Kyle Anderson: B+
SloMo finished the game with 7 points, 6 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 stocks. Combine that funky statline with his stellar defense against reigning Western Conference player of the month Tobias Harris, whom he held to 7 points on 2-13 shooting for his worst scoring game of the season. Perhaps a B+ is a bit skimpy for such a defensive showing against a team that was at the top of the West going into the game, but I think Anderson can do a better job finishing around the rim than he’s shown thus far. Though he missed it, I was also happy to see Anderson attempt a corner three against the Clippers.
Mike Conley: A-
Mike Conley, the crux of the season and postseason hopes, led all Grizzlies with 22 points, shooting 50 percent both from the field and from deep, dished 4 assists, pulled down 7 rebounds, and registered 2 blocks and 2 steals in 34 minutes. Three of those assists came in the fourth quarter. Captain Clutch also hit an insane buzzer-beating three-point floater from the logo to end the first half. While the Grizzlies’ defense flexed against the Clippers, Memphis wouldn’t have had a shot without Mike Conley’s offense. Consider this game another argument in support of Conley’s long overdue first All-Star selection.
Marc Gasol: C-
Marc Gasol remains the quarterback and fulcrum of the Grizzlies’ revamped and turbo-juiced defense. In that sense, he escaped earning an F for his WOOF-worthy shooting night. Marc did his best Mr. Freeze impression all night, shooting a frigid 7.7 percent from the field on 13 shots. Even so, Gasol finished the night with a 0 plus-minus while dishing 4 assists, grabbing 8 rebounds, and blocking a shot.
JaMychal Green: A-
JaMychal Green had an old fashioned double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds against Los Angeles. It’s impressive that he accumulated the second highest scoring total on the team without hitting a three, which would’ve vaulted him into A/A+ range. Can you believe this guy broke his jaw and had surgery on it a few weeks ago? The dude’s tough.
Shelvin Mack: C
Shelvin Mack had a wack game, and has fallen on hard times after a red hot start to the season. Through three quarters, Mack contributed zero points on 4 shots. He’s had a tough time probing defenses, setting up his teammates, and getting his own shot for a stretch of games now. Some call this a regression to his mean. Others credit opposing teams for finally scouting against Memphis Mack, with defenders doubling up on him in key moments to make life hell for the backup point guard. Thankfully, Mack hit crucial buckets down the stretch, scoring 7 points in the fourth quarter.
MarShon Brooks: B-
Where art thou, Wayne Selden? According to J.B. Bickerstaff: “What we’re trying to do is give those guys bulk minutes. It’s hard to play both [Brooks and Selden] with bulk minutes. What I wanted to do was give MarShon an opportunity to play some minutes, see if he can get comfortable with our wing rotations because Kyle [Anderson] and Garrett [Temple] play so many of those minutes.”
Wayne Selden had no minutes against the Clippers. MarShon Brooks had just under 16, and contributed 9 points while hitting 2-3 from beyond the arc.
Omri Casspi: C+
Omri “The Grittiest Grizzly” Casspi continues to impress relative to my expectations heading into this season. He scored 7 points on 3-4 shooting, and hit one of the three-point shots he attempted. He also pulled down 4 rebounds and swiped away one steal. Even when he doesn’t fill up the stat sheet, which is normal, Casspi’s energy, feistiness on the boards and at the rim, and ability to space the floor all contribute to the Grizzlies winning.
Jaren Jackson Jr.: B+
Jaren Jackson fouled out late in the fourth, in 21 minutes of play, and contributed 13 points, 6 rebounds, a block, a steal, and a three-point make against the Clippers. Bickerstaff made the right call plugging Jackson back into the game late, when he had 5 fouls and the Grizzlies led the Clippers 88-82. Jackson hit a corner three to extend the lead to 9 before earning his sixth foul. Smoke ‘em while you got ‘em, I always say. Furthermore, his defensive impact helped hold the third highest-scoring offense in the NBA to their lowest scoring total of the season.
Even when he isn’t blocking 7 shots and poking the ball out of opponents’ hands, his length, mobility, and instincts can take away entire pages form the opponent’s playbook.
Joakim Noah: WOOOO!!!
I’m not handing an official grade to Noah, but I will hand him a loud hoot and holler. He’s playing his first NBA minutes in a while, and enjoying every moment. Even in the pregame warmup lines, Noah’s energy was palpable. Surprisingly, he logged just under 13 minutes in his first game with the Grizzlies, fit like a charm on defense, and charmed FedExForum into instant endearment. We’re only a game into Noah-sanity, but it looks like the Grizzlies’ front office struck gold yet again with another high-IQ, defensive-minded player who can slide into the 5 spot to spell Marc Gasol without the defense missing a beat. He finished the game with 4 points, 3 rebounds, and a ferocious finger-gun-holsterin’ celebration after nailing an uncontested mid range jumper.
Noah was emotional, humble, and happy to be back in the NBA with the Grizzlies after the win. When asked if he expected 13 minutes, Noah said “I don’t expect anything anymore.”
Garrett Temple: C-
If it weren’t for Gasol’s spectacularly cold shooting night, Temple would’ve won the Mr. Freeze award. He pitched in just 4 points on 1-4 shooting, had 2 steals, and one made three in 19 minutes. However, Temple did hold Avery Bradley to 5 points on 25 percent shooting, so the defense was still there like Gasol.
Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff: A-
Marc Gasol played 32 minutes, and was able to rest on the bench without the defense falling apart. I give Noah and J.B. credit here, and Bickerstaff credit for getting Noah up-to-speed enough to contribute in the first game possible. Bickerstaff also managed to wade through difficult rotation decisions, exacerbated by Shelvin Mack’s woes and having to pick and choose between Brooks and Selden due Dillon Brooks’ injury. The Clippers were at the top of the West before dropping the game in Memphis. Give the man some props.