In any film session, you never want to completely crush the souls of players. This is true regardless of sport, and regardless of level of participation - rarely is a performance as good as you think it is, and it is just as rare for a showing that makes you feel sick to your stomach immediately afterward actually warrant such an illicit response after watching the tape. “The eye in the sky does not lie”, so they say - and the product you put out there on the court can be dissected and disseminated in all sorts of ways by all sorts of observers.
But whenever you’re the one on the opposite end of the “constructive criticism” or praise, it is hard to keep that perspective. Hopefully the Memphis Grizzlies maintain their “edge” and focus in film study, just as they did a better job of on Sunday night in their 119-104 loss to the Houston Rockets. The final score doesn’t show it, but this was a much better performance than the Grizzlies had against the 76ers. And the numbers paint an imperfect picture of what went well - and didn’t work - for the Grizzlies on this night.
You’ll just have to trust these eyes if you missed the action. Good luck!
To the grades.
Dillon Brooks: 11 points (2-12 shooting overall, 1-6 from three) in 27 minutes played. 5 rebounds, 3 assists, -9 +/-
Yes, Dillon Brooks’ shooting woes from all the way back in February have followed him to the Orlando bubble to this point. And yes, 2-12 is really bad and in no way helps the Grizzlies win basketball games. Memphis needs Brooks the scorer to have any chance to make the playoffs. He hasn’t been around consistently in six months (four of those not being his fault of course). That is cause for concern.
But Dillon does not receive a failing grade here. In fact, he is closer to receiving a mark that is slightly above “below average” than failing. Why? Because even with his offensive shortcomings, Brooks provided Memphis winning basketball plays in other areas. He drew the defensive assignment on James Harden on numerous occasions, helping to hold The Beard in check at times. Harden had a terrific game, but he made a lot of his gains when it wasn’t Dillon defending him. Brooks also had more assists and rebounds in this game than compared to his season average, so he was contributing in other areas.
His main job, unfortunately, is to score. Which he still isn’t doing well enough. But it isn’t for a lack of trying. Here’s to hoping that shooting stroke shows itself against Miami on Tuesday.
KYLE ANDERSON: 15 points (3 of 7 shooting, 0-3 from three) in 24 minutes of play. 4 rebounds, 0 assists, +6 +/-
Kyle Anderson once again made the most of his minutes, showing layers to his game that have been added by training and/or health with regard to his oft-forgotten shoulder issue. But as exciting as his performance against Philadelphia was, his Rockets showing falls a bit more flat. For one, Kyle shot 10 free throws in this scrimmage and converted 9 of them. Kyle per 36 minutes for his career averages 2.2 free throws according to basketball-reference.com, and if this were a game that “counted” 10 would be a career high. In fact, Kyle has only shot more than six free throws in an NBA game twice - in the 2017-2018 season. So that shooting both in terms of quantity and quality (a career 69.8% shooter from the charity stripe) is an outlier.
Beyond that? Zero assists in 24 minutes played should catch your attention. Kyle is needed to facilitate offense - to help those around him get shots. Of course all the great passes in the world can’t become assists without made buckets, but the fact remains that Anderson’s greatest gift for the Grizzlies is to create opportunities for the Dillons and Jas of the world. Kyle also only recorded 4 rebounds and, while he did block 3 shots, he did not record a steal.
It adds up to a mixed bag. You can’t judge Kyle for making zero threes because that’s not his job. But offensive facilitation is - and that was lacking in this one.
- Ja Morant almost had a double-double...but...he made some bone-headed plays last in the 4th quarter as things started to get out of hand. Morant had a massive third quarter, but things tailed off a bit after that. Composure and consistency are huge for a young team - he and his cornerstone counterpart Jaren Jackson Jr. (3 for 10 shooting, fouled out) lost theirs in spots. That’s to be expected somewhat - better now than against Portland on Friday. GRADE- B
- Grayson Allen returned...and...it wasn’t great. He had a solid euro-step move that he finished nicely at the rim on, and he also made a nice early dish to Brandon Clarke. But beyond that, Allen looked out of place and out of touch with his shot. He may well have a future in Memphis - but it may not be in the bubble. GRADE- D-
- Speaking of Brandon Clarke...he was the best player for Memphis in this game. 16 points on 13 shots, 8 rebounds in 26 minutes of action, and a consistent force for steadying the Memphis roster when things got out of hand. His individual +/- (-14) takes a hit because he was on the floor when Ben McLemore was lighting the Grizzlies up like a Christmas tree (26 points, 6 made threes!!!). That wasn’t Brandon’s fault. He, much like Jonas Valanciunas, is in mid-season form. GRADE- A-
The Grizzlies wrap up their scrimmage slate on Tuesday afternoon with a matinee showdown against the Miami Heat. The game will tip-off at 1 PM CT.