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5 Questions about the Rotation

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Answering a few questions about the rotation

Memphis Grizzlies v Indiana Pacers Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Being a couch coach is common for the everyday sports fan.

Why isn’t the coach running this play?

Why does the coach have this player in the game?

Why does the coach have this guy on the bench?

Why is this player playing so much?

You’ve also seen these couch coaches come out of the woodworks for Taylor Jenkins, with very little understanding that the Memphis Grizzlies coach is learning the ropes of the job.

I reached out to some Grizzlies fans to see their concerns or questions with the rotation and do my best to offer some insight or solutions to them.

1) How do you balance playing Jonas Valanciunas while also wanting to give Brandon Clarke the time that he keeps earning and deserves?

This is something of a conundrum. Despite the concerns about Valanciunas’ fit both offensively and defensively, he’s still producing numbers. He’s easily the team’s best rebounder, leading the team in rebounds per game (9), rebounds per 36 minutes (13.7), and total rebound percentage (20.4%). Meanwhile, Clarke’s fit within the system pops out, as he’s a small-ball 5 that can play a little 4, finish around the rim with high efficiency, and defend all over the court.

The best way to balance is to aim for equal playing time for these two, but also by riding with the better player that night. You could always play them at the 4 and 5 together, but then you’re sacrificing minutes there for Jaren Jackson Jr. and Kyle Anderson.

2) Why has De’Anthony Melton not seen more minutes?

I talked to Jenkins about this last week, and it still looks like they’re bringing him along slowly-

Reminder, he missed all of training camp and preseason with a back injury — an injury he also was cleared from quicker than anticipated.

Sooner rather than later, they’ll have to look at what they have with Melton, especially if Tyus’ poor shooting continues, or if Marko Guduric and Grayson Allen do nothing in particular to stand out or warrant a permanent rotation role. Melton was one of the league’s elite defenders by the metrics last season, and he also displayed some scoring chops in games against the Nuggets and with the Hustle.

3) Why haven’t we seen more of Ja Morant and Tyus Jones together?

I just don’t like how much size they give up when on the floor together. Ja Morant is one of the lightest players in the league at 175 pounds, and Tyus is 6’0”, so they’re sacrificing a ton of size there.

It’s definitely worth exploring, since they are the two best playmakers on the court. In addition, Tyus’ ability to run the offense gives Ja more opportunities to play off-ball and hunt for his shot.

4) Why does Jaren get pulled so quickly when he’s in foul trouble?

I think this question is just one of those unwritten rules in basketball, where you don’t play a guy in foul trouble early in the game.

When you leave a player with foul trouble in the game, he’s more hesitant and passive on defense, leading to easy buckets for the opposition. Besides, you’re being risky by possibly losing him at the end of the game, where you really need him. I wouldn’t look at it as a Jaren thing, rather than universal basketball code.

5) Do you think a starting lineup of Ja, Josh Jackson, Brandon Clarke, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Jonas Valanciunas would work?

This is a fun lineup! I wouldn’t mind this starting lineup, but it’s shaky. Josh Jackson has to prove that his hot G-League shooting isn’t a fluke. One of Brandon Clarke and Jonas Valanciunas have to be good volume 3-point shooters, as both are capable shooters but don’t shoot enough. There are no concerns here with Jaren or Ja, but you have to give them the spacing to operate, and I don’t know if you get that surrounding them with Josh Jackson, Brandon Clarke, and Jonas Valanciunas at the same time.

Have any other questions or concerns about the Grizzlies’ rotation? Comment below if you do.

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