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Report Card: Triumph through threes in Philly

In one of the most impressive victories of the season, the Grizzlies are finding new and needed ways to win.

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night, after the Grizzlies were able to earn a needed victory to begin a tough April schedule against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Head Coach Taylor Jenkins made one of the more noteworthy quotes he has made in recent memory. On the Grizzlies success from three (19-39 from beyond the arc that night), Jenkins said “19 threes is great, but 39 attempts is even better.”

I feel the significance of that statement centers on the fact that it likely highlights the next step in the evolution of this young Grizzlies roster. When asked to elaborate more on that quote tonight, Jenkins stated “the readiness and willingness to shoot threes allows for us to have more balance.” The end result is for a team that played many close games against some of the better teams in the NBA in March, the Grizzlies now have multiple avenues they can confidently take to earn victories going forward.

Let’s hand out some grades on a night that saw the Grizzlies not only move above .500 at 24-23, but also into a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference playoff race.

Head Coach Taylor Jenkins- Grade A

It is common sense that, in today’s NBA, the Grizzlies simply need to attempt more threes. However, in the first two games of April, after seeing the Grizzlies allow their opponents to make nearly four more threes per game than they did in March, Jenkins made sure it was the right players who were attempting the threes.

Through March, the Grizzlies best shooters from beyond the arc were Desmond Bane, Grayson Allen, and De’Anthony Melton. As a trio, they were averaging 13 threes per game. However, the Grizzlies themselves remained among the worst three point shooting teams in the league. After likely seeing how important success from three is while facing some tough opponents in March, Jenkins had clear proof adjustments were needed.

And that is exactly what happened.

The trio of Bane, Allen, and Melton are now a combined 21-42 from three over their first two April games, including 11-25 last night. On Friday night, they had 17 combined attempts among the team’s 39 total attempts. Last night, they attempted 17 of the team’s first 27 attempts. Though this rate of success is obviously not sustainable, the fact that Jenkins has clearly made a commitment to feature his best shooters more is shining through with impressive initial results.

Dillon Brooks- A

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Grizzlies victory over the 76ers was the fact that Dillon Brooks led all Grizzlies scorers with 17 points. While contributions came from all over the place, it was Brooks who once again impressed with his play on both ends of the court. He shot 6-9 from the field, 2-2 for three, produced five rebounds and three assists and a +20 rating. Brooks led the Grizzlies with the highest +/- average rating per game in March, and is starting with a combined +22 in April. In various ways, Brooks is starting to show the positive consistency we have all hoped for since he arrived in Memphis.

Desmond Bane- B+

Though he had a +/- rating of a -1, this game clearly continued a positive trend for Bane’s clear development in his rookie season. He did have another successful night from beyond the arc, as he made three of six attempts. He is also continuing to show the ability to impact the game across the board.

After producing five rebounds and five assists against Utah, Bane matched his career high with seven rebounds against Minnesota. He followed that up with six more boards tonight, his fifth straight game with four or more rebounds. An underrated strength of his game coming out of TCU was his ability to rebound as a wing, and that his starting to show to make him and the Grizzlies’ bench even more versatile moving forward.

Whoever handled the team’s post-game food orders- Incomplete

Though most everything went right for the Grizzlies on the court, the same cannot be said for the postgame dinner plans. Whoever was in charge of the dinner orders evidently did not plan for enough Philly Cheesesteaks to be available to meet the team’s demand. It is among the most known traditions in America: when in Philly, savor the Cheesesteaks as the folks from Philly do. Hopefully, Grayson and Dillon both got to enjoy their own cheesesteaks as it appeared Ja was looking forward to doing following his media session. If not, perhaps their orders will make it to the front of the line for whatever preferred delicacies the Grizzlies want in Miami on Tuesday night.

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