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Week-side Help: Oh yeah I forgot we’re bad (Week 2)

Recapping a week where the harsh realities of a rebuilding team were on full display

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Week 2 Results

Memphis Grizzlies 91 (1-3) @ Los Angeles Lakers 120 Recap | Box Score

Phoenix Suns 114 @ Memphis Grizzlies 105 (1-4) Recap | Box Score

Week 2 Storylines

-Memphis went winless in their second week of the season.

-F/C Jaren Jackson Jr and G Grayson Allen suffered injuries against the Phoenix Suns and did not return to play. Memphis has yet to update their statuses as of this writing.

Required Reading

-GBB’s Parker Fleming on giving Taylor Jenkins time to grow into his role, just like the young prospects on this team.

-GBB’s Molly Morrison on the incredible moment and night that remains Memphis’ sole win of the season thus far.

Week 2 Theme: We’re bad, folks

The long-term future and outlook of this team is as bright as ever. I’m not sure if there’s any 6-game stretch that could seriously alter the perceptions of this team’s long-term future. However, the short-term is going to be messy and tenuous. After Saturday’s loss, Memphis fell to 29th in net rating (29th off./22nd def.), 29th in eFG%, and 29th% in 3P%. A whole bunch of stink.

Memphis rebounds relatively well and play at one of the fastest paces in the league, a clear reversal from past Memphis offenses. It’s led to some exciting moments from the likes of Ja Morant, but it hasn’t led to much success, though. He’s in the 44th percentile in transition efficiency, meaning as exciting as he’s been speeding down the court, he’s been rather mediocre scoring this way.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Jaren Jackson Jr, still a great, young prospect, also can’t shake his fouling habit. They complaints are going to sound repetitive until it gets fixed, but he still hasn’t played a full NBA season from beginning-to-end of even if you total all of the games in his career thus far (63). He deserves the time to grow into a better defender, but for 19-20 it’s going to be a problem.

This season is going to be tough to watch. This past week was an indicator of that. It doesn’t really matter, this team has no intention of contending in the next couple of years and is instead opting for the slow burn. But fans should temper their expectations.

Week 2 Notes

-Grizzlies outscored the Lakers 15-2 in the first 2:44 of their contest. It was awesome. Couldn’t get enough of it.

-The Lakers outscored the Grizzlies 118-76 in the final 45:16.

-I guess this is where I talk about how that happened: Anthony Davis. The Grizzlies lack depth on the frontlines. This got exposed Tuesday night with the talented 7-footer and it may get exposed throughout the season. In case you weren’t aware, or didn’t view the lovely box scores I link to in the results section he torched us for 40 points and grabbed 20 boards in just 30 minutes of play.

-Jaren and Jonas are great. I love them on this team and think they’re a great fit together. But as of now, it’s hard to pencil them in for any solid time together in any game. Jonas for his recovery from injury and Jaren for his persistent fouling issue, which showed up against the Lakers.

-He had 5 fouls and played just 18 minutes as a result. Early foul trouble is an incredibly easy way for a young player to get thrown off their rhythm and mess up the rotations for the rest of the team. And again, not every foul is his fault. But the ones that are his fault come from the same mistakes over and over; he’s too quick to reach when he’s defending smaller defenders, and he’s too quick to leave his feet at the rim.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

-So, apparently the Suns are good now? And they’re second in net rating? I would like to unsubscribe to this.

-Seriously, though. A lot of the problems on display against the Lakers reared their head against the Suns as well. Jaren and Jonas, for all of their talents, have not shown to handle the responsibilities of interior defense thus far.

-Without Deandre Ayton, Memphis may have thought the Suns wouldn’t present such an interior threat. But Aron Baynes, who even stretched the floor going 4-7 on three-pointers, dominated Memphis’ bigs. Frank Kaminsky coming in off the bench, dominated in stretches.

-Brandon Clarke is, like, really good. I worry that Memphis relying on a rookie as its best player off the bench is a bad sign, but Clarke has not been playing like a regular rookie. He’s been extremely efficient on the offensive end of the court and he’s been as good as advertised defensively.

-Hoo boy, Grayson Allen is BAD. One wonders how long Taylor Jenkins can rely on him to be the 2-guard off of the bench to play with Tyus Jones and at times, Ja Morant. We haven’t seen much of De’Anthony Melton this season, and the thought of him and Morant next to each other in the backcourt is rather intriguing.

-That being said, I had hoped he would have been benched for play rather than injury. Get better, soon.

Week 3 Schedule Power Rankings

Houston Rockets @ Memphis Grizzlies Mon 11/4 7:00 PM CT

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Memphis Grizzlies Weds 11/6 7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Orlando Magic Fri. 11/8 6:00 PM CT

Dallas Mavericks @ Memphis Grizzlies Sat 11/9 7:00 PM CT

We’re ranking these games by how likely it is Memphis will get a win. Let’s face it, the long-term stuff is fun, but it’d be nice to have some proof of concept outside of a 1-pt win against a struggling Brooklyn team. A win, ANY win, would suffice in that manner.

From least to most likely for the Grizzlies to snag a victory:

4. Houston Rockets

The Ja Morant-Russell Westbrook comparison will be the storyline going into this game, but the Ja Morant-Russell Westbrook matchup seems like it could get one-sided in the wrong direction real quick. And if it isn’t Russ, then James Harden there lurking on a mismatch waiting to make mincemeat out of him. Memphis could eke it out by dominating rebounds and actually making their threes, but it will be quite the tall task. Houston is a bonafide title contender this year.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves have been pretty good this year! Feistiness aside, Karl-Anthony Towns has been a force this season. He’ll return from his two-game suspension already averaging 27.3 points-per-game on a staggering 68.2% true shooting percentage. In the admittedly small sample size of just four games, he’s shooting 53.2% on 8.5 three-pointers a night. That’s a laughably efficient line.

Much like Anthony Davis, I could see KAT taking over this game. Minnesota has a very good defense and can really highlight Memphis’ offensive shortcomings.

2. Dallas Mavericks

So long, Dirk. Hello, Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis has played his first game as a Dallas Maverick this season after being traded in February and he’s back to showing some of his All-Star potential. Luka Dončić, meanwhile, continues to grow as the absolute star he is. 26.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 8.4 assists, and 1.8 steals per-game for Luka as he leads the 5th-best offense in the NBA heading into their Sunday matchup against the Cavs.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizz have a decent chance to snag a win here. As good as the Dallas offense is, they rank 20th in defensive rating and could be a sieve to Memphis’ up-tempo style. There’s a decent chance of it happening, but it’s not exactly a guarantee with how inconsistent the Memphis offense has been at times.

1. Orlando Magic

Despite being a playoff team a year ago, the Orlando Magic are the worst of this bunch. At least this season. The (re?)emergence of Markelle Fultz as a potential NBA player has been fun to root for. I just hope he gets the time to develop into the player everyone thought he could before he was drafted.

As a team, Orlando might remind you of past (and recent) Memphis Grizzlies teams. They play the second slowest pace, boast the 6th-best defensive rating, and yet bring up the rear in offensive rating at 30th. Sound familiar? Memphis can take advantage of this. If they dictate the pace and it is played much faster than Steve Clifford’s Magic would like, they could put Orlando in unfamiliar waters. Then, it all comes down to just making your shots.

Have a good week, Memphis.

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