Jevon Carter. Shelvin Mack. Justin Holiday. JaMychal Green. Marc Gasol.
Those five brave, conflicted souls started what appeared at times to be a basketball game on Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets. The Memphis Grizzlies were down seven - yes, that’s right - seven players that were potential rotation pieces when the season began, and Charlotte was relatively healthy (compared to Memphis, at least) and had beaten the Grizzlies in Memphis by double digits nine days ago.
Gasol was close to a non-factor - eight points in 27 minutes. Mike Conley was out due to “injury”. And yet, not only did the Grizzlies compete, they were up by multiple possessions with five minutes left to play in the game. Yes, Charlotte closed the game on an 17-3 run to put Memphis away, but the Grizzlies with Joakim Noah, Bruno Caboclo, Ivan Rabb, and Julian Washburn as their bench almost won an NBA basketball game and held a 29-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Charlotte should be ashamed.
Here are some quick takeaways from this random act of successful basketballing.
- Seriously, Ivan Rabb needs to keep playing. Multiple times, Rabb has been given minutes when the roster is thin. And multiple times, Ivan has taken advantage of them. Rabb led the bench unit in scoring and did so in an efficient manner, while also playing solid individual defense at times and showing the ability to rebound at a high rate. JaMychal Green shouldn’t be a Grizzly this time next week after a trade for a 2nd round pick or two - Ivan Rabb should see lots more minutes on a consistent basis. It is his time, and his 15 points and five rebounds reflect that once again.
- Bruno Caboclo is coming down to earth a bit. 1-7 from the field, but he made every free throw he took and was a team best +8 on the evening. Caboclo is going to have duds like this - he isn’t “two years away from being two years away” for nothing. But Bruno, like Rabb, fits the profile of the type of player that should be getting minutes in a theoretical post-Marc and Mike world. Figure out if the guy can play or not - he has the physical tools worth the time investment.
- Shelvin Mack had 19 points and 9 assists. I know. I am just as confused as you. But hey, perhaps Shelvin can be a fitting tank commander in the event the season takes that type of turn over the next few days. Joakim Noah (10 points, 11 rebounds) is a fitting co-pilot of the S.S. Grizzlies Tank. Honorable mention to Mr. Two 2nd Rounders himself Holiday, who scored 15 points and appears to be getting far more comfortable in Memphis, just in time to either be traded or sink with the season’s ship.