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Week-side Help: Morant’s Absence (Week 6)

Ja takes carrying the team on his back too literally.

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Utah Jazz v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Brandon Dill/Getty Images

Week 6 Results

Memphis Grizzlies 114 (5-11) @ Indiana Pacers 126 Recap | Box Score

Los Angeles Clippers 121 @ Memphis Grizzlies 119 (5-12) Recap | Box Score

Utah Jazz 104 @ Memphis Grizzlies 94 (5-13) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 115 (6-13) @ Minnesota TImberwolves 107 Recap | Box Score

Week 6 Storylines

-Ja Morant injured his back in a fall against the Pacers on Monday. After playing against the Clippers and Jazz, he was ruled out “week-to-week” with back spasms.

-In the first game without Morant, Memphis beat the Timberwolves to win their only game in a 1-3 week.

Required Reading

-GBB’s Brandon Abraham’s “Hustle Report”, a weekly summary on the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ developmental affiliate who just so happen to be the best team in the G-League.

-GBB’s Jordan Peterson on what goes into a box score and if the Grizzlies’ performances match up with the numbers.

Week 6 Theme: Morant’s Absence

Taylor Jenkins has been vocal and adamant about making sure the rookies adjust to the 82-game season gradually. So when Ja Morant took a tumble off a drive and hurt his back against a cameraman in Indiana, it was surprising to see him finish the game. He finished the game and even started against Los Angeles and Utah.

As much as Ja as downplayed the injury’s severity after the Jazz game, it clearly affected him. He was questionable before the Clippers game Wednesday and was showing visible discomfort with his back against Utah. Then, the team announced Morant will be out on a week-to-week basis with back spasms. It’d be reckless of me to act like I know those made Morant’s injury worse. But the timing just runs counter to what the initial load management plan was for Morant. I hope a handful of losses in a row isn’t what changed the long-term course.

Utah Jazz v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Brandon Dill/Getty Images

Ja is incredible to watch and likely already a top-3 point guard in franchise history (Site Manager’s Note- WHEEEEEW that’s hot). Sample size talk is for the birds in this case; I’ve seen everything I need to know he will be a star if he remains healthy. But it did neither Memphis nor Morant any good to play him at all after the initial injury considering it was clearly a lingering problem and not just a one-night ordeal.

Memphis won their first game without him when the bench stepped up in a huge way. If 70% of that keeps up, Memphis will be fine. But here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for Morant.

Week 6 Notes

-The Clippers game was a whole lot of fun and a genuinely good performance for Memphis. In a two-point loss, you look for any sort of edge that could have given the game away. From the surface, a -5 turnover margin would do it. Still, Memphis should be encouraged that they played a superior team, even without Kawhi, so well.

-I really like Jonas Valančiūnas for what he is as a center. He was AWESOME against the Clippers. But he is a match-up problem on defense and it’s obvious against any big that can space the floor. Bojan Bogdanovic, an excellent free agent addition for the Jazz, took advantage of JV any chance he could.

Utah Jazz v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Brandon Dill/Getty Images

-This is why I would most like to see Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr play most of the frontcourt minutes. Those two have plenty of versatility and athleticism to capably defend the rim and the perimeter. Valančiūnas is good around the rim and against the larger centers, but Jenkins should better pick his spots using JV.

-The rotation could use some freshening up, although the Morant injury is not how I wanted to get there. Hopefully this is finally a chance to see what Memphis really has in Tyus Jones and De’Anthony Melton. In the Minnesota game, they both came up huge in the 2nd half.

-*Through gritted teeth* Grayson Allen had a good game against Minnesota. *Ungrits* Actually, the whole bench stepped up (not to discredit Allen). Solomon Hill and Guduric were fantastic.

-With some injuries, Memphis will surely change up the rotation. A (forced) shakeup did the team some good. Memphis didn’t even blow the second half!

Week 7 Schedule and Aesthetic Rankings

Indiana Pacers @ Memphis Grizzlies Mon 12/2 7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Chicago Bulls Weds 12/4 7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Utah Jazz Sat 12/7 9:00 PM CT

I can’t stop thinking about the BEAUTIFUL combination of the Jazz and Grizzlies’ throwbacks paired with the throwback Memphis court. I’m going to be chasing that high all year. The Heat’s 4th annual “Miami Vice” uniforms and court look gorgeous as always, but not many other franchises have the color scheme to complement it visually as the Jazz did for Memphis.

Let’s see what the best options are for this week and rank the potential for another stunning visual matchup.

3. vs. Pacers 12/2

Meh, meh, meh, meh, meh, meh. It’s fine, sure. Their standard uniforms are alright. Their City uniforms have a cool theme that gets squandered away. It’s uncreative and I feel nothing when I see the Pacers uniforms, putting them at the bottom of this list. It kinda matches with their style of play, which I loathe with a passion, but gets wins.

2. @ Bulls 12/4

The Bulls get extra credit for their lovely City Edition jerseys, but it’s not enough for #1. Their uniforms have remained virtually unchanged throughout the team’s history as have their logo. I’m not sure if anyone would say the Bulls’ standard uniforms are bad, but there is definitely room for improvement. Their court is also fine and unoffensive.

Middle of the road feels fitting for these Bulls’ aesthetics, but the City unis are really great.

1. @ Jazz 12/7

We could double down on the beautiful uniform matchup from last Friday PLUS Utah’s throwback court that rivals Memphis’ for best in the league.

Utah Jazz v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Brandon Dill/Getty Images

Also, the Jazz keep ending up at the top of these lists and I personally apologize for that. But they play the Grizzlies 3 times in 22 games. Blame Adam Silver, not me.

Have a good week, Memphis.

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