Trust the process.
Former Philadelphia 76ers GM Sam Hinkie coined this term when he started a long-term rebuild. It’s become iconic, in a sense, as it’s a newfound philosophy for many people — like me — and it’s defined the Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons era.
It’s also a mantra that the Memphis Grizzlies fanbase and organization hasn’t necessarily followed — or hasn’t had to follow — in the past decade. Whether it’s with young talent — Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks aside — or with head coaches, stability hasn’t been the name of the game in Memphis. Since Mike Conley was picked, Darrell Arthur was the only draft pick to receive a contract with the Grizzlies once their rookie contract was up. The Grizzlies, despite playoff success, have fired four head coaches since 2013.
Now, the Grizzlies management is adamant about preparing for the long-run, and for the most part the fan base has bought in. Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, and Brandon Clarke are the type of players you want to wait on and watch their development.
Where the fans and management need to be patient is with Taylor Jenkins.
Taylor Jenkins has come into Memphis looking to revamp from the slow, ground-and-pound offense we are all familiar with into a pace-and-space offense. It’s a daunting task that coaches of the Grizzlies’ past have tried to do. However, due to slow starts and possible veteran resistance, these coaches retreated to the “grit ‘n’ grind” offense style.
With a franchise makeover, Jenkins has the construction and the support to fully implement this modern offense into the Grizzlies’ DNA.
In this small sample size, the vision is becoming clear. The Grizzlies are shattering their franchise record in pace. They’re letting it fly from deep! Whether or not it’s a good shot, of course, is totally up for debate.
But the ball is flying.
The offense is so spaced out, and it’s beautiful. There are four players around the perimeter at all times. Instead of placing a big on the low block, they operate with having one big linger around the high block — opening up opportunities for high screen-and-roll’s, dribble hand-off’s, or playmaking chances for the bigs. It’s weird to see, but it’s a better system for a dribble-drive offense, and it also opens the lanes if a perimeter player beats their defender off the dribble.
The rotations look fine at the moment. There are kinks that still need to be worked out — taking Jaren and Ja out for too long and the wing rotation and who there belongs, to name a few. It may take a bit to figure out, but there are some promise in his rotations. I do like where he has Kyle Anderson, as a 4 next to Brandon Clarke or Jaren Jackson Jr. He’s also trotted out the 4-5 tandem of Clarke and JJJ more as well.
Yes, there is promise, and there are flaws. Regardless, we need to trust the process with Taylor Jenkins.
There will be nights where the offense and the execution will look flawless. He’ll flash promise as one of the brightest young basketball minds in the league. He could define stability at a position that’s been unstable for this team for quite some time.
There will be nights where the execution and rotations look rough. He will get rooked in some games and get completely outclassed.
Luckily for the Memphis Grizzlies and their head coach, this season won’t be defined by wins and losses, but by development. Can Jaren Jackson Jr. work on his fouling to unleash his potential as an elite two-way wrecking ball? Does Ja Morant produce more nights like the Nets game on a consistent basis? Do Kyle Anderson and Brandon Clarke develop their perimeter games? Between Dillon Brooks, Grayson Allen, De’Anthony Melton, Marko Guduric, and Josh Jackson(?), who emerges as a potential complementary piece for Jaren-Ja-Clarke core?
We need to give that same energy to Taylor Jenkins as well.
Is there an improvement in his ATO plays? Does he figure out a rotation — not just in terms of who’s playing, but in dividing and distributing minutes? Like his coaching ascendent and others within the Mike Budenholzer branch, does he maximize the talents of a few fringe players on the team?
Those are all developments to pay attention to with Jenkins this season.
There needs to be patience with Taylor Jenkins. He has the tools to succeed in the NBA. He’s a brilliant mind with a modern approach to the game. Like Budenholzer and others in his coaching tree, he values the importance of team culture and chemistry. And, you can already see how that’s paying off in how a team with only 5 returning players has bonded with each other both on and off the court.
The Memphis Grizzlies need to avoid the past mistakes and focus on the long game with Taylor Jenkins, as he grows with this young team. His maturation and growth as a NBA head coach is going to be a process.
You just have to trust it.