The Memphis Grizzlies had a solid offensive performance last night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, posting 114 points and shooting over 50% from both the field overall and from beyond the arc. That’s the good news. The bad news is the Thunder had 121 points, attempted and made over double the free throws that Memphis did (24-35 for OKC, 12-15 for Memphis), and also made more threes (17 to 14).
This all added up to yet another loss for the Grizzlies, their seventh in a row and ninth in their last ten games. Memphis limps in to the All-Star Break tied with 5 other teams in wins at the bottom of the NBA, meaning the Grizzlies are very much alive in the race to secure the #1 spot in the NBA Lottery. This is what our fandom has come to.
Now to grades.
ANDREW HARRISON (28 points on 10-16 shooting, 5-5 from three, 3 assists, 2 rebounds in 33 minutes)- A
You simply cannot ask for too much more from Andrew Harrison. While his defense could have been a bit better (see the entire Memphis Grizzlies roster), he played the best offensive game of his NBA career. He will not shoot this well every night, but one of the pleasant things about this terrible season for Memphis is the development Harrison has shown. From fighting to survive roster cuts last summer to a likely piece of the young core of the team moving forward, once Harrison is in a stable reserve role (hopefully next season) he should be able to thrive.
TYREKE EVANS (23 points on 8-18 shooting, 4-7 from three, 9 rebounds, 7 assists in 31 minutes)- A
Tyreke also gets an A for his efforts last night, as this is the Evans we have come to know and love as a Grizzlies fan base this season. He was able to play a complete offensive game while also cleaning the glass, leading the Memphis Grizzlies in rebounding on this night. He, again, could have been better defensively, but he contributed in enough other ways to ace this test. He’s also outside of his ideal role, so grading on a curve is necessary to an extent as well.
He should be a sixth man...on a team that isn’t the Memphis Grizzlies. I need to use the All-Star Break to let that go.
DILLON BROOKS (14 points on 6-15 shooting, 2-6 from three, 5 rebounds, 3 assists in 39 minutes)- C+
Talk about playing outside of your ideal role.
Dillon Brooks, a 2nd round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, played the most minutes of any Grizzly on this night. He was asked to defend Paul George, a tall task for just about anyone much less a rookie learning how to play defense in the NBA. 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists is solid production from a player in the spot that Brooks is in. He shouldn’t be a starter on this team. He has to be.
He’s playing his tail off. He’s just being asked to do things he isn’t capable of doing.
- Marc Gasol (C) had 10 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds in this game. Solid numbers, and he also played Steven Adams essentially to a draw. But he is depended on for better production scoring wise and took less shots than Harrison, Evans, Brooks, and even Jarell Martin (7 makes on 12 attempts). That isn’t gonna cut it.
- Martin (B+) again did about all you can expect him to do. He is a reserve player who would get 12-14 minutes at most on a good team, and probably not that many. On this night he played 31 minutes and posted 17 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. Not bad for a guy folks thought would get waived five months ago.
- Chandler Parsons (D) came back last night and was an impressive -21 in 12 minutes of play. He clearly was rusty, unsure on defensive rotations and unable to close out on shooters. Here’s to hoping he can get back to his level of production that he had at the start of the season. That guy wasn’t a max contract player, but at least he was a good NBA player.
- Mario Chalmers (F) is the tank commander. 5 fouls in 16 minutes. Not even mad. That is amazing.
The overwhelmingly obvious thing that jumps out at you as you watch these games is that none of these players are in their ideal roles. Gasol or Evans as the best players on a team, Brooks or Harrison as starters, JaMychal Green as more than a role playing big, Martin as a sixth man...they’re all square pegs currently trying to fit in to round holes. Until that changes...this off-season and in to next year...these are the results you will see.
The Grizzlies return to the floor Friday, February 23rd against LeBron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers. Enjoy the break, Memphis.