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Grit and Grind has returned to Memphis

Welcome home!

2018 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The families of the players came into the lobby of FedExForum.

The players and coaches followed them along with a huge applause from the crowd gathered in the grand lobby, a mix of media members, season ticket holders, front office execs, and employees of the franchise.

Pete Pranica introduced the key players and welcomed everyone to the press conference. Chris Wallace introduced the families of the newest players.

Chris Wallace and JB Bickerstaff both made opening statements and immediately there was a clear theme. Wallace said “there is a similarity between both players, both Jaren and Jevon are the premier defensive players in the draft at their position” and Bickerstaff added “this team has great tradition, great history and both these players fit that mold, there is the grit and there is the grind. That’s who we are, that’s who we’ll be moving forward.”

So thats it, there is a new identity for the Memphis Grizzlies, its called ‘Grit and Grind.’

A year ago, the Grizzlies introduced a different head coach and they said they were going to change the culture, move to a more analytical approach with lineups and the game of basketball in the NBA. Here we are one year later and the Grizzlies are doubling down on the idea of the Grit and Grind culture. The players mentioned it, the coach said it, Chris Wallace made a point to talk about it, there was a clear message today at the press conference. They were going back to what they had done for so long, for better or worse, and they proved that by drafting two players who are great at defense but dont score the basketball as proficient as most players in this modern NBA.

2018 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

When asked about this idea of going back to grit and grind, Bickerstaff said “Why try to copycat and be like everybody else?”, “Why cant we be different, why cant we be unique? Why cant we be so good at what we do, that teams have a hard time when they come see us?” Everyone wants to be Golden State or Houston, but the Grizzlies want to leave their mark in their own way, they want to do something different. So the Grizzlies have a direction, they drafted players they think fits that mold, and they have a coach and a front office who are on the same page.

Chris Wallace said that Jaren Jackson Jr was the guy that they had at the top of their board from the start and the Grizzlies got the guy that they wanted at the top of the draft. He was impressed with his work ethic, his defensive footwork, and his ability to defend at an elite level.

Jaren Jackson Jr and Jevon Carter fit this mold, they are both defensive minded players. Jackson might be one of the best players from this draft but he is a project, it will take time for him to develop. Jackson comes from a basketball family. His mother works for the NBA Players Association and his father played 13 years in the NBA as well as winning a NBA National Championship. The pedigree is there. He should know what it takes to make it in this league , he should understand that it takes a lot of work to be good in the NBA.

Jevon Carter was a scorer when he was younger and always found a way to get to the basket. Once Carter got to college he had to find a way to stay on the floor and get minutes, for him that was excelling on defense. The better defender he became, the more minutes came his way at West Virginia.

These young players will have to enjoy their last weekend to themselves, because soon it will be time to get to work. Coach Bickerstaff said that he has already given these two players homework to start with, and that Thursday of next week will be their first day. After that it will be off to NBA Summer League, where they will face off with other potential NBA talent for the first time.

Grit and Grind has returned to Memphis. The Grizzlies have doubled down on this playing style for better or worse with two draft picks who are both primary defenders. In an NBA where teams score 110 on a regular basis the Grizzlies are going to rely on a defense that will try and hold teams to 105. The only question remains, will they have enough playmakers to score 106?