rust, but The Conductor is working his way back to peak play. Gasol, meanwhile, secured 13 boards himself (the best among all players on either team) and at times looked like his old Defensive Player of the Year self, showing good movement and rim protection.
Memphis will not always be able to score. They can, however, play with great effort and execute game plans on a nightly basis. Gasol and Conley showed in this contest that the game of basketball goes beyond scoring - impact can be made in a variety of ways.
Shelvin Mack’s random resurgence gets a B+
Shelvin Mack? Sure, why not.
Regardless of where you stand on the whole “backup point guard” debate that broke out on Grizzlies Twitter (led by GBBers, I will point out), there’s no denying that Shelvin had a good night. He got to the rim consistently, showed he can hit the perimeter shot (2-2 from beyond the arc), and also created some offense for others in three assists. There’s something to be said for a veteran presence in that role, and surely Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff see the value added through Mack’s ability to stay the course. It’s working so far.
Of course Andrew Harrison would seemingly have a higher ceiling than Mack at this stage of their careers. But Shelvin is doing something to earn the opportunity in the eyes of the coaching staff, and he’s making the most of it in games. No point in changing course right now.
Jaren Jackson Jr.’s first start gets a B+
This kid is fun to watch.
He is further ahead than just about everyone thought he’d be...and that’s saying something, considering the fact that folks like friend of GBB Peter Edmiston loved JJJ coming out of Michigan State.
Goodness, JJJ is working over Favors inside. His post game and footwork is so far ahead of where I thought it would be this early. Ceiling is somewhere outside the galaxy— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) October 23, 2018
He showed flashes of so much last night, from his low-post acumen to his understanding of spacing and closing off the lane for finishing penetrating perimeter players, that should make Grizzlies fans very excited for the future. There is room for growth, of course, but this is a friendly reminder that JJJ is 19 years old. He is being thrust in to a starting role that he may not be fully ready for, and against arguably the best front court in the NBA (until DeMarcus Cousins gets healthy for Golden State) he held his own and then some.
The ceiling for this season’s Grizzlies is directly connected to Jaren’s development over the weeks and month ahead. That makes for a fun storyline to watch moving forward.
- Dillon Brooks gets a B+ and hopefully keeps getting minutes. His best effort of the young season led to him leading Memphis in the imperfect stat of plus/minus (+18). He deserves more run. Hopefully his foot is OK and he will be back soon.
- Garrett Temple and Kyle Anderson get C’s...but more is needed. Memphis will need better production across 57 minutes of play from two guys who figure to see even more time on the court over the next few games. It’s not just scoring (although 4-13 shooting is less than ideal), it is rebounding, facilitation of offense, and getting to the free throw line. Two free throws between the two of them isn’t good enough.
- Chandler Parsons gets an incomplete...because...sigh. Six minutes, one rebound, one turnover, one foul, and one sore knee. It was fun while it lasted.
The Memphis Grizzlies are back in action tomorrow night against the Sacramento Kings. Game time is 9:00 PM CT.