The Memphis Grizzlies embarked on a quick journey to Drake’s city for a 1-game road trip. And yet again, they’re without Ja Morant for the 2nd game of a stretch of a “couple weeks.” After a monster win over the Sacramento Kings, they were going up against the feisty Toronto Raptors, who had beaten them last week.
The Grizzlies, once again, took care of business to get a huge road win over Toronto — where they haven’t won prior since 2013. It was a collective effort on the offensive end once again, with all 10 players getting in the scoring column. However, it was an even bigger team effort on defense — as the Grizzlies totaled 23 stocks (steals + blocks). They responded to the Raptors’ 3rd-quarter blitz with an increased sense of urgency as well.
As Jaren Jackson Jr. put it — “don’t weather the storm, be the storm.”
The Grizzlies made big plays down the stretch, and they have now won their 2nd-straight game. Grades time.
Jaren Jackson Jr.: 25 points (8-14 shooting, 4-7 from 3), 6 rebounds, 5 blocks, +/- of +21 in 34 minutes (Grade: A+)
Does he have your attention now?
It seems like there have been a lot of games recently where it looks like Jaren Jackson’s best performance since his return from injury, a clear sign that he’s finding his groove once again. And last night was just another example.
Offensively, he got most of his buckets from deep in the 1st in the first half, though was showcasing more of his bag in the second.
Defensively was where he made such an unbelievable impact. He came away with 5 huge blocks, displaying excellent timing and defensive discipline while protecting the rim. He stifled Pascal Siakam in particular, swatting his shot on 3 separate occasions. The block on Scottie Barnes caught the most headlines — I mean, if you’re going to stare someone down, you HAVE to make the dunk.
JAREN JACKSON JR STOPS SCOTTIE BARNES AT THE RIM pic.twitter.com/qMct3HlFaq— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) December 1, 2021
Jaren Jackson Jr. has continued to be fantastic defensively for the Grizzlies, and his two-way play has typically translated to winning basketball for them as well. He’ll continue getting these reps as the guy over the next couple weeks, and performances like that show why he’s worthy of that distinction.
Desmond Bane: 23 points (8-16 shooting, 5-9 from 3), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, +/- of +7 in 33 minutes (Grade: A)
Desmond Bane’s leap continues to be awesome. His player ceiling has just risen exponentially with each passing game. Like I’m starting to think that he’s a crossover of Bradley Beal and Aaron Donald.
On the real, Bane has taken full advantage of the added opportunities this season. He’s taken on a starting role, more freedom off the dribble, more shots from 3, and now added playmaking responsibilities. His work through the offseason and the Summer League has continued to pay off, and his expanded role has just allowed it to shine.
In this game, it was really no different. He looked extremely comfortable in the flow of offense. He ran the transition lanes really well, and he even finished with nice pizzazz around the rim. He let the 3-ball fly with an abundance of confidence — 9 attempts(!!!). And he just looked more poised and controlled handling the ball.
Bane needs more credit in the Most Improved Player race. His leap has been stellar.
Dillon Brooks: 17 points (5-18 shooting, 1-5 from 3), 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block, +/- of +12 in 33 minutes (Grade: B+)
This was not a game for the box score for Dillon Brooks, and that’s okay. It just shows that there’s more beyond the numbers.
You’re correct, the offensive efficiency wasn’t there. However, he is being tasked with more creation responsibilities with Ja Morant out the picture, which could lead to a tougher shot quality. He brought the energy offensively as well late in the game with how he was putting pressure on the defense, including a 3 that spurned the “it’s my house” celebration from Brooks:
Nonetheless, where this grade lies is just the defensive energy and swagger he played with. Brooks helped set a tone defensively with his ability to get into the passing lanes, as well as his individual defense on Fred VanVleet.
Dillon Brooks just made a number of winning plays, as his fast break steal on Scottie Barnes and his block on VanVleet stand out in them. And when you could find a way to impact the game like that without shooting the ball too well, that’ll get a nice boost in grades.
- First Santi Aldama rotation minutes. Taylor Jenkins put Santi Aldama in the regular rotation tonight, a head-scratcher for many Grizzlies faithful. Nonetheless, Jenkins wanted to reward the rookie for his hard work and good performances in assignments, play groups, and extra work. He didn’t do anything in particular to stand out, but he also didn’t hurt the team. He moved the ball, was in the right spots, and shot with confidence. His mechanics aren’t broken, the shot will fall. It was nice to see Aldama get some run in a tight win. Grade - C+.
- Brandon Clarke bounce back. Brandon Clarke didn't play well in the first half, particularly due to foul trouble (3 fouls in 4 minutes). However, he made a big impact in the 2nd half with his energy and his offensive efficiency. He couldn’t get the best positioning sometimes on the offensive glass, but he still managed to gather some put-backs as well. Clarke turned around a tough first half to be a part of that closing 5-man unit. Grade - B-.
- De’Anthony Melton doing everything on an off-shooting night. Melton couldn't find his shot in this game, connecting on 4 of his 13 shot attempts. For one, I love the assertiveness, and those shots will fall. Secondly, he embodied his “do everything” mantra with his stellar rebounding (10 rebounds), playmaking, and defensive effort — even with some stints against Fred VanVleet. Grade - B.
Tune in on Thursday as the Grizzlies return home to face the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they look to extend their winning streak to 3.