Week 7 Results
Week 7 Storylines
-Memphis posts their first losing week of the season, going 1-2 against their Eastern Conference slate.
-The Joakim Noah-Memphis connection just made more progress, where Noah and the team reportedly came to verbal agreement on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal. (The Athletic/ Stadium’s Shams Charania)
Required Reading: GBB’s Nathan Chester on the genuine, real, tangible excitement that comes with having a certain potential superstar rookie on your team (Spoiler: it’s not Yuta Watanabe) | GBB’s McCarty Maxwell has noticed a trend from a year ago that has seeped into this season: bad, dumb losses
Week 7 Thoughts
-Two different results came from the same type of play this week. Down the stretch in crunch time, it became the Mike Conley show. Against Toronto, it didn’t work. Against Brooklyn, it did.
-I’ll live with that offensive strategy on occasion, but it’s becoming too much of a trend. Mike Conley is great, but you can see him absolutely gassed last week against the Knicks and this week against the Raptors. Not only is it taxing, it’s quite predictable for the opposing defense. Bickerstaff has to be better in this regard going forward, especially with how many close games Memphis is going to be in.
-By the way, Mike Conley isn’t exactly shooting lights out to CONSTANTLY warrant the ball for the entirety of late-game situations. After another so-so night from the field on Sunday, he’s shooting 41.8% from the field and 34.7% on three-pointers. Not bad, but not good enough to blindly trust the strategy.
-Okay, on to things that will make me happy. What else can I say about Jaren Jackson Jr? He’s shown incredible talent, skill, and athleticism in college and throughout his young NBA career. But now he’s having games with the production to match, just in case there are still any doubters to JJJ’s NBA viability. There shouldn’t be.
-The Nets game is the new Exhibit A to “Why Jaren Jackson Jr. is going to be incredible.” He scored 7 points in the final minute of game including a huge three-pointer to send the game into overtime. He had 36 points on 13-22 shooting for the game and somehow, only 2 of them came in either overtime period. Memphis might have their first superstar.
-I’m fine with not getting great production from Jaren all the time. He’s growing and it’s still his rookie year. But seeing that it’s possible is extremely encouraging.
-I definitely see the need for a backup center. But Joakim Noah? Who couldn’t get playing time on the Knicks? When he was healthy, which was rare, he wasn’t effective in even the limited role they pegged for him. Memphis doesn’t lose anything by adding Noah to the squad, it’s only for this season and for the minimum, but it’s hard to imagine there wasn’t any other available big man to play 10-12 minutes a night, hustle, and rebound a little bit. I guess we’ll see if I’m wrong soon, which is usually the case.
-Anyway, back to the games: why in the world does anyone guard Ben Simmons outside of the paint? Everyone in the arena knows he isn’t going to take, and make, a jump shot. And if he does you just live with it. Sorry, little frustrated. Enjoy this picture of the ideal amount of space to leave for Ben Simmons (who is still incredible as a basketball player and torched us regardless).
-Marc Gasol just giving Joel Embiid the blues for the second time this season was quite entertaining. Marc is a super smart defender, and when willing and able, is one of the best big man defenders in the league. Last time they played: 14 points on 4-15 shooting. Sunday night’s effort: 15 points on 4-13 shooting. He averages 27.5 points per game on 47% shooting. That’s a huge drop when he plays Memphis and Big Spain.
-The exact opposite was the case with MarShon Brooks. He gave up a lot of easy buckets on the defensive end and JJ Redick picked them up. Frankly, it’s hard for anyone to cover Redick curling around an Embiid screen for an open three. It’s almost automatic. But Brooks was on the wrong end of it quite a few times.
-Kyle Anderson starting the game against the 76ers and not taking his first shot until the 4th quarter is my favorite Kyle Anderson thing.
-Philadelphia was just the better team on Sunday night, and probably most other nights too now that they have Jimmy Butler. They got to the line more, shot better from the field, out-rebounded the Grizzlies, and had a comfortable lead for the majority of the game. Memphis is good enough defensively to not get blown out in this game, but Philly was in clear control of the game since the first quarter and didn’t let up. A clear loss for a team that could have definitely played better.
Week 8 Schedule and Preview
Los Angeles Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies Weds. Dec. 5th, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT
Memphis Grizzlies @ New Orleans Pelicans Fri. Dec. 7th, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT
Los Angeles Lakers @ Memphis Grizzlies, Sat. Dec. 8th, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT
Both Los Angeles teams and a confusing New Orleans team! Fun! Interesting! LeBron James!
Memphis gets a chance to redeem themselves at home against the Clippers. The last time they played, almost two weeks prior, Memphis had the game in the palm of their hands before letting it slip in overtime. That was a weird game for a number of reasons, chief among them the game being a noon local time in L.A. tipoff the day after Thanksgiving.
The Pelicans started the year on FIRE. They could have been the second seed if a few things went their way. But now, it looks like a giant countdown clock for Anthony Davis leaving to join the Lakers. They have quite a few players that can and will go off at any moment offensively; AD, Jrue Holiday, and Nikola Mirotic, who has been revitalized in New Orleans. They have the 24th-ranked defensive rating in the league and Memphis would be wise to take advantage, because not many teams can stop the Pelicans’ three-headed monster, who are all averaging AT LEAST 19 points a night and 47% shooting each.
Finally, the Lakers are in town. After a dramatic and tumultuous start to their season, they’ve come roaring back in the standings with some hot play (stop me if you heard that before about a team with LeBron James). LeBron is playing the fewest minutes per game of his career, but he’s still having a great season. They are 11-4 since their 2-5 start that put Luke Walton on the hot seat. Everything seems fine from the outside, but its the Lakers, and it’s LeBron. It just feels like they’re going to make a trade for another All-Star. I can’t imagine Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma on this team by the playoffs. It’s not like LeBron is getting younger.
As they face the Grizzlies though, they’re a decent matchup. They have a pretty good defense, which hovers around the top-10 in defensive rating and play at one of the fastest paces in the league compared to Memphis’ glacial pace. If Memphis can keep up the stops at the quicker pace, they can easily win.
But in the long-term, I want the Lakers to win it all this year so that this video can be brought back into the limelight where it belongs.
Have a good week, Memphis.