WHEN: 9:00 PM CT
WHERE: Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- JaMychal Green (Out, jaw), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee), Dillon Brooks (Doubtful, foot), Garrett Temple (Probable, groin)
SACRAMENTO- Kosta Koufos (OUT, hamstring), Bogdan Bogdanovic-OUT (left knee procedure recovery), Iman Shumpert-QUESTIONABLE (sore left hip) (updated 1:12 PM CT)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
SACRAMENTO- De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Iman Shumpert, Nemanja Bjelica, Willie Cauley-Stein
Do you think they’re jealous yet?
The Sacramento Kings, of course, get a good bit of bad press for being...not so functional as a franchise. Yes, it’s true, Memphis and their Grizzlies aren’t a shining example of organizational efficiency themselves. Yet Memphis has at least had some recent playoff experience, in addition to some positive publicity for success as a whole (ESPN the Magazine’s #1 organization in all of sports some years ago) as well as in the front office (most loved their offseason).
Meanwhile, Sacramento gets Vlade jokes and the constant nagging knowledge that Luka Doncic...or Jaren Jackson Jr...could have been theirs.
And yet, they went with Marvin Bagley III.
Now of course Bagley could still become something pretty special. It’s only game five of the season for the Kings, after all, and Bagley deserves a chance to find his footing in the NBA. There’s no denying that Jackson, Doncic, Deandre Ayton and even Trae Young have shown flashes of why they were so highly regarded in the draft this past June. Of the top-five, Bagley has been the biggest “disappointment.”
Think Sacramento wants a do-over? Maybe not yet - Bagley dropped 20 points on the Nuggets last night, and of course is a talented player - but it may not be too far off if Doncic and Jackson stay consistent and Bagley does not.
Here’s what to watch for tonight.
De’Aaron Fox vs. Mike Conley
While Bagley vs. JJJ could be interesting at times, the best matchup on the floor Wednesday night will be a bit of present vs. future. Mike Conley, when healthy, is one of the top point guards in the NBA and it appears that Captain Clutch is on his way back to that level of play. Meanwhile, De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings has started the season like a man possessed. He posted a 22 point (on 12 shots)-10 assist double-double against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and his explosiveness and elite foot speed were on display on both ends of the floor. Fox doesn’t get the shine that Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz do, but he could very well wind up being better than both of those guys.
Conley will have his hands full defending Fox. How well he does on his own, and how much help he needs in hedging and rim protection, will directly impact defensive rotations. On the flip side, the harder Mike can make Fox work on the other end of the floor the better. Wear him out, make him work.
Who eats the wing minutes?
J.B. Bickerstaff is already learning a tough lesson that his predecessors also came to grips with as time went on. The Grizzlies are almost never healthy - this time the players on the perimeter as wings are taking the most direct hit. While Garrett Temple seems likely to play, both Chandler Parsons (a starter) and Dillon Brooks (had his best game of the season so far last game against the Utah Jazz) are out for the Sacramento showdown.
So who will see increased roles? Aside from the obvious of starting Kyle Anderson (which probably means he won’t do this), look for Wayne Selden Jr. to see the most direct opportunity increase. Wayne looked good against the Jazz, and Memphis should still be very interested in figuring out exactly what they have in the soon-to-be free agent. Thanks to the depth of the Grizzlies they have options (MarShon Brooks should also get some shots), but youth should continue to be served when questions like this arise.
Let’s be honest - as long as Shelvin Mack doesn’t eat more minutes and play more than Mike Conley, most folks will be happy.
Dave Joerger and Bickerstaff can commiserate about the injury woes of the Grizzlies.
It could most certainly be worse, however - while Parsons and knee soreness are about as connected as Frodo and Sam from Lord of the Rings and Dillon Brooks will be missed, the straws that stir the Grizzlies drink remain Marc and Mike. As long as Conley and Gasol are healthy and playing well, Memphis has a shot, as we saw against the Jazz on Monday night.
The Grizzlies went 2-1 over the Kings last season, and that was without a healthy Conley. While Mike will be tested by Fox, and the game will be closer than Grizzlies fans would like it to be, the Memphis winning streak will be extended to three games thanks in part to tired legs from Sacramento, who will be on the second night of a back to back after losing to Denver last night.
Memphis 97, Sacramento 93