The Memphis Grizzlies completed their preseason slate Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks, and found a way to blow a 19 point lead to lose the finale of their four games in the preseason, falling short of an undefeated record. That of course in meaningless - you don’t get extra regular season credit when it comes to victories in preseason play. But there was plenty to take away from the last week of basketball, good and bad (21 turnovers, that’d be bad), and despite Saturday night’s loss in the finale after the end of rotation players let the game slip away Grizzlies fans should be quite excited.
Focusing on the final Grizzlies/Hawks game until...literally next Saturday night - some quick takeaways.
Grayson Allen apparently reads the blog
Saturday morning, in our new Game Coverage article called Trending in Memphis, I essentaily said that Grayson Allen should no longer be in consideration to be the starting 2 guard for the Grizzlies entering the start of the NBA season for Memphis Wednesday night against the Spurs. Here’s an excerpt, in case you missed it-
...Allen, of the options currently realistically available, checks that box while also having logged minutes at the NBA level (unlike Desmond Bane) and showing the ability at times to not fade or limit the progress of the half court offense, even when his shot is off (unlike De’Anthony Melton). But in three games, Allen has looked lost even more than the rookie Bane. And Grayson has forced things at times on offense, limiting that progress mentioned a moment ago when his shot isn’t falling...
Well, the shot started falling on Saturday night.
Allen was a perfect 4-4 from the floor (3-3 from three) in 18 minutes of play against Atlanta. He looked much more comfortable and confident, launching shots in rhythm and taking players off the dribble to help with facilitation needs offensively as well. This is likely the impact the Grizzlies coaching staff sees as possible for Allen with the four other starters (Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas). Grayson is that floor spacer, that experienced scorer that provides hopefully a (better) perimeter version of what Anthony Tolliver was for the Grizzlies in the Bubble.
De’Anthony Melton (4-5 from beyond the arc) was also red hot, and looked the part of starter still. But clearly Head Coach Taylor Jenkins favors Allen...and Saturday night, Grayson made him look real smart for doing so.
Good Ja, even on an off night
This was easily the worst game of the preseason for Ja. His shot was off (3-9 overall, 1-4 from three) and he had five turnovers in what was an overall sloppy performance for much of the night for Memphis. But even in a slow showing, Morant showed some real skill in areas of focus. He still posted 8 assists, and of his 15 points 8 of them came at the charity stripe. He was aggressive attacking the rim, getting in to the paint and absorbing contact on his way to the free throw line.
He’s an amazing talent...but as he develops, adding levels and layers to his game will only become more important. The ability to get easy shot attempts from the free throw line, and still help others get their shot when you’re unable to convert your own, holds tremendous value when your team is counting on you to be so much.
Ja is young...and more importantly human. He won’t always be on. When that happens, he still needs to be able to impact winning. He did that in his 25-ish minutes in the preseason finale.
- Brandon Clarke is still finding his legs. Missing the two games against Minnesota didn’t help. But an underwhelming 1-4 offensive performance in about 20 minutes of play despite shooting 7-9 from the free throw line is a sign of Brandon searching for his touch and fit schematically. That will come - the team will surely practice Monday and Tuesday heading in to Wednesday’s opener. Good reps will come there.
- Maybe Dillon Brooks isn’t crazy. He says he wants to push to be an All-Defensive player and a candidate for the Most Improved Player in the NBA this year. He had another strong game against Atlanta (17 points on 13 shots, 5-8 from three) and while he didn’t rebound or rack up assists in his 20 minutes (1 and 1, respectively) he did show the ability to be the offensive force Memphis needs. Wednesday will be fascinating to watch play out.
The Memphis Grizzlies will open the 2020-2021 season at home in FedExForum against the San Antonio Spurs. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 PM CT.