The Grizzlies wrapped up their 3 game stretch in Utah’s summer league with a 94-87 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Summer Grizzlies played well in the mini tournament and had quite a few standout performances heading into tonight’s tip off of the Las Vegas Summer League. (Note: the Grizzlies don’t play until Saturday).
The Grizzlies 2-1 performance in Utah gave fans glimmers of hope for the coming seasons. Sure, it was only 3 showings but here are a few overreactions from the solid 3 game stretch by the Grizzlies, plus a look ahead to the Vegas Tournament.
Wayne Selden Jr.: Still good at basketball (when healthy)
Wayne Selden broke out in a big way in the 2017 playoffs when he was tasked with guarding Kawhi Leonard after spending a month with the Grizzlies. Selden’s play in the playoffs, followed by a dominant summer league run, had fans feeling giddy about his potential going into last season. Unfortunately, a quad injury kept Selden out of the lineup essentially all season and he was never able to improve upon the potential he showed the prior season.
In just two games in Utah, Selden showed Grizzlies fans what he’s capable of. Averaging 23 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4 assists while shooting 48.3%/61.5%/76.9% showed off his offensive powers. Defensively, Selden didn’t have his best two game stretch, but showed the physical tools to be able to keep up with NBA players. Selden’s performance in Utah should make fans feel better about the Grizzlies wing rotation going into next season.
Kobi Simmons: Point guard of the future
Kobi Simmons continues to shine for the Grizzlies when given the opportunity. Simmons dominated the G-League with the Hustle, and finished his season strong with the Grizzlies. In Utah, Simmons continued to show his scoring ability averaging 17 points a game. Simmons can improve on his playmaking and setting up others to score but when it comes to getting buckets, Simmons was one of the best in Utah. Defensively, Simmons needs to get stronger so he doesn’t get pushed around as much, but for the first time in a long time the Grizzlies seem to have a point guard to groom for the post-Conley era. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Grizzlies convert Simmons’ two-way to a full NBA deal by the end of next season.
Jaren Jackson Jr.: Rookie of the Year
There were a lot of skeptics in Memphis when the Grizzlies selected Jaren Jackson Jr. with the 4th pick in the NBA Draft. JJJ wasn’t the sexy pick like Marvin Bagley or Luka Doncic presented, but he made sure to shut the critics up with his performance in Utah. JJJ averaged 15.7 points, 5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks, highlighted by his 29 point (8 made 3’s) in his summer league debut against Atlanta. JJJ struggled some in Utah, but he also showed that he could help contribute Day 1 for the Grizzlies, whereas most expected him to be a project player.
Deyonta Davis: Writing is on the wall
Deyonta Davis, going into his 3rd season in the NBA, still has not taken that next step to show he’s improved enough to warrant a roster spot on the Grizzlies. The Summer League style of play doesn’t help big men the way it does guards, but Davis is already getting outshined by JJJ, and arguably Ivan Rabb as well who is participating in his first summer league. Davis has the experience where he should be dominating the Summer League, but instead the only thing he has done well is rebound. Davis has shown a lack of discipline as well, averaging 4 fouls per game and just seems lost on the defensive end.
If Davis doesn’t step it up in Las Vegas, he could be cut before the season starts.
The Las Vegas Summer League kicks off tonight, but the Grizzlies don’t play until Saturday at 8:00 PM CT against the Detroit Pistons. The roster is pretty much the same as the Utah Summer League, with the addition of Dillon Brooks and former Memphis Tiger D.J. Stephens. Brooks missed the USL while playing for Canada as they attempt to qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Stephens missed the USL while helping lead Le Mans Sarthe Basket win a championship over in France.
The Grizzlies already know they have a solid contributor in Dillon Brooks, but it will be good to give him some run with Simmons, Selden, JJJ, Rabb and Davis so they can build some chemistry going into next season. Having been playing for Canada all summer, I’d be surprised if Brooks logs a ton of minutes in Vegas, but in the minutes he does play, it will be important to see how he meshes with the other young Grizzlies.
D.J. Stephens, arguably, should have made the Grizzlies squad a couple of years ago in 2016 before ultimately being cut in the preseason. The Grizzlies are giving Stephens another shot at making the team by signing him to the summer league squad. Stephens is known for his incredible athleticism and highlight dunks. Stephens has been a fan favorite in Memphis since his college days and Memphians will surely hope he’s able to stay in Memphis going into the 2018-2019 season with either the Grizzlies or Hustle, as the Hustle own Stephens G-League rights.
Summer League success doesn’t necessarily translate to regular season success, but if the Grizzlies can continue to improve upon their solid performance in Utah this week in Vegas, next season (and the future) might not be as bleak as most seem to think.