Week 22 Results
Week 22 Storylines
-Holy mackerel the Grizzlies won a freakin’ game. It is their first win since January 29th.
-Tyreke Evans returned to action Thursday night against the Bulls and logged 25 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds.
-The Memphis Grizzlies signed G Briante Weber to a 10-day contract, first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Weber played the first six games of his career with the Grizzlies in the 2015-16 season.
-Required Reading: GBB’s Mac Trammell sees the brighter side of tanking and admires the loaded competition for the most ping pong balls come Draft Lottery night | GBB’s McCarty Maxwell reminds us all who the conductor is: Mike Conley, and why his absence this season was more crushing than we could have believed.
Week 22 Thoughts
-Wow, a win. I don’t remember what this feels like so give me some to adjust.
-Okay, thank you for waiting. The Grizzlies have been playing with genuine effort throughout this season. I’ve rarely, if ever, seen them play as if they don’t care about winning or losing. Finally, their efforts were rewarded with a win.
-About time, too. Losses are good for draft pick purposes, but it was exhausting at a certain point.
-Memphis played some decent defense, but the Nuggets offense was flat out awful. Jamal Murray won’t have too many shooting nights like Saturday (5-18, 1-8 from three). Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
-The Denver Nuggets are to Brock Lesnar as the Memphis Grizzlies are to The Undertaker. Mostly the dead part.
-I don’t like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by putting Jarell Martin at SF. But I do think he has potential at least at power forward. He came out firing against the Bulls and slowed down later in the game, but he has been producing as of late. He’s averaging 14.6 points per game on 48.4% shooting over his last 8 games. Finding out his potential will be fun to watch.
-Tyreke coming back made me remember what a decent offense is supposed to look like. The ball moves better, the offense plays at a faster pace, and we have a genuine one-on-one threat. Reke is in the 81st percentile scoring 1.01 points-per-possession in isolation. It’s not the best brand of basketball, but when your offense stinks, iso-players are helpful.
-Dillon Brooks had two good offensive nights in the two games Tyreke played. Coincidence? I say not.
-Actually, yes it is a coincidence. Credit should go to DB Hooper. Over his last 7 games, he’s scoring 20.0 points a night on .472/.439/.909 splits. That’s so good for an NBA player, let alone a rookie. And Tyreke wasn’t even around for 5 of those games. Brooks deserves his own spotlight at the moment. He’s also the only player to have played all 69 games for the Grizzlies. Nice.
-Dillon Brooks and Wayne Selden are the only wings on this team I need to see come back again. I’m high on both of their 3-and-D potential, but I’m also low on everyone else as a wing on this team. Jarell should be a PF, same with Chandler. McLemore is awful and Myke Henry is so pedestrian he’s the only one whose full name I used in this scenario. Brooks and Selden could be good rotation pieces and you still need those even if there isn’t a star SF to take their place in the lineup.
Official Permanent Lottery Watch of the Week
The Grizzlies win ONE game and lose their lottery spot. Of course.
Shoutout to the Suns, who immediately leapfrogged Memphis when the Grizz beat the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. Now, Memphis stands a full game back from Phoenix who’s on a nice little losing streak of their own, having lost 8 in a row.
The bottom half of the top-ten is separating a little from the top half, which is good for the Grizzlies’, ahem, prospects. Charlotte seems stuck at 10 for the rest of time, and New York and Chicago just haven’t fully cratered like many expected them to after losing Kristaps and, being the Bulls.
Memphis just can’t let bad wins like Saturday pile up. Before you know it, they’ll have won 5 of 7 and in 7th place. We were doing so well with that streak, but all good things must come to an end. Just gotta get back on the horse and show those teams who is REALLY the worst.
Prospect of the Week: PF Jaren Jackson Jr., Fr., Michigan State
I’m not entirely sold on the “elite” prospects of the draft besides Deandre Ayton. I think they all, including Ayton, have questions that need to be answered about their transition to the game, but Jaren Jackson Jr. might have the most potential. He’s become an incredibly intriguing prospect in this year’s draft full of big men.
He’s proven himself to be a world-class shot blocker as well as a great three-point shooter. He averages 5.7 blocks per 40 minutes(!) and shoots 39.6% on 5.1 attempts per 40 minutes. He has NBA size already, 6’10” (7’4” wingspan), 230 pounds, and he’ll have just turned 19 by the time the 2018-19 season begins. JJJ didn’t have the allure of Marvin Bagley III and Deandre Ayton going into the season, but he’s played himself to the top of the draft board. He has unicorn tendencies and tremendous instincts.
If Memphis is insistent on keeping Marc Gasol until he retires, the 2018 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year would be a near-perfect fit next to him. He can be a rim protector and versatile offensive threat on the floor with Marc, whose abilities in both areas have decreased dramatically.
Jaren Jackson Jr. should be a top-five lock. He may have the highest ceiling of anyone in the draft and can be a game-changer immediately in the NBA.
Week 23 Schedule
Memphis Grizzlies @ Brooklyn Nets Mon. Mar 19th 7:30 PM ET/6:30 PM CT
Memphis Grizzlies @ Philadelphia 76ers Weds. Mar 21st 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT
Memphis Grizzlies @ Charlotte Hornets Thurs. Mar 22nd 7:00 PM/6:00 PM CT
Los Angeles Lakers @ Memphis Grizzlies Sat. Mar 24th 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT
A big week of games as Memphis takes an east coast road trip. This will be the last time Memphis plays any of these opponents, so make sure you tune in if you want to see Joel Embiid, Kemba Walker, Lonzo Ball, or, uh, Spencer Dinwiddie for the last time this season.
Since the Grizzlies got their one (1) win out of the way, expect a slew of losses. Yes, I know three of these teams are in the lottery, but must I remind you the Grizzlies recently had quite the losing streak and they’re just itchin’ to get back to losing.
The theme this week is modern basketball. All four teams are top-8 in pace and shoot a lot of threes, even if they don’t make a lot of them. The Nets try their hardest to play like the Warriors and Rockets, it might be scary to see once they have half the personnel those two teams do. The 76ers have a 6’10 point guard in Ben Simmons who has been a triple double machine as a rookie of the year candidate.
Meanwhile, the Lakers have been 20-11 since their 9 game losing streak snapped in early January. Brandon Ingram is a legit player in this league and has been showing out since that stretch. If Ben Simmons never figures out his shot, Ingram might surpass him in a few years. For now, Memphis needs to figure out how to guard his combination of size and playmaking.
For us, we need to figure out how to live in a world where the Grizzlies win games. Or at least “a” game. Baby steps, Memphis, baby steps.