The Memphis Grizzlies should be returning to action tomorrow night against the San Antonio Spurs, as they’ve been cleared to have full practices at the facilities. It’s surely going to be exciting to see them return to the court, hoping to maintain its winning ways prior to the hiatus.
There are also some developments to watch along the way: Ja Morant’s All-Star campaign, Justise Winslow and Jaren Jackson Jr.’s returns, Winslow’s Grizzly debut, the state of the fully-healthy rotation, and the potential trades down the road.
Nonetheless, it’s great to have Grizzlies hoops again. To celebrate, I talk with GBB’s Justin Lewis, Bryce Hayes, Parish Sharkey, and Brendan Smart about the questions ahead upon the Grizzlies’ return.
1) What’s more likely - Desmond Bane shooting 48% from 3, or Ja being an All-Star?
Associate Editor Parker Fleming: Ja Morant being an All-Star seems more likely. Desmond Bane’s 3-point percentage is historic — in fact the greatest 3-point shooting percentage of any rookie in NBA history. However, given the trajectory Ja and this Grizzlies team has been on this season, it’s certainly possible that we see “All-Star 12” this season.
Senior Staff Writer, “3 & D” Host Justin Lewis: Ja being an All Star. No one shoots 48% from 3 for a season. That’s elite and Bane just isn’t there yet. Some regression will follow. Ja however is only improving his all around game and leading a team. Westbrook and Harden have gone East. McCollum is injured. The guard spots are thinner than usual. Ja has a real shot.
Senior Staff Writer Bryce Hayes: The Grizzlies keep winning, and Ja Morant will be an All-Star. He’s the head of the snake and will be recognized as such come All-Star time whether it’s by fans or coaching staffs. Desmond Bane’s play time - and hopefully three point shooting volume - will increase as the year continues, so that 48% mark is a tough for me to see year one.
“The Starting 5” Host: Parish Sharkey: Ja being an All-Star. With Westbrook out of the West, and Ja being recognized as a star, he has a legit case to make All-Star. 48% is hard to maintain, although Bane doesn’t attempt many on a game to game basis.
Senior Staff Writer, Grizz Gaming Correspondent Brendan Smart: I see Ja Morant making an All-Star team before Desmond Bane averages 48% from deep. Listen, I love Bane’s game, but it is a very real possibility that Morant becomes a Western Conference All-Star this season. With Bane playing inconsistent minutes nightly due to depth on the wings along with matchups (which I don’t agree with), and Morant flourishing, give me Morant at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.
2) Who’s the most likely to turn around their slow start?
Associate Editor Parker Fleming: I’m going to roll with Dillon Brooks. Yes, he has shaky shot selection, but I don’t envision him shooting 36.9% from the field forever. Once Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justise Winslow return, that defensive attention he has received thus far should go away, leading to more clean looks that’ll find the bottom of the net.
Senior Staff Writer, “3 & D” Host Justin Lewis: Grayson Allen is in the midst of doing just that. I believe he will continue to put that early season slump away and silence the doubters. Grayson Island is a great place to be.
Senior Staff Writer Bryce Hayes: A few weeks ago my answer would’ve been Brandon Clarke, but as he returns to form, I’m going to go with the most divisive answer: Dillon Brooks. He may be the team’s 2nd leading scorer, but his shooting splits aren’t the greatest. But as Jaren returns, and Justise makes his eventual return, Dillon will return to the role he’s really supposed to be in with fewer shots and more open looks in rhythm. Grayson Allen is also trending upward, so he’s a candidate as well.
“The Starting 5” Host: Parish Sharkey: I guess Dillon is the only answer, because all other players I would’ve considered. Gorgui Dieng, Grayson Allen, Clarke, and Tyus Jones have already turned around their slow starts. Dillon just needs to start making shots, he’s already elevated his playmaking skills.
