Lady Luckhas simply not been an ally of the Grizzlies are the beginning of the 2020-2021 NBA season. Already down two starters and plenty of frontcourt depth entering the season, the Grizzlies have now lost De’Anthony Melton, Ja Morant, and now Grayson Allen to injuries and ailments since Saturday. The timelines for each absence ranges from an extended period of time to remaining undefined.
To add insult to all the injuries, the immediate schedule after this unfortunate stretch of less than idea health contained the Celtics. With a very limited roster, the Grizzlies simply had no answer to at least somewhat contain one of the best young duos in the lead. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 58 points (42 from Brown) on 21-33 shooting from the field. Though the Grizzlies seemed to play better as they game progressed, they were clearly outmatched against Boston from the start. That is not meant as a negative in any way, just an unfortunate reality that be verified more than many might like over the next month or so of the season.
The Grizzlies, as a whole, certainly did not help their cause in the first half. However, as they game progressed, a few players did offer some positive results that hopefully will become more consistent to help the Grizzlies find a few victories in the near future.
Though Wednesday’s game was clearly not enjoyable, let’s hand out a few grades in an effort to keep a positive mind.
TEAM EFFICIENCY- F-
With so many negative occurrences outside of their control impacting the team, the Grizzlies must make the most of what they can control. Committing 22 turnovers that resulted in 36 points for a significantly more talented opponent simply eliminates any hope that Memphis has to win or even remain competitive. Yes, players are playing in new roles in new rotations with unfamiliar faces at times. However, the key is for each player to remain within their abilities and not try to force results.
The Grizzlies did the latter far too often Wednesday night, and it was a singificant boost for the Celtics to use to take a commanding lead early that they never relinquished.
The Grizzlies must take care of the basketball, as that is the only way they will get enough chances to utilize their playmaking to keep the offense somewhat consistent. Adding turnovers to a situation where there already will be more missed shots means more wasted possessions. The Grizzlies have very little room for error. As a result, they must focus on making better decisions and making ball security a priority.
Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Anderson- C +
Both Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Anderson deserve a “C+” grade for being consistent on offense, though their ways of establishing consistency come in different forms. For Valanciunas, 20 points and 11 rebounds marked the fourth time he earned a double-double for Memphis in four games. His consistent ability to make a significant impact in the paint and at the rim allows Memphis to have a reliable front court option they can feature at any time.
For Anderson, the consistency is in the ability to find some way to significantly contribute in any game. Before last night, it was his scoring and rebounding. In this contest, when it is needed now more than ever, his main contribution was as a playmaker with nine assists since his shot was not falling. Anderson’s ability to produce across the board means that if one area of his game is off one night, he can find another way to have positive value. The improvement in production from both veterans will certainly be a welcome and needed development for the fortunes of this team into the foreseeable future.
BRANDON CLARKE- D
It seems pretty obvious that Brandon Clarke is still working his way back into playing shape from a shortened preseason. However, even the simplest of things that Clarke showed he was so good at consistently doing last year seem to be a struggle now. After a rookie year defined by historic offensive efficiency, Clarke has seemed like a liability as a scoring option in every game besides against the Nets. The Grizzlies must figure out how to let Brandon Clarke simply be Brandon Clarke, because his clearly advantageous talent needs to be on full display as soon as possible.
JOHN KONCHAR, DESMOND BANE B+
As mentioned above, while it is very hard to give out an “A” grade to anyone, Konchar and Bane certainly presented the best cases. Bane contributed 16 points as well as his torrid shooting to start the season while Konchar also find multiple ways to add value with nine points, five assists, and a steal. Memphis has no choice but to rely on Konchar and Bane to help anchor their bench unit at this time, and both players have responded by continuing to look more comfortable and productive each time they are on the court.
GORGUI DIENG- B
On most nights, seeing Gorgui Dieng shoot 11 shots and five threes is likely less than ideal. However, an increased scoring effort from Dieng will likely be needed off the bench to give the Grizzlies a better chance at having some sort of offensive consistency. Dieng took advantage of his opportunities, and turned good looks at the rim into points. He also contributed six rebounds. As has been mentioned, everyone on the roster must be ready to contribute at any time. Though the Grizzlies were out of the game early. Dieng still produced in an expanded role.
Overall, while Memphis made plenty of mistakes, the were a few good instances that can be used as growth opportunities. In the likely scenario that this roster is forced to develop faster than anticipated for the Grizzlies to earn some victories, there will clearly be some growing pains. However, if the players simply progress forward with positivity and production, success will likely become easier to find in the near future.