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Memphis Grizzlies win Las Vegas Summer League championship


Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies the the undisputed champions* of the world**

*It is fairly disputed due to multiple players not playing throughout the tournament, but who cares, they won.

**The NBA Las Vegas Summer League, but two national teams participated, so yes, the world.

After letting go of a 17 point lead that the gutsy Minnesota Timberwolves fought back to erase, Memphis and their Summer League MVP Brandon Clarke found a way to pull out the win and put an exclamation mark on what has been an extremely successful two weeks for the Grizzlies that started in the Salt Lake City Summer League and ended in Vegas with a title.

Here are some quick takeaways from the 95-92 win.

Memphis is going to be fun to watch

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Led by Grizzlies new head coach Taylor Jenkins, the Memphis summer league squad gave us all a bit of a preview of what to expect when the season starts. The team attacked the rim hard with a variety of rolls to the paint that ended in multiple alley-oop opportunities. They launched threes and were actually relatively successful from beyond the arc throughout the last two weeks, including a red hot start to the game at 5-7 from three. They used their length on the defensive end to their advantage, switching on pick and roll opportunities for their opponents and defending the rim through explosive athleticism and the verticality rule (which apparently Clarke already understands very well).

It is just a glimpse, and of course a majority of the guys who played in summer league will not actually be on the main roster. The Grizzlies also will be a Lottery team, and therefore not very good. But the start of installation of schemes happened in Utah and Nevada the last two weeks, and from what has been shown so far Grizzlies fans have reason to be encouraged long-term.

Brandon Clarke is very good

Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Clarke was named the MVP of not just the Summer League in Vegas, but of the championship game as well. Brandon is the first player in the history of the Vegas Summer League to accomplish that feat. This is, of course, further evidence that he is very, very good. But awards aren’t the only way to see it - your eyes tell you pretty clearly as well.

And he isn’t just good defensively...which, yes, he’s very good defensively.

He can pass.

He can shoot the three.

He is (small sample size alert) more advanced offensively than many gave him credit for coming in to the 2019 NBA Draft, which is a major reason why he fell to the Grizzlies at #21 overall. But considering the fact he has only officially been a member of the Memphis Grizzlies for nine days, the Vegas Summer League MVP has been a revelation. It isn’t just his athleticism and developing skill set - he is a fighter, a competitor who understands the mental aspect of the game.

15 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks in the title game. That’s what you want to see from a player you hope to be a part of your core for years to come.

Quick Hits

  • The Hustle repped well. Dusty Hannahs hit big threes off the bench and led the Grizzlies reserves in scoring at 15 points. Tyler Harvey showed a variety of offensive skills and was aggressive on that end throughout the summer league session. Selfishly I hope they both return to the Hustle, because they can be key cogs in the Memphis G-League roster and help build that organization up. Unselfishly? Here’s to wishing they get a chance to continue to chase their NBA dreams.
  • Grayson Allen did...not rep himself as well until tonight. He scored well from the field (6-13) in this game and got to the charity stripe (5-5 from the line). He led Memphis in scoring (17 points) and was aggressive on a consistent basis. He also made the key final defensive deflection to clinch the game for the Grizzlies. Memphis needs Allen to contribute because he is (at least in theory) a well-rounded offensive player going back to his days at Duke. Those skills haven’t translated yet in the NBA, but Jenkins and his staff need to get as much out of Grayson as long as he can stay on the court.
  • Ivan Rabb is a question. Bruno Caboclo, not so much. Two players with non-guaranteed deals, but Caboclo brings more versatility to the table that the Grizzlies front office is looking for than Rabb does. Bruno can shoot the three, play at least two and maybe three positions on the floor, and his length and foot speed allow for him to switch and protect the rim. Rabb is too slow to be a 4 in certain matchups, too small to be a 5 in certain matchups, and looked lost at times on both ends. If it comes down to Bruno vs. Rabb, Caboclo likely will win a roster spot before Ivan. Memphis has until the end of training camp to make a call.

Congratulations, Summer Grizzlies. You were already winners coming in to the night, but now you are Vegas champions.

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