The Memphis Grizzlies are feeling themselves right now.
Don’t believe me? Ask the mighty Milwaukee Bucks. They are legitimately one of the best teams in the NBA, and yet Giannis Antetokounmpo and company fell to the red hot Grizzlies. The damndest thing, though, is it isn’t as if the team is playing some elite hero ball with Ja Morant leading the way. On the contrary - Ja Morant arguably had the worst shooting night on the entire Memphis team (while doing other things well, like facilitating offense). But here we are - a 128-115 win for the Grizzlies where at times the Memphis lead approached 20 points.
Almost a 20 point lead! In Milwaukee! On the second night of a back to back!
It’s the best win of the season. And it deserves some very high grades.
Desmond Bane - 25 minutes played, 16 points, 6-10 shooting (3-5 from three), 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 0 turnovers, +18 +/-
Whether he starts, comes off the bench, whatever - when the team is fully healthy, Desmond Bane simply should not be the rotation casualty of the roster being at complete strength. He not only is too good to be - he is also too valuable to the future of this franchise.
The 30th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Bane is due to be paid “only” roughly $8 million over the next three seasons. Assuming Memphis opts in to both years of his final two on his rookie deal (which, spoiler alert, they will) Desmond will only could toward $3.8 million of the cap before he hits restricted free agency. Between Bane and De’Anthony Melton ($8 million in the final year of his contract, same season as Bane’s) Memphis will only be spending about $11.9 million on two very effecting wings.
That will matter a hell of a lot when the Grizzlies cap sheet has a Ja Morant max extension on it...and whatever Jaren Jackson Jr. eventually makes.
Bane created off the dribble against Milwaukee. He hit threes. He defended well. He led Memphis in +/- on the evening at +18 in 25 minutes on the floor. He is in the mix to be one of the most valuable pieces on this roster compared to the money he makes. And will almost certainly be on the next great Grizzlies team because of that fact.
Not bad for a young man who only had one D-1 offer coming out of high school. Who cares if he has short arms? The dude can ball. GRADE- A+
Grayson Allen- 34 minutes played, 26 points, 9-13 shooting (7-10 from three), 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist, 1 turnover, +7 +/-
On the latest episode of GBBLive with guest Evan Barnes of the Commercial Appeal (which you can catch here, in case you missed it) I said that Grayson Allen was the player that has done the most for his case to be on that “next great Memphis Grizzlies team”. He plays the game the way Taylor Jenkins wants it to be played - he shoots a ton of threes (converting them at a high level), and while he is not an ideal defender by any stretch he is opportunistic and understands how to stay in the mix on that end without fouling. Jenkins values players like that immensely - he proved that with Jae Crowder getting so much run last season despite his inefficient shooting. At least he was willing to let it fly.
But Grayson is much better than Crowder was. And that makes him a player that Jenkins will likely argue hard for to keep around, if possible.
My colleague Parker Fleming said on that same GBBLive that Allen may have priced himself out of the Grizzlies range in free agency the season after this one...and he may be right. Perhaps Grayson being the odd man out has more to do with how valuable he has made himself once he gets a chance to hit the semi-open market of restricted free agency in 2022. Unless the Grizzlies can extend him this summer to a team-friendly deal (which...maybe they should try very hard to do...), Allen may be a trade chip not because Bane and Melton are better - but because Allen will make more than them as Memphis becomes more cap sensitive in the next two seasons. Grayson has been that productive, and elite three point shooting on high volume can be expensive.
What a time to be alive. GRADE - A+
- Xavier Tillman can also ball. 15 points on 70% shooting? Yes please. X makes great offensive reads and takes what the opposing defense gives him nicely. His defensive movement and malleability make him worthy of minutes alone, but the touch he has displayed on that midrange floater? Icing on the cake. GRADE - B+
- Kyle Anderson games are awkwardly fun. The red-hot three point shooting has regressed to the mean, as many expected it would. But what Anderson did in this game - 8 assists and 8 rebounds to go along with his 8 points on 7 shots - he can do on a nightly basis. These hold value too - the game isn’t all scoring. Kyle defends, he creates, he clean the glass. He belongs. GRADE - B+
- Taylor Jenkins developed a solid game plan. The Grizzlies head coach before the game, and his players afterwards, talked about how much Milwaukee liked to attack the post. That was clearly a focus of theirs in this contest, and while Giannis Antetokounmpo still had a massive game that can’t be said about the rest of their roster. Milwaukee couldn’t get to the rim how they wanted to as a team, they couldn’t get out and run, and the substitutions/rotations were clean and executed in a smooth manner. Very well done, Coach Jenkins. GRADE - A
Memphis has started this difficult road trip as well as could have possibly been hoped. The Grizzlies have a well-deserved day off today before they go to Denver to take on the Nuggets. That game Monday is scheduled to be an 8:00 PM CT start.