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The Long View: Letting it fly

The Memphis Grizzlies made it rain from deep

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Charlotte Hornets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies didn’t just let it fly. They scorched the nets.

The Grizzlies sank a franchise-best 23 three-pointers while shooting a sizzling 46.9% from deep. What was also so great about it was that multiple players were feeling it from outside.

  • Kyle Anderson: 6-8
  • Grayson Allen: 5-12
  • Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks: 4-8 (each)
  • Tyus Jones: 3-4

It was simply a historic night shooting, and it was just what the doctor ordered to snap this losing streak. A key component of that was how they were able to get Ja Morant going and use his playmaking and the defense’s attention to generate these open shots.

Yesterday, I looked into ways to get Ja Morant going, as defenses were keying in on him with relentless blitzes. The Grizzlies did a great job using multiple playmakers to initiate the offense some possessions, and having Morant get the ball out of his hands early to Jonas Valanciunas for some give-and-go, downhill action.

As Morant would get inside, the defense would shift their attention back to him, leaving an open shooter around the perimeter.

It was simply a wonderful offensive display, and it’s the kind of system that Coach Jenkins and his team are wanting to see going forward.

Charlotte Hornets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Granted, the team won’t be drilling 20 three’s a night — no NBA squad does this. However, this is what the Grizzlies system will look like: getting downhill, driving and kicking, moving the basketball, and making the right play.

It ultimately leads to great pace, as Coach Taylor Jenkins said was better in the second half.

“We’ve got to play with pace and we’ve got to play with force, even if the half court. It’s our screens, it’s our cuts, it’s moving to the spots that we need to on the floor. I thought that we had a better effort there tonight,” Jenkins said. “The more you’re moving it, the more you’re going to get open looks. If you’re in the right spots and you’re playing with that pace, you’re going to have a little bit more confidence on the offensive end and have a little bit more rhythm.”

Ja Morant is the point of attack when it comes to moving the ball, as last night highlighted. The Grizzlies front office has done a good job of getting shooters around him to maximize his playmaking and downhill impact, and it needs to continue to be a priority going forward.

Desmond Bane seems like a lock here, as he’s already one of the best 3-point percentage shooters in basketball. Good corner shooters like Kyle Anderson are a major key — as he highlighted tonight in a big-time manner — because it’s considered one of the most efficient shots in basketball. Even someone like Dillon Brooks, who hasn’t been on his best shooting run, is good to have since he can create his own 3-pointer when needed.

Shooters like Grayson Allen are important as well, as he's changed his shot diet to take more 3’s (his 3PA rate is up from 56.2 to 70.1). When asking him about that, he said that he’s adjusted his shot portfolio because he finds so many catch-and-shoot opportunities within the offense.

Last night’s 3-point shooting performance was a fantastic way to break out of a losing streak. Though the number of makes is hard to sustain, it’s also encouraging to note that it bodes well for when De’Anthony Melton, Justise Winslow, and Jaren Jackson Jr. (arguably their most skilled shooter) return to the fold.

Coach Taylor Jenkins came into Memphis wanting these Grizzlies to let it fly, and last night they did that and then some.

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