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Week-side Help: Week 8 - Noah Fence, but Joakim might be good for this team

Mike Conley hype is at an all-time high, Jaren Jackson’s fatal flaw pops up, and Joakim Noah makes his debut in a significant week of Grizzlies basketball

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Week 8 Results

Los Angeles Clippers 86 @ Memphis Grizzlies 96 (14-9) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 107 (15-9) @ New Orleans Pelicans 103 Recap | Box Score

Los Angeles Lakers 111 @ Memphis Grizzlies 88 (15-10) Recap | Box Score

Week 8 Storylines

-C Joakim Noah made his Memphis Grizzlies debut against the Los Angeles Clippers. He totaled 4 points and 3 rebounds in about 13 minutes of play.

-Memphis goes 2-1 on the week, splitting their series against Los Angeles teams

-Required Reading: GBB’s Justin Lewis beats the drum for Jevon Carter, why it’s time to see him on the main roster and why he can be a critical part of a two-point guard lineup. | Some fans and analysts wanted to see Memphis trade their #4 overall pick in June for an All-Star. Now that that pick has blossomed into a unicorn, GBB’s Site Manager Joe Mullinax lists the actual All-Stars worthy of trading Jaren Jackson Jr. for, and why it’s such an impossible, exclusive list.

Week 8 Thoughts

-I didn’t see the need for Joakim Noah on this team. Just last week I talked about how I do not think he has much left in the tank and a younger option with less mileage could be available as a backup center. But this week just reminded me: no one is signing Noah for his skill or his talent, it’s for the intangibles. He brings energy and hustle every time he’s on the court and we don’t need him to do much of anything on offense. If he can be the hustle/leadership/locker room/cliche guy that every team needs, then why not!

-Also, feels like Joakim Noah would have been PERFECT on that ragtag 2015-16 squad.

-It felt good to get a win back on the Clippers after letting an easy one slip away last go around. Honestly, winning in a game where Boban Marjanovic, PER God by the way, shot 12 free in 13 minutes. Memphis played great defense, and holding WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE MONTH TOBIAS HARRIS to 2-13 shooting from the field will go a long way in holding the 6th-ranked offense to 86 points.

Boban Marjanovic’s absurd PER numbers. From basketball-reference.com

-I want this known for the record: I don’t find great pleasure in beating the Clippers anymore more than any other team. The subtraction of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and the addition of Tobias Harris and Boban have made them the most likable team in the league. Sorry, it’s just true.

-Memphis did well against New Orleans to make sure the role players didn’t go off. Anthony Davis got his, Jrue Holiday got his, Julius Randle got his, but that’s it. They combined for 71 points--which is a great contribution from three players, but the rest combined for 32 points on 31.4% shooting, compared to the 45.2% the entire team shot from the field.

-Jaren Jackson’s foul issues have been there in college and all year in the pros, but they were on big display against New Orleans. He played himself out of rhythm with early and untimely fouls that, to put it nicely, had him shook for the whole game. Like I said the problem has always been there, so fans and analysts shouldn’t just assume he’ll get better. But in the past his play has overshadowed his fatal fouling flaw, but when it doesn’t, it looks reeeeal ugly like it did in New Orleans.

-Luckily for Memphis, they played well enough as a whole to overcome it. JaMychal Green stepped up with huge threes and 24 points off the bench. He should probably stay on the bench and one game should cost JJJ his starting spot, but for at least that game, JaM came to freakin’ play.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

-Against the Lakers, Memphis looked like every bit of a team that played the night before. They couldn’t get into any type of rhythm offensively and the Lakers’ good defense didn’t help matters. In the first half, the team scored 40 points on 42.5% shooting from the field and shot a paltry 5-19 (26.3%) from deep. It didn’t get better. Memphis was lifeless and going through the motions against a LeBron team in December, a situation known for going through the motions.

-It was such an an embarrassing loss I am ashamed to talk about it. It being hidden on a Saturday night feels like savvy public relations in retrospect.

-This week has been a huge week for Mike Conley’s All-Star campaign in terms of media coverage. Everyone from GBB’s Nathan Chester, to World Wide Wob, to Mike Conley himself has campaigned for the biggest All-Star snub in recent years to get his first nod. But is this really the year for it?

-I will say this, it may be more likely he gets in this year than any other year in the past. In the same way Leonardo DiCaprio got his first Oscar for The Revenant instead of, ya know, the half dozen-or-so performances in his past that were actually more deserving.

