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Week-side Help: Throwbacks make it all better

The best throwback uniforms in the league ease the pain of a winless week.

Los Angeles Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Week 5 Results

Golden State Warriors 114 @ Memphis Grizzlies 95 (5-9) Recap | Box Score

Los Angeles Lakers 109 @ Memphis Grizzlies 110 (5-10) Recap | Box Score

Week 5 Storylines

-Memphis debuted their throwback uniforms and accompanying court Saturday night against the Lakers to celebrate their 25th season.

-Aesthetic wins don’t translate to official wins as the Grizzlies go winless on the week.

Required Reading

-GBB’s Shawn Coleman on the current issues plaguing the Grizzlies and how it can be addressed going forward.

-GBB’s Parker Fleming on the need for more patience and less hand-wringing as it relates to Jaren Jackson Jr.

Week 5 Theme: Cold Spells

We have prepared for and expected inconsistency from this Memphis team. But every poor offensive stretch can’t be explained away by youth and inexperience. There are actual on-court problems that lead to such stretches. Against Golden State, Memphis shot themselves in the foot with an 8-minute 47-second stretch to start the second quarter and never recovered. Against the Lakers, Memphis led for 75% of the game, had a 15-point lead, and still lost because they get stuck in the mud like the Grizzlies of yesteryear.

So why are the Grizzlies offensive struggles so stark at times? Memphis’ philosophy on offense is strong and well-intentioned. The easiest shot to make is a layup or dunk, so they use movement and great team passing to create opportunities at the rim when one of the athletic young guys can’t get there with sheer force.

Los Angeles Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Brandon Dill/Getty Images

But when those opportunities aren’t there, creativity is desperately needed. Memphis just do not have the shot-creators or the shot-makers to consistently make shots with any above-average degree of difficulty.

Memphis is 30th in offensive efficiency, 25th in three-point attempt rate, 28th in free-throw rate, and 26th in turnover rate. That’s the result of poor execution and some stubborn banging one’s head against the wall trying to get to the rim at any cost. At some point, Taylor Jenkins is going to have to adjust to compensate for the lack of a shooting threat by manufacturing catch-and-shoot opportunities on the perimeter. The players on this team are capable of hitting shots at a somewhat efficient clip. An increased volume would naturally lower that percentage, but it could make up for the pitfalls in a low free throw rate and high turnover rate. With a rebuilding team like Memphis, you need all the advantages you can get.

Week 5 Notes

-Pretty encouraging to see De’Anthony Melton get some playing time in a competitive game. I’m still a big fan of his defensive potential, but we need to see more of him on the court. This was a step in the right direction.

-I couldn’t have been more wrong predicting the Warriors game. I said Memphis should be an 11.5 point favorite. They, uh, did not cover.

-I mentioned it earlier, but I can’t stress enough how ugly the 2nd quarter of that game was for Memphis and how much of a killshot it was to their chances of winning. When this team crashes, they crash and BURN. Bad stretches will happen, but letting them last 8 minutes long is how you throw away a game.

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

-I was also wrong about the Lakers game, thinking it would be a more lop-sided win in favor of Los Angeles. Just shaking off the early season rust.

-If it weren’t for Memphis’ uncharacteristically great shooting night, it might actually have been more decisive a loss than the 1-point margin. 14/30 on three-pointers is scorching hot for this team.

-It would be pretty cool if it were sustainable! I’m not sure it is, though. Memphis has quite a few players that shoot decent percentages on three-pointers, but there are only three regular players (Jae Crowder, Dillon Brooks, and Jaren Jackson Jr) that take more than three attempts per-game.

-Hey! Look at these Ja Morant highlights!

-Going to talk about how cool the unis and court to wash out the bad taste of this week. They’re truly beautiful.

-The Vancouver throwbacks really make the regular white and navy blue sets boring and uninspired. If it were up to the Week-side Help, the throwback court would be permanent and the only uniforms would be the Beale Street Blue and the Vancouver kits.

Week 6 Schedule and Watchability Power Rankings

Memphis Grizzlies @ Indiana Pacers Mon 11/25 6:00 PM CT

Los Angeles Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies Weds 11/27 7:00 PM CT

Utah Jazz @ Memphis Grizzlies Fri 11/29 7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Minnesota Timberwolves Sun 12/1 2:30 PM CT

It’s only Week 5 and we’re in reruns. I know, I know, I’m sorry. But this is actually useful this week: Thanksgiving is Thursday and your time may be limited this week. We’re going to cut through the fat so you can watch the best of the best in a busy week for Memphis and for you.

If you have Thanksgiving plans, use these rankings to work around them. If you don’t, I love you and turkey doesn’t even slap. From least to most watchable:

4. vs. Clippers, Wed 11/27

They are a title contender with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on their roster. This would normally be an incredibly watchable game. But with Kawhi as the unofficial spokesman of Load Management and Paul George still getting back to 100% after shoulder surgery, there’s no telling who will actually play in this game.

This is the night before Thanksgiving. If PG and Kawhi play, it won’t be competitive. If one does, it won’t be competitive. If neither do, it’ll be an ugly matchup without the star power and it STILL might not be competitive. If there’s a game to miss this week to budget your time, its this one.

3. @ Pacers, Mon 11/25

The Pacers are actually good! Even without Victor Oladipo who is rehabbing his quad injury in the G-League at the moment. Malcolm Brogdon has been great in his first season in Indiana, Domantas Sabonis is just as excellent. I could definitely see Indiana as a strong threat for a top-four seed in the East if fully healthy.

The Pacers are good, but get docked a few watchability points for style of play. Nate McMillan gets wins, no matter how ugly they are. The Pacers are coincidentally 26th in pace, and 29th in three-point rate. If Indiana dictates the pace of this game, it could get ugly for Memphis in a snap.

2. @ Timberwolves, Sun 12/1

Is Andrew Wiggins good now? He’s averaging 25.2 points-per-game on a career-high 54.5% true shooting percentage. Granted, this is just a 13-game sample compared to the 400 games and over 14,000 minutes played before this hot stretch. Whether or not its sustainable, it’s worth the watch this Sunday. He and Karl-Anthony Towns are one of the most high-powered duos in the league this season.

This matchup should be pretty even and the Timberwolves have lost four of their last five. In a really tough week, this might be the best chance for Memphis to grab a win.

Utah Jazz v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

1. vs. Jazz, Fri 11/29

This is the best time of Thanksgiving weekend, to be honest. The holiday itself is behind you and with it the stress of plans and cooking. The game will be on Black Friday night so your shopping for the day should be done, too. And for those going back to work on Monday, you still have two days off before. Get your favorite beverage, get whatever leftovers you have, and enjoy the game.

Mike Conley returns again, too. Because it’s always best to see your loved ones around the holidays.

Have a good week, Memphis.

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