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The Week-side Help: Week 2 - Winning Time

Recapping a week where Memphis gets their first winning record in almost a year and having fun with small sample sizes

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Week 2 Results

Memphis Grizzlies (2-1) 92 @ Utah Jazz 84 Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies (2-2) 92 @ Sacramento Kings 97 Recap | Box Score

Phoenix Suns 96 @ Memphis Grizzlies 117 (3-2) Recap | Box Score

Week 2 Storylines

-Memphis’ 2-1 week propels them to a winning record for the season (3-2)

-Chandler Parsons suffered another knee injury Monday against the Utah Jazz. He has not played since and the Grizzlies consider his injury “day-to-day”

-Required Reading: The rare solo required reading, but this piece is worth the space. GBB’s Nathan Chester examines Marc Gasol, how the franchise and the city have hung on to dear life to the old idea of Big Spain, and how to readjust that going forward.

Week 2 Thoughts

-The Yuta man made his debut this week! It wasn’t very meaningful in terms of minutes and Watanabe just notched two points and two rebounds in garbage time, but it gives me a chance to share this lovely video of him dancing (it’s the effort that counts) in preseason. He’s also just the second ever Japanese-born person to play in the NBA. Kudos.

-Jaren Jackson Jr. picked a bad time to try out his new “being a bad shooter” trick. JJJ’s shooting splits in the first two game, off the bench, (.556/.400/.800) look a lot better than his shooting splits in this week’s three games as a starter (.394/.000/.833). We’re dealing with the smallest of sample sizes here, but it’d be good confirmation just to see him get buckets against a team that isn’t the Atlanta Hawks.

-Let’s talk about the rookie’s defense, too. He is showing he belongs on the floor, at least. He knows where to be and can react to the opposing offense rather quickly in terms of body placement and knowing who to pick up. But the fouls are a problem. They were a problem at Michigan State and one of the few weaknesses on his scouting report. It seems to have carried over to the NBA as he’s averaging 4.4 fouls per game on just 25 minutes a night. He isn’t going to get any benefit of the doubt from refs as a rookie, but he isn’t helping his case with unnecessary reaches and swipes, either.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

-The last time Memphis had a winning record? November 13th, 2017 when the Grizzlies were 7-6. Now, Memphis is at 3-2. Nothing can go wrong here, keep it moving.

-The bench is looking more and more like a bunch of guys rather than a group that can complement the starters. We have depth in terms of the amount of guys that can play stretches during the game, but all the bench players feel interchangeable. There’s no scoring punch, despite MarShon Brooks’ night-to-night potential. This bench is struggling.

-Dillon Brooks embodies that struggle. He had a surprisingly good (by 2nd-round draft pick standards) season a year ago. So good that he forced himself into the starting lineup early and was the only Grizzly to play all 82 games. This year? I’m not exactly missing him when he’s on the bench. An astounding 4.2 points per game on 30.4% field goal shooting has him in the clubhouse for Least Valuable Grizzly right now.

Fun with Sample Size

One of my favorite parts about the beginning of an NBA season are the wild stats put up in the first handful of games. Is Zach Lavine just going to average 30 a night the rest of the year? Probably not, but he is right in this moment and that’s all that matters.

Let’s check out some of the weird, curious statistics the Grizzlies have accumulated throughout the year.

39%: Marc Gasol and Mike Conley’s combined field goal percentage. Surely, one must be dragging down the collective percentage, right? WRONG. Marc is shooting 38.7% while Mike is shooting 39.2%, a negligible difference. What isn’t negligible is how the two leaders of this team have been anything but on the offensive end. Marc Gasol shot 42.0% from the field a year ago, and I was willing to attribute that to him being the only offensive weapon that defenses needed to worry about. But with Mike back and a “new” coach, it appears to be more of the same....in these five games at least.

4th: Memphis’ rank in defensive rating for the new season. For context, Memphis was 26th with a 111.0 rating a year ago. This year’s 103.2 rating is the result of a few different players who have either joined the team or returned. Garrett Temple and Kyle Anderson have proven to be great additions defensively as veteran wings who can steady the ship when the younger players let things get out of hand. Mike Conley’s return has also helped; he may have lost a step temporarily recovering from the injury, but he’s all there mentally and you can see it when he plays. Is this going to sustain itself? It depends on how healthy Memphis can be and it depends on the evolution of the bench as a dependable unit.

Week 3 Schedule and Preview

Washington Wizards @ Memphis Grizzlies Tues. Oct. 30th, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Utah Jazz Fri. Nov. 6th 9:00 PM ET/8:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Phoenix Suns Sun. Nov. 4th, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

We’re already doing reruns??? Washington is the only new team on the schedule this week. Hey, we even played at Utah last week! I had to double and triple check to make sure I had the right week. Get new material, NBA.

Washington added Austin Rivers to their bench, instantly making him their best bench player of the last five years. It doesn’t look like it’s much help though as the Wizards are 1-4 on the season, with their only win being a 1-point squeaker against the Trail Blazers in Portland. Dwight Howard is also on this team, but he likely won’t be playing. He is out with, as basketball-reference.com puts it, “Gluteal Soreness.” Same, Dwight. Same.

Meanwhile, Memphis gets to play Utah again, this time with the added confidence boost of beating them on their home floor last Monday. Last week for the road Utah game I said to make sure Utah doesn’t score 123 points (that was all they scored in their two games before us) and we would win. Well lo and behold, Utah didn’t score 123 points and Memphis won. Basketball mind right here. I’m diagnosing plays in real-time. Chess, not checkers. I should be hired by a front office any day now.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, Phoenix again. Deandre Ayton made Memphis look silly with any attempt to guard him. He posted a statline we expected from him in college (24 points, 12-13 FG, 8 rebounds, 5 assists), but it was a lot of empty calories considering the 21-point final deficit. Still, that production can’t be ignored, especially with how easy he made it look against our big men. Devin Booker didn’t get to play in Saturday’s match-up and it remains to be seen if he’ll be available for the game this Sunday. He did not play against Memphis on Saturday nor against Oklahoma City on Sunday. Needless to say, his presence or absence will play a huge role in game two of this season series.

Have a good week, Memphis.

Follow @sbnGrizzlies