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The Long View: Reaching Thresholds Leads to Triumphs

In a statement victory over one of the best teams in the NBA, the Grizzlies showed which boxes need to be check for them to win.

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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

After a much-needed two-day break following a six game and eight night stretch, the Memphis Grizzlies played their best game of the 2020-2021 season so far against the Los Angeles Clippers in 122-94 victory. It truly a statement win, as the Grizzlies, perhaps with the healthiest roster they have had all season, dominated one of the best teams in the NBA over the final three quarters.

It truly was a team effort, as six players scored in double digits, highlighted by Tyus Jones scoring a career high 20 points. However, the even bigger development is that the Grizzlies hit several statistical thresholds that have a strong correlation with wins under head coach Taylor Jenkins. One of those thresholds was yet another night with 27 assists, a mark that I wrote about on Monday as being a good indicator that the Grizzlies are playing well. However, that is just one of several key statistics the Grizzlies reached tonight that are very indicative of how well they play. It also highlights areas the Grizzlies need to consistently perform well in into the future if they hope to become a sustainable winner.

Here a few examples of some critical thresholds that Memphis needs to consistently reach to win:

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

115 Points

101 games into his coaching career, Taylor Jenkins has clearly and significantly changed the identity of the Memphis Grizzlies. He wants to play fast and he wants to shoot and score with the best of them. And though the Grizzlies are a work in progress, when they do score at a high clip, it really helps their chances to win. While some teams may not thrive in high scoring scenarios, when the Grizzlies score 115 or more points since Jenkins became coach, it really correlates well with their ability to win:

  • When the Grizzlies score 115 or more points: 31-12
  • When the Grizzlies score 114 or less points: 19-44

When Memphis is playing the pace-and-space style Taylor Jenkins prefers, it typically means they are thriving in the paint and on the run. Tonight was one of the better examples of that in Taylor Jenkins heading coaching carrer.

12 or Less Opponent Threes

The Grizzlies have arguably been the worst team when it comes to defending the three in the NBA since they returned from their COVID influenced hiatus on January 30th. However, tonight, Memphis did well limiting high percentage looks from three. They held the Clippers, once of the best three pointing shooting teams in the league, to only 12 threes on the evening. The Grizzlies are now 26-17 during the Jenkins era when they prevent their opponents from making 13 or more threes in a game. When Memphis can defend the three, it really allows their ability to dominate in the paint to make a bigger difference. One of the best examples of that in the history of the franchise was on display tonight.

25 or Less Three Point Attempts

Another area where Taylor Jenkins has excelled is featuring the Grizzlies ability to produce in the paint. In fact, when the Grizzlies are excelling at that, it gives them their best chance to win. One reason why is because it minimizes the need to shoot lower percentage shots from distance. In an era where shooting more threes is clearly preferred, Memphis is now 14-5 under Taylor Jenkins when the shoot under 25 threes. The reason being is that if the Grizzlies are hitting shots in the paint with frequency, they can continue to succeed simply doing what comes best instead of having to play outside of their strengths.

Rebounding Advantage by 5 or more Boards

The Grizzlies outrebounded the Clippers 48-41. The Grizzlies have been one of the best teams in the league since Jenkins arrived in creating a net rebound advantage of five or more boards. In the 42 games that Memphis has achieved this goal, they are now 29-13. This is a big benefit to Memphis in creating the FGA attempt advantage that is so critical to their success against more talented teams.

The above numbers clearly show that, for a team that thrives on its depth to perform well, the Grizzlies can meet many statistical standards that allow for them to find different wats to win. Though its fun to see how the Grizzlies record is when Dillon Brooks or Ja Morant score 20 points, its even more enjoyable to see how well they do when everyone contributes. It takes a full effort from the entire roster to consistently produce at needed levels in impactful areas to win on a nightly basis. With depth as a calling card of this team, tonight was a great example of how much potential this team has when everyone contributes. That is a big confidence booster as Memphis looks to finish strong before the All-Star Break.

These numbers also show the streengths of this Grizzlies team. Production in the paint, creating possession advantages, and establishing a face pace of play are all critical to this team’s success. However, getting better in areas of weakness, such as defending the three is just as critical. Hopefully in time, strengths will continue to be shown while weaknesses will be eliminated for a team that hopes to be in the playoffs for years to come.

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