The Grizzlies got their (pre)season started last night in a contest with the division rival Rockets, in which they fell 131-115. Memphis started out in control of the game, but eventually fell to the Rockets’ barrage of three pointers. As the game wore on, it was clear that both teams weren’t quite in game shape - there was a distinct lack of energy as the game wore on, but that will change as they play more. Tonight saw the long-awaited return of Mike Conley, as well as Jaren Jackson Jr.’s debut against real NBA players.
So who received what grades?
Let’s find out.
Mike Conley: B+
As I stated before, tonight was Conley’s first moments of meaningful basketball since last November, and his return was definitely encouraging. In 21 minutes, Mike had 16 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists and looked good doing it. He moved well on the court and didn’t show much rust from his extended absence. This is obviously an encouraging sign for the Grizzlies, since Conley is key to Memphis’ success this year. While preseason games don’t hold much value, seeing Conley back in action was definitely a welcome sight.
Jaren Jackson Jr.: B
Jaren Jackson got his first taste of real pro basketball tonight and for the most part it went well. Jackson flashed the potential that compelled the Grizzlies to draft him at no. 4 overall. He showed good awareness, flashed his 3-point range and made all six of his shots en route to a solid 15 point effort.
So why is his grade just a B? It’s because he was targeted on the defensive end most of the game. James Harden and Chris Paul routinely isolated Jackson and took him to the cleaners. To Jackson’s credit, he stayed with them as best as he could, he just wasn’t ready to hang with some of the best in the league quite yet. But adjusting to NBA defense will come with experience, and Jackson should get plenty of it.
Chandler Parsons: B+
Chandler Parsons has been quite the hot topic in Memphis recently, after writing a heartfelt piece in the Players Tribune about his desire to be in Memphis after two sub-par seasons. Well let me say that if he can play this year like he played tonight, much will be forgiven. Parsons looked great tonight. He hit two of his three attempts from downtown. He was able to get to the free throw line. He also had 5 rebounds and 2 assists and looked engaged on defense.
No one is expecting Parsons to play all 82 games and look like the guy he was in the past. But it seems that he is serious about wanting to be in Memphis and finally looks like he is ready to contribute over the course of the season. Tonight was a good first step for Chandler.
While no one likes to watch their team lose a game, this preseason contest was our first look at this new Grizzlies team and we can hope that the best is still to come as we draw closer to actual meaningful games.