For the rest of the month, GBB will be breaking down every Grizzlies player that logged double-digit game appearances for Memphis this season and what their games need moving forward. Welcome to the 2018-2019 Memphis Grizzlies Player Review series!
BY THE NUMBERS:
49 games played (13 starts), 14.7 mpg, 5.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.3 bpg, 54.7% shooting, 117 offensive rating, 109 defensive rating, 16.1 PER, .137 win shares per 48 minutes
SEASON IN REVIEW:
Ivan Rabb has had an interesting couple of years with the Memphis Grizzlies. The former second round pick has shown such great skill under the rim and a high basketball IQ, yet hasn’t found himself in the lineup very often. Unfortunately, he was drafted by a team with far too many big men, anchored by Marc Gasol not too long ago and now driven by Jaren Jackson Jr. and (probably) Jonas Valanciunas. In his two years with the franchise, Rabb has gotten familiar with the route between FedExForum and the Landers Center in Southaven.
Rabb’s minutes and usage almost tripled post-departure of Gasol. After the All-Star break Ivan was logging close to 20 minutes per game and averaging 7.4 points per game. February was Rabb’s best month of his career so far, he averaged 9.9 points on 22.1 minutes a game and shot 61% from the field. Those are pretty decent numbers for a guy with limited NBA exposure and shows what Rabb is capable of if given an extended opportunity. (For contrast, the month prior, Rabb averages 4.1 points on 8.3 minutes per game.)
Ivan Rabb’s best game of the season came within that golden February run. He put up 19 points and 11 rebounds on 8-10 shooting in 33 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He showed he could play with pace and compete defensively when called upon. Rabb never reached the 20 point mark, but showed consistency in the latter half of the season, putting up double figures frequently.
What is next?
Rabb had guaranteed money through this season with a team option to keep him for next year, and a restricted free agent the following year. If brought back for this upcoming season, he will likely have a consistent roster spot with the two-way contracts and G-League roster spots being more coveted by the front office for younger players. When Marc Gasol was still on the roster, it was tough to justify Rabb grabbing minutes, especially since the roster was big man heavy. That is not the case currently. Jaren Jackson Jr. is the only guarantee (contractually) to be on the roster next year. Jonas Valanciunas has a player option, so he decides whether he wants to come back or not.
This leaves the door open for Rabb to grab minutes if the Grizzlies see value in him. Unfortunately for Ivan, this team has never really given him the opportunity to shine. In the minutes he has gotten, he has played well, specifically on the offensive end. But former head coach JB Bickerstaff did not favor Rabb and limited his touches. With the change in coaching and management, perhaps a new perspective will be seen toward Rabb. He has played well enough to demand minutes, especially on a team friendly contract. I think he comes back next season and finally grabs significant playing time, get used to seeing him on the floor.
Stats provided by basketball-reference.com