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Week-side Help: Injury Bug (Week 7)

How terrible injury luck has finally given everyone a chance to shine

Memphis Grizzlies v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Week 7 Results

Indiana Pacers 117 @ Memphis Grizzlies 104 (6-14) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 99 (6-15) @ Chicago Bulls 106 Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 112 (6-16) @ Utah Jazz 126 Recap | Box Score

Week 7 Storylines

-F Brandon Clarke was ruled out week-to-week with an oblique injury aggravated against the Timberwolves on Sunday.

-G Ja Morant is “probable” to make his return Monday @ Golden State.

-The NBA named Ja Morant Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the month of November. He averaged 19.0 PPG and 6.8 APG during the month.

Required Reading

GBB’s Nathan Chester on the opportunity that awaits the Grizzlies’ young rotation players as Memphis gets bit by the injury bug.

GBB’s Shawn Coleman on how Taylor Jenkins is surpassing expectations in his first year as a head coach, of a rebuilding team at that.

Week 7 Theme: Stepping Up

As mentioned in Nathan Chester’s article mentioned above, the swath of injuries facing the Grizzlies presents an incredible opportunity for the less-entrenched on the roster to carve out a permanent space for themselves in the rotation. Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke, both rookies with a significant amount of playing time, are currently out recovering from separate injuries. Kyle Anderson has missed time due to a heel injury. In the first week without all three, Solomon Hill, Bruno Caboclo, and De’Anthony Melton have played more often. All three in different stages of their careers, all three forcing themselves into the permanent lineup.

Memphis Grizzlies v Chicago Bulls Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Solomon Hill, a veteran on an expiring contract, has been a steady hand (and Memphis’ leader in on-off net rating). Bruno Caboclo has played far less minutes, but has been a huge help defending big men and even playing center at times. He’s only allowing 54.8% of shots within five feet of the rim, a great clip that close to the rim. De’Anthony Melton, a 2nd-year player out of USC, averaged 10 points-per-game (50% shooting), 5.7 rebounds-per-game, and 4.7 assists in three games off the bench this week. He’s proving to be the combo guard this team needs to complement Ja Morant.

We don’t know how long before Memphis is back to being fully healthy. Ja Morant’s even coming back, soon. But Hill, Caboclo, and Melton deserve to keep their place in the rotation when the roster is at full-strength. And there’s always a chance for a Grayson Allen to make his mark, too. This injury bug has put a spotlight on everyone who's stepped up.

Week 7 Notes

-Recent performances force me to remind everyone that the Grizzlies’ 1st-round pick is top-6 protected. If Memphis finishes the lottery outside the top-6, their pick goes to Boston.

-I am hesitant to take away any serious long-term analysis during this tough injury stretch. This won’t be what the team looks like when the team starts to seriously contend. This time, and most importantly this season, is figuring out who will be on the team when we do start to contend.

-Jaren Jackson Jr isn’t a complete player yet, but those flashes of superstardom have been occurring more often this year than last. They are sandwiched by those 6-20 shooting performances like what came against Chicago, but nights like he had against Utah is what’s so enamoring.

-Watch these plays against 2-time defending Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. Jaren beats him off the dribble and beats him with his back to the basket. I’m not saying Jaren > Rudy, but I’m not NOT saying it.

-An absolute disgrace the Grizzlies didn’t wear their Vancouver throwbacks on the beautiful Utah court.

Week 8 Schedule and Opponent Power Ranking

Memphis Grizzlies @ Golden State Warriors Mon 12/9 9:30 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Phoenix Suns Weds 12/11 8:00 PM CT

Milwaukee Bucks @ Memphis Grizzlies Fri 12/13 7:00 PM CT

Washington Wizards @ Memphis Grizzlies Sat 12/14 7:00 PM CT

We’ll be ranking these opponents based on their pure strength. Not just on how they match up against the Grizzlies, but the quality of the team and how they’ve performed, thus far.

4. @ Warriors Mon 12/9

Buddy, these Warriors stink. And they STILL whooped us the last time we played. I practically guaranteed a victory and the Grizzlies just said “no, thanks.”

Still, this is the worst team of the bunch, albeit some strong competition. 27th in net rating, 27th in offensive rating is a far cry from their glory days *checks notes* a year ago. They’ve had some of the worst injury luck imaginable and just don’t have the same depth they used to when they were competing for championships.

3. vs. Wizards Sat 12/14

The Wizards are bad. One look at their salary cap sheet can probably answer why. They’ve locked down Bradley Beal for the foreseeable future, which might be all that matters.

With most of their resources devoted to John Wall and Ian Mahinmi, it has been difficult to find good contributors on value contracts. And the contributors they do have (read: Isaiah Thomas) generally stick to the offensive side of the ball. Washington is 4th in offensive rating, but LAST defensively.

2. @ Suns Weds 12/11

So the Suns might actually be a playoff team. I was surprised when we discussed them last because, well, they’re the Suns. But Monty Williams has them improved in his first season as Phoenix’s coach.

Devin Booker is playing well enough to earn his first All-Star bid this year and an improved roster around him has led to the whole team succeeding, too. This is the first season the Suns have a positive net rating since the 2013-14 season.

1. vs. Bucks Fri 12/13

The Bucks continue to be an absolute machine. They’re #1 in net rating by a wide margin, #1 in defensive rating, and #1 in true shooting percentage. And they’ve got the reigning, defending MVP. Believe it or not, Giannis Antetokounmpo is getting better.

Los Angeles Clippers v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Giannis is averaging a career-high 30.8 ppg on 56.4% shooting, a career-high 13.1 rebounds-per-game, and has nearly doubled the amount of threes he takes a game while increasing his efficiency. While the Lakers get a lot of attention for being the new, shiny, team on the block, the Bucks have been not-so-quietly dominating opponents. They’re the best opponent this week and the best team in the league.

Have a good week, Memphis.

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