As well as Tuesday night went for the Utah Summer League Memphis Grizzlies, things went that poorly on Wednesday night against the other Jazz team. The Jazz “White” squad has more NBA-esque talent, and Memphis sat out their entire starting five from the previous night’s blowout win over the Jazz “Blue” team that has NBA experience. Given all of that, the fact that this game went against the Grizzlies shouldn’t be that surprising.
And it certainly should not be that concerning.
The Jazz were better in this game and deserve credit for the win. But whether it is the sweet taste of victory or the bitter taste of defeat, neither is what matters most in Summer League. Development, talent, skill set being on display - those things are where the attention of Grizzlies personnel lies. Of course you always want to win when you’re competing. But perspective is key here - none of the players that played in this game will likely be Grizzlies this season...at least not without first and foremost being Hustle members (AKA G-Leaguers).
With that in mind, some takeaways from the 94-75 loss.
The “experienced” flashes of Shaq Buchanan
Buchanan has been around the Grizzlies organization for a while now - basically the same amount of time that Ja Morant has been in Memphis. This probably is not an accident. Buchanan was Morant’s college teammate at Murray State, and while he had a solid college career in his own right the fact he came to the Grizzlies organization alongside Ja is probably not a coincidence. But over the last two years Buchanan has developed his game nicely. Those improvements were on display in this contest.
He’s become a legitimate three point shooter (5 for 9 from beyond the arc Wednesday night) and while he is still finding comfort in facilitation of offense, he is much better than he was when he arrived in terms of of the dribble penetration and helping on both ends of the floor maintain some level of energy and execution. Buchanan is a solid example of how the G-League can be so benefitial to a team like Memphis - they can develop talent within their organization and help them put forward their best attempt to get to the league.
Maybe Buchanan is never an NBA player. And maybe he is here in part because of his superstar good buddy. But he’s taking advantage of the coaching and opportunity. He’s taking this shot seriously.
- The offense was in a different kind of mud. These guys were not interested in patiently waiting for the game to come to them. Far too many looks were forced and not in rhythm - their scoring issues the first three quarters (outside of the likes of Buchanan) were not accidental. 36% shooting is not going to get the job done regardless of level of competition.
- Romeo Weems struggled offensively. He did not make a single field goal attempt but he was active on the glass (six rebounds) and was able to display why Memphis is interested in him as a prospect with the Hustle. His game flashes well in terms of what he’s able to do on both ends of the floor. He will fit with that group nicely this coming season...assuming he sticks around.
- Yves Pons is an athlete. Another game, another display of bounce and explosiveness off the floor on an alley-oop dunk. If the rumors of him being the next two-way contract player are true, he makes a lot of sense in that role as a raw prospect that could benefit from NBA practices and G-League reps.
- They fought back. They easily could have laid down and gotten waxed when things got out of hand earlier in the game. But they competed and brought the game back to respectability until a late run by the Jazz ended the game. The Utah Summer Grizzlies showed heart, and that of course matters as well as these guys compete for their NBA/G-League careers.
The Utah Summer League concludes on Friday with Memphis taking on the San Antonio Spurs.