As a teacher and coach, when it comes to report cards or on the court performances, you begin to gain understanding of who each student is and how they will produce for you. There are the A students and star players, then the students that struggle to get by or the ones who give no effort in the classroom or on the court. As time wears on, your expectation of them adjusts to the average effort output overtime.
But then, that student or player outperforms your expectations. I had a student that for most of the semester did little to no work or when they tried, they wanted their hand held. My expectation for them was that they were just not going to try no matter what approach I took. Then, over the final two weeks before the break, they were doing all the work with full effort. The surprise was certainly pleasant.
Kyle Anderson has been on the top of many “To-Trade” Lists for Memphis media and fans alike. The narrative is that his “Slo-Mo” style of play just does not fit the system that Coach Jenkins wants to put in place. A major factor for that has been has lack of ability/willingness to shoot the three.
The expectations for Kyle had lowered for Grizz fans, which is evident by their overwhelming desire to trade him. It was understood that Kyle was going to start as a “necessary evil,” but the argument is now shifting. Not only should Kyle potentially pulled from theoretical trade blocks, but he should stay in the starting lineup even when Justise Winslow and Jaren Jackson Jr. return from injury.
It was a career night for Kyle as he used a career high in threes made (4) to help him score a career best 28 points. He doubled the most threes he had made and scored eight more points than he ever had in a game, just one game after setting a career mark in rebounds. Is it possible we are seeing the Kyle Anderson that was offered the deal he signed?
The simple fact is that without Kyle’s stellar night, Memphis would have lost to a Brooklyn team without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Spencer Dinwiddie - and on a night Caris LeVert was not himself.
There were two different Dillon Brooks in attendance on this night. Regulation Dillon Brooks was GREAT Dillon Brooks. At one point he was 8-13 shooting and was making the right passes — or reads. The foul trouble was still there, but the frustrating part about him has always been his shot selection and offensive IQ.
Even in a night, after Ja Morant goes down, when it would be acceptable for Brooks to hoist 20+ shots in an attempt to save his team, he didn’t. In an overtime game, he only had 19 shots. His % was still below 50% but that is because overtime DB was bad DB. Its as if the time between the end of the fourth and overtime begun, the devil on his shoulder won his ear and he felt it was all on him. But when you get a night from Kyle and even JV that you were getting, smart basketball still says play through them.
For the sake of the report card, let’s toss out OT DB as he did not cost them the game. His play in regulation, however, was a major key to the victory. He led the team in +/- while finishing second in scoring. He had 4 assists, 3 steals and 7 rebounds. Brooks, as he does most nights, played his ass off. The seven rebounds is not something to expect on a nightly basis, but that kind of effort on the glass coupled with more assists, can turn any DB hater.
Jonas Valanciunas: B-. He still does not seem quite where he and the team expects him to be.
Tyus Jones: D-. He’s quite frankly just been bad thus far this season. Third on the team in minutes, with the worst +/- and 33% shooting on 12 attempts just does not win games.
Brandon Clarke: C+. Would be higher if it were not for the five missed free throws. His shot mechanics on the mid range looked normal. He will come around.
The Grizzlies are going to need many guys to surpass the expectations fans and even the coaches have for them during the stretch they are missing both their young stars. Bad Dillon has to stay home and resurgent Kyle has to stay with them every night. Jonas has to be a 20-10 guy on a nightly basis while guys like Desmond Bane and Grayson Allen up their scoring. The team gets an A for the heart they showed to pull off a victory after an ugly injury to their leader.