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Report Card: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks show out against Andre Iguodala and Miami Heat

Take that, Iggy!

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Memphis Grizzlies v Miami Heat Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Hey, we got the Andre Iguodala payback game!

After two scrimmages losses, the Memphis Grizzlies came into this afternoon locked in, obliterating Eastern Conference contender Miami Heat. From tip off, the Grizzlies’ shots were falling, the execution on both ends of the floor was there, and the offense was just smooth.

It was surely a welcoming sign, as there was some pessimism regarding this time after the two previous scrimmages — even though they haven’t played basketball in four months.

As is usually the case with a big win, this game was an easy one for grades. How did each player perform here?

Memphis Grizzlies v Miami Heat Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Ja Morant - 22 points, 12 assists, 1 turnover, 3 rebounds, 9-15 shooting (2-3 from 3), 28 minutes, +19 (A+)

Ja Morant pulled out the whole damn bag in Memphis’ final scrimmage. As he’s mentioned time and time again throughout the league’s return to play, he’s locked in.

The eventual Rookie of the Year showed why he’s quickly becoming one of the league’s best floor generals. He efficiently ran the offense by limiting his turnovers and by controlling the pace of the game. He demonstrated great poise in the half-court offense, an area of improvement Coach Taylor Jenkins mentioned after Sunday’s loss, while thriving in transition. In the process, he showed his three-level scoring potential, as a pull-up shooter, a half-court scorer, and a fastbreak delight.

This is Ja’s to lose. You saw why...again.

Memphis Grizzlies v Miami Heat Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Dillon Brooks: 23 points, 3 assists, 4 turnovers, 8-12 shooting (4-6 from 3), 22 minutes, -5 (B+)

Dillon Brooks Rediscovered this form from the majority of the 2019-20 season. In the previous scrimmages (and frankly in the closing 5-6 weeks before the shutdown) he forced his shot, and it didn’t lead to poor shot selection.

However, in this contest he found his shot within the offense better, connecting on more catch-and-shoot opportunities than previous games. Like most streaky shooters, he had a night where the ball’s going to find its way into the hoop. And when that happens, the Grizzlies typically come out on top.

Despite the offensive bounce-back, it wasn’t the most perfect game for Brooks. He picked up 4 fouls in 9 first-half minutes, while also making silly turnovers. But hey, if Dillon’s shot is falling, and he’s finding his rhythm within the flow of the offense, you’ll live with it.

Lesson learned: Don’t write off Dillon Brooks.

Other Starters

  • Jonas Valanciunas (A-) - Jonas Valanciunas is an guaranteed double-double each and every night. He came away with 15 points and 15 rebounds against a nice corp of big men, headlined by All-Star big man Bam Adebayo — who’s an excellent rebounder in his own right. Valanciunas showed once again why he’s a vital part to the Grizzlies’ system and why he remains one of the most underrated big men in the league.
  • Kyle Anderson (B) - Ok, so Kyle Anderson’s a 3-point threat now, which is a welcoming sign. The veteran swingman continued his offensive renaissance in scrimmage play, drilling 3 three’s. He was also a presence on the glass with 7 rebounds. If Anderson is going to continue taking and making multiple three’s a game, that’s a huge development for the Grizzlies’ rotation.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. (C-): The Grizzlies’ other underage cornerstone had another rough scrimmage outing, corralling 6 fouls in 19 minutes — his second disqualification of the bubble. In addition, his shooting rust continued to show, as he was 2-11 from the field and 2-7 from downtown. Though he did a good job of getting to the foul line, and he made plays on defense, they’re going to need Jackson to stay on the floor and make an impact if they want to succeed in the bubble...and he will.

Other Grades

  • Brandon Clarke (A): Brandon Clarke is so damn good at basketball. He just has a way to efficiently impact the game in a variety of areas. One intriguing way he did so was his playmaking, particularly through his lob pass to Ja Morant in the first half, and a touch pass to him in the second.
  • Tyus Jones (B): Jones wasn’t much of a playmaker in this one, but it was nice to see him get his shot and floater to fall.
  • Grayson Allen (B): After a poor return from injury against Houston, Allen bounced back to make an impact as an outside shooter and as a defender — including a big block on Kelly Olynyk. Has he surpassed Josh Jackson in the rotation?
  • De’Anthony Melton (A-): “Mr. Do Something” lived up to the moniker. He scored the ball well, even though his shot was off, and he was also a solid secondary playmaker. He also continued wreaking havoc defensively, as he generated two steals as well. Oh, and it seems like more people think he should get a hefty payday this summer:

Regular season basketball will return on Friday, as the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Portland Trail Blazers. This game, and the Grizzlies’ playoff push in general, is going to be fun to watch.

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