Senior Staff Writer, Grizz Gaming Correspondent Brendan Smart: A lot of guys that started slow, have really bounced back from those slow starts. Grayson Allen was a guy that had a slow start after getting the starting nod from Taylor Jenkins in the preseason. Took Allen a few games, but seems to be back on track with three consecutive double-digit outings.
3) Who should be the backup 2 guard between Bane, Melton, Grayson, and Konchar?
Associate Editor Parker Fleming: This is so tricky. Desmond Bane is the most likely option to stick around long term on a Western Conference Finals Grizzlies team, so feeding him reps is essential. Grayson Allen plays Memphis Grizzlies basketball by shooting a boatload of 3’s, making plays off the dribble, and staying aggressive on defense. Then, De’Anthony Melton is a +/- savant that makes winning plays as a lockdown defender and secondary playmaker, and there’s also more of a financial investment in him. I’d probably roll with Bane because of his elite shooting, but there needs to be some maneuvering to make sure Melton has a role in the rotation.
Senior Staff Writer, “3 & D” Host Justin Lewis: Dillon Brooks. You start Grayson or Bane for their more consistent spot up shooting to put next to Ja and let Brooks come off the bench and do his things getting buckets (or trying to at least). But if that’s not acceptable then for now Allen. He’s just a step ahead of Bane and is the best playmaker out of the group
Senior Staff Writer Bryce Hayes: The backup 2 has been of much discussion on social media & GBB comments. I love Desmond Bane and started the “island,” I’m not yelling about starting him. The answer is a mixture of all based on matchup and situation, while occasionally sliding Bane, Allen, or Konchar up to the 3 spot as we have already done his season. As Bane continues to improve, he should take precedent over the others but it shouldn’t lead to the removal of the rest from the rotation entirely.
“The Starting 5” Host: Parish Sharkey: Bane. I like his potential and shot making better than the others. Very tough decision, but that’s what I would like to see.
Senior Staff Writer, Grizz Gaming Correspondent Brendan Smart: If we are discussing this topic with no Justise Winslow, and Allen is still starting, it’s obviously Bane, but there can be a balance. Bane can play the three as well, with Melton at the two off the bench for the Grizzlies. Now, when Winslow returns, I expect Allen to be the two off the bench, and Bane running the three. The depth on the roster is crazy, but until a trade happens, Allen is the guy off the bench for Memphis.
4) Assuming Beal and LaVine are off the table, should the Grizzlies deal at the deadline?
Associate Editor Parker Fleming: I’m going to say yes with an asterisk. If the Grizzlies get to have a fully healthy roster for a month before the deadline, it’d be nice if they made a deal to ensure that Bane and Xavier Tillman are the 9th and 10th men in the rotation — Jonas Valanciunas to Charlotte for Cody Zeller and a 1st round pick makes too much sense. However, if we see limited action of a Grizzlies team with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justise Winslow in the rotation, they should hold tight unless something worthwhile pops up.
Senior Staff Writer, “3 & D” Host Justin Lewis: No. It’s not their window yet. Let the group continue to gel, add Winslow to the mix and run with what you got this season then evaluate in the summer.
Senior Staff Writer Bryce Hayes: Put the trade machine down. The Grizzlies have no reason to force a move and break up the current roster, since the current roster has yet to be completely healthy. The team is winning even with men down. Ride this season out and see what these guys can do as a more mature version of the team that made the play-in last season.
“The Starting 5” Host: Parish Sharkey: Stand pat. Maybe look for a smaller deal to utilize Dieng’s expiring deal, but if it’s not Beal or LaVine, just develop and continue to evaluate what we have now.
Senior Staff Writer, Grizz Gaming Correspondent Brendan Smart: To clear the logjam at the two-guard spot, you’ll probably need to move one (or more) to create an opportunity for a superstar to walk through the door. Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine are great options for the Grizzlies, who have been searching for a wing scorer since Rudy Gay. If I had to chose, give me Beal. It feels like the Wizards are more vulnerable at this point, given record and slow start. It feels like they’d take more on in terms of contracts to move Beal while securing assets (Grizzlies picks).