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Grizzlies hold off Bulls in 96-91 Summer League win

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The Memphis Grizzlies pull off the win against the Chicago Bulls

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2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Chicago Bulls v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies had their 4th Las Vegas Summer League game in the past 6 days — and their 7th game overall — looking to bounce back from two consecutive losses.

The Grizzlies continued to sit Desmond Bane, Xavier Tillman, and John Konchar, as there is a strong inclination that those 3 are done with this summer’s festivities (note: Killian Tillie is out with an injury). As a result, we’ll get to see the team’s first round picks, Ziaire Williams and Santi Aldama, get a more featured role.

The Grizzlies had a strong grasp on the lead in the 1st half, while using a 3-point barrage to really open up the lead in the 2nd quarter. The Bulls fought back hard out the break, scoring 31 third-quarter points to the Grizzlies’ 15. Memphis, however, regrouped with some strong bench play to close Chicago out in 96-91 win.

It’s not fair to give strong takeaways after Summer League play, but I’ll give some slight observations.

2021 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Rooks

We’ll start with Ziaire Williams here.

It was a less-than-ideal game for the 10th pick in this year’s draft. He went 5-18 shooting, missing all 6 of his three-point attempts. In addition, he didn’t stand out as much defensively as he had been the first couple games. However, he did have some good flashes. He generated some decent looks that just didn’t fall, and I’m intrigued by his ability to rise up over the defense in the mid-range. On the other side, there were some questionable shots on his part as well.

My big takeaway for Williams from this game is, I want to see his game when he has NBA playmakers around him. The shot-creation flashes are there, but he needs those NBA-level playmakers at this stage of his development.

Last night was Santi Aldama’s best Summer League game. An interesting preface: Coach Darko Rajakovic mentioned Aldama has been dealing with jet lag that could’ve hindered his performance last week. He looked a lot more comfortable offensively, and he made some decent defensive plays as well. Like many Grizzlies in last night’s game, Aldama got more reps as an offense initiator, and he did some promising things with the ball in his hands. He has a nice little slip pass that we see at times from Xavier Tillman and Killian Tillie. Nonetheless, it was nice to see Aldama do cool basketball things last night.

It’s like we shouldn’t make harsh proclamations based on all the chaos that is Summer League basketball.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Other Slight Observations

  • Sam Merrill was the biggest beneficiary in this “no point guard” system the Grizzlies are running, sliding in as the de facto floor general. He surprised me a lot with his game off the dribble, making some strong takes to the rim and finding his spots in the mid-range. Something cool to see from the Grizzlies trade acquisition for Grayson Allen — and Isiah Thomas’ favorite Summer League Grizzly.
  • Oliver Sarr was a leading scorer for the Grizzlies tonight, and was catching the attention of many people within Grizz Twitter with his game. It wouldn't surprise me to see him get a good look with the Memphis Hustle.
  • Shaq Buchanan worked his ass off in this game, finishing with a game-high +26 +/-. He was all over the place on both ends of the floor. Though his offense wasn’t super efficient, he stayed aggressive hunting for his shots, which was necessary in the lineups he was featured in.
  • We probably stepped on the gas too hard for the “Yves Pons, two-way contract” train. He definitely needs some offensive seasoning with the Hustle next season, as he’s limited on that end of the floor.
  • Sean McDermott left the game with a knee injury. The broadcast team mentioned he made his way back to the bench towards the end of the game, which is a good sign. He continued to bounce back well from his 1st Las Vegas Summer League outing, making some good plays off the bounce and connecting on the deep ball too. If he can make strides in his shooting efficiency and volume, he has a shot to stick around.

Tune in tonight at 8PM CST, as the Memphis Grizzlies will take on the Los Angeles Clippers in one last Summer League outing.

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