Well here we are, 10 games into the 2018-19 NBA season and the Memphis Grizzlies are a “disappointing” 6-4. There have been jump out of your chair screaming and punch a hole in the wall moments so far this season, so let’s not waste any more time.
1. The Memphis Grizzlies should be 8-2
It feels weird just typing that out. Projections made by the “experts” and local media did not project the Grizzlies being 8-2, and they aren’t but THEY SHOULD BE. Two of the Grizzlies four losses have come by the hands of the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors. Both of those games were predicted and expected losses so who cares.
The other two losses? Yea how about the Sacramento Kings and the Phoenix Suns, two inexcusable blunders in the early part of the season (although Sacramento does appear to be better than they have been). When we reach the final weeks of the season and we are looking at two games to get into the playoff picture, these two will possibly be the first to pop into mind, especially Phoenix.
Now Memphis was not projected to win three of the five games they have won so far: Home against Denver and two road games against Utah. A projected 10 game start to the season would be 4-6, so 6-4 is awesome, but it feels less than that.
Which leads me to my second thought. . .
2.The Grizz play to the level of their opponent.
In both the Sacramento and Phoenix losses, the Grizzlies blew double digit leads. For years Memphis has never really figured out how to put a game away, how to destroy the hopes of a team coming back. For whatever reason, the Grizzlies seem to let most teams hang around.
When you see a team lose to a 1-7 Phoenix Suns, who are on a seven game losing streak, logic doesn't allow you to believe that they would beat 9-1 Nuggets team. But here we are again, the Memphis Grizzlies are a team that defies logic. The Grizzlies play playoff level basketball against good teams (except that second half showing against the Warriors) and lottery level basketball against bad teams at times. Its the roller coaster Grizz nation has been riding for years, and this year the rides looks as if its going to continue.
3. Kyle Anderson is not the 3 and D wing we were looking for.
He’s not even the scoring wing we have been looking for. The dude looks allergic to putting the ball in the basket at times. The thing is, your level of disappointment with Anderson depends on your expectation for him. If you expect him to put up 12-15 points, knock down threes, and shut down the other team’s star, then you will be let down almost every game.
Rather than looking at Anderson to be a Kawhi Leonard for this team, the Grizzlies should use him as a skinnier Draymond Green. Green does not have a night where he is expected to contribute anything as far as points in the Golden State offense. Instead, Green is used as a playmaker and defender. That is exactly how the Grizzlies should use Anderson, let Mike Conley play off ball while Anderson facilitates on offense. Any point Anderson gets in transition or on some cuts to the basket are a bonus.
Accept Anderson for what he is. Stop expecting him to be something he is not and you will no longer be let down but fully appreciative.
Speaking of Mike Conley. . .
4. Mike Conley is struggling, but it should be expected.
It is a borderline miracle that the Grizzlies are winning games while Mike Conley has been down right bad. Mike has the highest usage rate (27.5%) on the team this season but has a negative overall plus-minus (-.4) so far this year. He is also shooting 28% from 3 and 40% from the field.
We know that Mike is better than this, but people underestimate how tough it is to get back into game shape after missing over a year of basketball. These are the best athletes in the world, and in the beginning of the season, they are all fresh. To expect Conley to be awesome right now is completely unrealistic.
When Mike finds his rhythm, this team could be a nightmare for other teams, just like the old days.
5. Shelvin Mack is proving everyone wrong, so far.
I do not recall anyone approving or even understanding the Mack signing, let alone expecting this kind of production. The majority of fans and writers alike were perplexed by the team bringing on Mack because of the drafting of Jevon Carter and the presence of Andrew Harrison. Count me as one of those people.
Mack earned the backup spot over Harrison and played well enough to even have him cut (now he is a 2-way player for the Cavaliers). Heck, Mack has even played better than the starter, yes that is Mike Conley. It is not a stretch at all to say that the Grizzlies do not have six wins at this point without the play of Shelvin Mack.
Hot Take alert: Mack could be the best back up point guard this franchise has seen. I know it has been ten games, and his play will come down to earth, but its a hot take for a reason. The Grizzlies need him to continue his stellar play until Mike finds his footing.