To paraphrase Sacramento Kings’ announcer Grant Napear: if you didn’t like last night’s game, you don’t like NBA basketball.
Last night was arguably a beautiful game of basketball to say the least. There was a perfect blend of old-school, defensive-minded and the pace-and-space basketball. The game never really got ugly or sloppy. Both teams exuded effort similar to a playoff game, which in turn generated a playoff atmosphere — super weird for a Kings game, I know. Though it was a seesaw affair, the Memphis Grizzlies clawed out a 112-104 over the Kings, as the trio of Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Jaren Jackson Jr. led the way for the Grizzlies.
On the opposing side though, the Sacramento Kings actually resemble a competent basketball team — who would’ve thought that? De’Aaron Fox could very well go down as the best point guard of any draft class from the past five years, as his combination of quickness and craftiness leave you in awe. Bogdan Bogdanovic (such a dope name, to be honest. Be right back, changing my name to Parker Parkerovic) and Buddy Hield are perfect wings to complement their speedy point guard. Willie Cauley-Stein is an excellent vertical-spacer, serving as a nice lob threat. Marvin Bagley was the second pick and is also very promising in his own right.
Also, free ZBo.
Though I just gassed up the Kings right there, it doesn’t erase the fact that they were losers in this game — nothing different from the past 13 years.
How did our Grizzlies grade out in this game?
The Bench Guys: C+
I’m going to mix it up and start with the bench, because I really want to end on a high note here.
To get the ugly out of the way, Omri Casspi and MarShon Brooks were rather lackluster in this game. Casspi did hit a 3 with his goofy jumper, but he made a minimal impact in his return from injury. He only played 9 minutes and had a +/- of -11, a team-low. MarShon Brooks was the only other negative (-5) in the +/- department for this game. He couldn’t really get anything going offensively, and when that’s the case, he doesn’t serve much purpose on the court.
When watching the game, Shelvin Mack didn’t really stand out. When you look at the box score though, he was huge in this win. He nearly tallied a double-double, as he scored 9 points and dished out 8 assists. In addition, he had a team-high +14 +/- in 27 minutes of action. He continues to solidify his case as Conley’s best backup point guard ever.
Wayne Selden has been an underrated player for the Grizzlies this season, and he proved so again last night. He finished with 10 points on 5-12 shooting, doing most of his damage above the rim. He’s a weird case of 3-and-D players, as he can space the floor (41.9 percent from 3 this season), defend multiple positions, and create his own shot. The Grizzlies should look to spoon-feed him more opportunities, while Dillon Brooks and Chandler Parsons are out of action.
Kyle Anderson: C-
Kyle Anderson continues to be an ... interesting ... player for the Grizzlies. He doesn’t score the ball too well, and there’s a measurement of a player’s worth for most fans. I even heard someone say “Slo-Mo has 2 points and 4 fouls ...” in disgust. However, he does play excellent defense and did so last night, finishing with two steals. The Grizzlies must continue experimenting with Anderson on the offensive end, as he’s simply too good of a defender to keep off the floor.
Mike Conley: C+
Mike Conley was rather quiet in this game, as he finished with 19 points and 6 assists. He missed 4 of his 8 free throw attempts, a rarity for a good free-throw shooter like Conley. There wasn’t much he did that really stood out to me, but he didn’t need to carry such a burden in this one.
Garrett Temple: B
Garrett Temple continues to be instrumental in Grizzlies’ wins. He played strong defense on the Kings’ wings, as he corralled 3 steals. He also spaced the floor well on the offense — splashing 3 of his 4 triples. While Temple is out making a legitimate impact for a playoff-bound team, Ben McLemore — one of the players the Grizzlies gave up to get him — wasn’t even on the Kings’ bench last night.
I love this trade more and more every day.
Marc Gasol: A
Marc Gasol was quiet in the first quarter but came alive from that point on. He simply looked energizing, as he played with a competitive edge. He finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, breaking Zach Randolph’s franchise all-time rebounding record. Gasol was big in this one, serving as a spectacular anchor on defense and hitting clutch shots down the stretch.
Jaren Jackson Jr.: A+
This is now a Jaren Jackson Jr. blog.
Last night, you saw a glimpse of Jackson’s terrorizing two-way potential. He came out swinging out of the gate, as he cooked Bjelicia — hitting him with that silky smooth left-handed hook shot and taking him off the dribble. In addition, he schooled #2 pick Marvin Bagley, a sight that would’ve sent Pre-Draft Parker into cardiac arrest. Defensively, Jackson finished with 4 steals and 2 blocks, because he’s an absolute pterodactyl on that end of the floor. Though he flashed nice defensive stats, his ability to close out on 3’s is intriguing. He didn’t block any shots out there, but he certainly affected their shots.
Jackson finished with a career-high 27 points on 11-16 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks, showcasing a bit of everything that makes him a high-upside prospect.
If you expected Jackson to be this good this quick, you’re absolutely lying. Watching him develop is going to be so damn fun.
The Grizzlies will look to extend their winning streak to 3 games, as they travel to Minnesota to take on a rejuvenated Timberwolves for some Sunday afternoon basketball. Go grab some Sunday brunch and some mimosas, and tune into Fox Sports Southeast at 2:30PM CT for some Grizzlies basketball.