-Mike Conley is averaging 20 points per game for the second time in his career. Which is great. But it’s on his highest usage of his career (27.9%), the most field goal attempts per game of his career (16.3) and the second-worst FG% of this career (41.4%) with the only worse rate being last year when he battled a heel injury before missing the entire season. These aren’t to say Mike Conley is bad. In fact, he’s pretty freakin’ great. He’s absolutely carried us to the successes we’ve had this season.

And he deserves to have “All-Star” on his resume when all is said and done. But I just don’t think that this season is an especially good one to hold up as an example.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Week 9 Schedule and Preview

Memphis Grizzlies @ Denver Nuggets, Mon. Dec. 10th, 9 PM ET/8 PM CT

Portland Trail Blazers @ Memphis Grizzlies Weds. Dec. 12th, 8 PM ET/7 PM CT

Miami Heat @ Memphis Grizzlies Fri. Dec. 14th, 8 PM ET/7 PM CT

Houston Rockets @ Memphis Grizzlies Sat. Dec. 15th, 8 PM ET/7 PM CT

A lot of firsts for the Grizzlies this week, including their first matchup with the Houston Rockets, despite playing the entirety of their season series in the first two months of last season.

But let’s start with the Denver game, because that’s how time works. They and Memphis have met once before in early November and the Grizzlies squeaked out a win. They played at a glacial pace and really controlled the game, which threw off the offensive rhythm of a usually very good offensive team in the Nuggets. Unfortunately for Denver, the injury bug has bit them bad.

Paul Millsap broke his toe on Friday, Isaiah Thomas continues to be held out to recover from his hip injury, and now it appears Gary Harris will miss approximately a month due to a hip injury of his own. It feels like Denver has never had their full roster of players available during Michael Malone’s coaching tenure, which is unfortunate for wasting Nikola Jokic’s talent. In the micro, Memphis needs to take advantage of the short-handed Nuggets to get another win on Monday.

Ah yes, the Trail Blazers. The team I continue to irrationally hate despite having two legitimate All-Stars. CJ McCollum acting holier than thou about Kevin Durant joining the Warriors is one of the most annoying shticks in the world. In the same world they got swept as the #3 seed to #6 seed Pelicans last April. I will refuse to take them seriously, no matter how badly they beat the Grizzlies or how much postseason success. I have no legitimate analysis of this game and hope Memphis beats the brakes off of Portland.

This week also marks the first time Memphis plays the Miami Heat, who are still recovering from a prolonged Jimmy Butler trade that never actually happened. Miami is a lot like Memphis in terms of roster construction and performance. Borderline All-Star point guard, a bunch of solid two-way wings, a top-10 defense and bottom-10 offense. The difference is Miami plays at a much faster pace and their shot distribution is much more even. Five Heat (Heats? Heatles?) average 10 shots a game, compared to Memphis’ roster which has just two players that cross that threshold, Marc and Mike.

There is no go-to guy in the Miami offense, but the closest there is to one may be Josh Richardson, who’s having a breakout year playing stellar defense and averaging a career-high points per game (19.6) while taking on a much bigger role in the offense. Making sure he’s contained and forcing the rest of the team to beat them may be Memphis’ best shot at winning.

And finally, back to those Rockets I mentioned earlier (that’s what I like to call a “tease” in the media biz). Ahem: LMAOOOOOOOOOO. The Rockets have been so bad this year. I mean, they’re not going to be on lottery watch, but they have been wholly disappointing. They’re bad at defense, at rebounding, they have the 10th-worst point differential, they can’t stay completely healthy. They’re 3-7 in their last 10 games. This team has a championship hangover a year removed from NOT winning the championship.

And out of the kindness of my heart, I would never mention that the Carmelo Anthony signing crashed and burned in a way that everyone on planet Earth expected it to crash and burn except for GM Daryl Morey and the Rockets, who apparently saw no harm in bringing him aboard.

The Rockets are a mess. James Harden is again leading the league in scoring (30.0 points per game) and efficiently at that, but it feels like a lot of empty calories when your team can’t beat either noted tirefires Cleveland or Washington in two consecutive games. Houston is the more talented team, but nothing they’ve done this season makes me think that the Grizzlies can’t beat them.

Have a good week, Memphis.

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