Plain and simple, the youth of the Memphis Grizzlies is showing. The youth of the players and the youth of the head coach. In the biggest game of the season, Ja Morant looked like a rookie for perhaps the first time all year. A player not afraid of the moment failed to show up in the biggest moment of the season.
Grizz Twitter exploded on Dillon Brooks after the San Antonio loss, many placing most of the blame on the struggles of Memphis on him. While he struggled again against the Pelicans, it was obvious he was not the only problem. So let’s get to the grades to uncover the issues:
De’Anthony Melton: F
Twitter and analytics darling Melton has disappeared. Hopefully he is just sucking on purpose so that the Grizzlies can re-sign him next season! But really, in the scrimmages Melton was balling out, looking to continue to improve his impressive breakout sophomore season. His minutes shrunk to 16 as Grayson outplayed him for the second night in a row. Memphis can’t afford three wings to struggle offensively in the rotation.
Ja Morant: F
I have heavily criticized Dillon Brooks repeatedly while giving Morant a pass when he struggles. The rookie shot 10% from 3, 23.8% on 21 shots overall while having the worst +/- in the game. The fact is that while, yes, he is a rookie, he also is the leader of this team. Memphis needed Morant to be aggressive early and be a leader in shot attempts in order to be successful, but no one expected Ja to struggle so mightily.
Maybe Morant is tired as his minutes have increased in meaningful NBA games after months of layoff, or maybe Ja has been so incredible we forget rookies are rookies. Regardless, Ja can never repeat this performance in the bubble for the Grizzlies to be able to succeed.
Grayson Allen: A
Grayson completely solidified himself as a fixture in the rotation going forward if/when Tyus Jones returns to the team. I have long said he has the purest shooting stroke on the team and it showed tonight as he went 5-6 from deep and had 17 points at half. The problem is that he finished the game with the same shooting stat line, but to no fault of his own. The very few times Memphis found Allen in the second half, he drove and dished it to an open teammate. Allen also did just about as good a job chasing J.J. Redick around as anyone.
The team itself is in danger of flunking out of the Orlando bubble as they dropped 3 games to teammates not in the playoffs and head into 5 straight against teams that are in. Utah looks beatable, OKC will miss Dennis Schroder and resting is an option for the three East opponents, but the Grizzlies have missed their chance to solidify their position. Now its up to them go from potential bubble drop outs to bounce back ballers.
Next game is Wednesday against the Utah Jazz.