While the rest of NBA Twitter waited for the Kawhi Leonard Woj Bomb to drop, the summer league kicked off out in Salt Lake City and the Memphis Grizzlies took part in the festivities. Behind strong team defense and timely offense, the Grizzlies were able to knock off the host Utah Jazz 85-68.
This is Summer League basketball, so beware of stat watching and using that as your primary means of analysis. The numbers matter...but decision making, process, and execution matter more. Remember Josh Selby.
Never forget Josh Selby, former Summer League Co-MVP.
With that in mind, some quick thoughts.
IVAN RABB DOES NOT WANT TO BE OUT OF A JOB.
Ivan can probably do basic math. He surely sees the number crunch coming for the Grizzlies roster, and understands that having a partially guaranteed contract coming due in two weeks makes him very susceptible to being on the chopping block. He needs to show depth and growth in his game that, to be honest, has not consistently been on display in his first two years in Memphis. If he doesn’t display improvement, and the ability to play the center position with impact against “lesser” summer league competition, he may not be around much longer.
One game in, Rabb reads all that loud and clear.
He led the Grizzlies in plus/minus (again, summer league, so grain of salt) at +28, and really impacted the game on both ends of the floor. He positioned himself well defensively and was not taken advantage of consistently, and on the offensive end he was aggressive, attacking the rim and showing a willingness (and ability with a make!) to take the open three.
Could the night have gone better? Of course - two rebounds in almost 20 minutes of play do not breed confidence in what he can do against reserve NBA centers. But he at least, for one night, showed potential that may well be worth keeping around to work with. He’s not out of the woods yet...but this was a solid step forward.
THE TWO WAY CONTRACTS ARE IN GOOD HANDS
Speaking of imperfect performances. Yuta Watanabe made some poor decisions at times, but goodness did his shooting touch (7-12 from the field on the night) look impressive at times. He was also asked to do a LOT - in one game, he set screens, facilitated offense in the pick and roll, was the roll man in the pick and roll, showed the ability to both attack off the dribble and finish at the rim as well as hit the midrange and three point shot, and defended multiple players for the Jazz from bigs to wings.
Versatility! Watanabe is the exact type of player Taylor Jenkins talks about - a smart, multi-faceted competitor.
Yuta being back is huge for Memphis, but Grizzlies fans should also be excited about new two-way contract player John Konchar as well. His stat line isn’t sexy, but as stated above, the devil is in the details. The kid showed real potential.
Konchar is awesome and i really hope he gets a legit shot. Can do a bit of everything, great PNR read here. pic.twitter.com/KHanwXSoEE— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) July 2, 2019
John Konchar doing all of the little things, rebound, push and kick to Carter for the three. pic.twitter.com/5Ia4zyn0ky— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) July 2, 2019
A combo guard who can rebound, push pace, create for himself as well as others, and defend multiple positions.
The two two-way players for the Grizzlies (and Memphis Hustle) could eventually be in the mix for full roster spots down the road as the Memphis depth chart changes in the years ahead. Development is huge, and having the Hustle in Southaven is so valuable for a franchise like the Grizzlies.
- Poor shooting, but remember, who cares. Jevon Carter 2-7, Tyler Harvey 0-7, the previously swooned over Konchar 2-7. WOOF. But watch, they will bounce back and potentially dominate scoring the ball the next night. The way they’re getting their shots is what you should watch - Harvey and Konchar should be fine. Carter...needs a better night against the Spurs, but he should be fine as well.
- Some nice scoring performances...but again, who cares. No disrespect to Julian Washburn, but his 20 points isn’t as impactful as the play and fit of younger players that figure more in to the Grizzlies plans. Washburn is looking for his next two-way or training camp invite, which he should get...it just probably won’t be in Memphis.
- Bigs looking good. Beyond Rabb, Ben Lawson (6 rebounds, solid rim protection) and Simi Shittu (2 steals, fluid movement) looked solid at times. Both players bring very different skills to the table, but they both showed signs of productivity that should be built upon.
The summer Grizzlies are back in action Tuesday night against the summer San Antonio Spurs. The game tips off at 6 PM CT.