The Grizzlies have officially entered the second half of the NBA regular season. If the second half mirrored the first half identically, the Grizzlies would end the season with 38 wins — by all preseason measures, that is a performance that exceeds expectations. Let’s dive into five questions to consider as the second-half of the season gets underway.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Is this current Grizzlies’ caliber of play sustainable?
Sure it is. It may not pan out that way, because NBA fans know slumps and injuries happen. Barring injuries, there is no identifiable reason why the Grizzlies cannot continue to win and do so in style. It feels a lot like the Grizzlies are a snowball rolling down a mountain right now. All this momentum only serves to fuel a young squad who can take even a small confidence boost and yield big results.
Which bench player could be utilized more in the second half of the season?
Despite what I have written about Kyle Anderson, De’Anthony Melton has been a breath of fresh air. The Grizzlies have had guards in the past that make you cringe to see them come into the game. Melton has averaged around 17-minutes in his 30 games played, averaging 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.2 steals. Grizzlies fans should not underestimate what a relief it is to have consistent, reliable back-up guard/wing.
What is the biggest risk facing the Grizzlies in the next 41-games?
Although competitive athletes are always trying to collect a win in every game, some teams and players are very mindful of when it is time to ramp it up for the playoff push. If teams were bringing their A-game before, they are bringing their A+ game after the All-Star Break. The Grizzlies certainly will be competitive with teams of similar talent, but may find that snagging those wins against teams like the Clippers and Rockets may not come as easily.
Who should receive more recognition as the season progresses?
Assuming the Grizzlies are able to continue to win and get highlights on ESPN, Taylor Jenkins should receive more recognition for what he has been able to empower this team to do. He seems very willing to pivot when the science experiment in the laboratory of the rebuild is going haywire. Somehow, in the middle of January, fans have forgotten this is a rebuild-year, and Jenkins deserves a lot of credit for that.
What should Grizzlies fans remember as the playoff hunt inches closer?
Sports fans tend to become like spoiled children very quickly when success comes unexpectedly. Rather than appreciate the reality of outperforming expectations by itself, fans tend to keep moving the goalpost of what a successful season looks like. Grizzlies fans, be careful not to absorb these middle-season wins as things to which you are now entitled. Continue to be impressed when each win is earned.
Certainly, marinate in the euphoria of hopefulness and optimism of what very well could be. But do not saddle these Grizzlies with expectations that threaten to diminish the power of a good season in a rebuild year with a necessity to be great. Embrace what ebbs and flows may come, and fans will always be poised for a pleasant surprise.