Coming into Friday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder were playing very good basketball. While they were not on an extended winning streak, the Thunder were shooting well from three while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was playing at an MVP level in the month of November. It was going to be a tough matchup for the Grizzlies.
Fortunately, Jaren Jackson Jr., John Konchar, and others were ready for the defense. A historic night offensively for Jackson Jr. and excellent defense allowed the Grizzlies to earn another victory against a tough Western Conference opponent. Let’s hand out a few grades from a fun Friday Night.
Jaren Jackson Jr. - A+
Jackson Jr. not only gets a perfect grade for one of the best nights of his career, but also for doing something no one in NBA history had done before last night.
JAREN JACKSON JR— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) November 19, 2022
(in 24:54 of playing time) pic.twitter.com/8UcxRDdeWH
Jackson Jr. is the first player in league history to produce 25+ points, 10+ rebounds along with multiple blocks, steals, and threes while playing less than 25 minutes in a single game. The fact that he did this in just his second game back from injury is even more impressive.
It was clear from the start that Jackson Jr. knew he could impose his will on the imposing Thunder lineups. There was a clear level of unwavering confidence, and it made the difference early and often for the Grizzlies to grab and maintain the lead. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Jackson Jr. to once again take his game to the next level.
John Konchar- A
When it was revealed that Desmond Bane would be out with an injury over the next few weeks, logic suggested John Konchar would once again take on a bigger role. However, unlike in the past, more minutes for Konchar also meant for of a featured offensive role, especially as a shooter. Friday night offered a bit of a glimpse as to the value Konchar can provide when finding good looks.
Konchar was 7-11 from the field and 5-7 from three for 19 points. He also contributed 10 rebounds and was a +15 when on the court. Konchar consistently added value on both ends of the court and played a big role in getting the win over the Thunder. While Konchar will not shoot this well every game, he demonstrated that he can play a significant role in Grizzlies wins as a starter.
Santi Aldama - A
Speaking of players taking on new roles, with Jaren Jackson Jr. back, Santi Aldama has naturally seen a reduction in his role to becoming a potential bench “ace” for the Grizzlies. Last night showed that he could thrive in this role.
Aldama provided 15 points, three three-pointers, and seven rebounds off the bench. As Jackson Jr. continues to build up his minutes, Aldama will likely continue to see 20-25 minutes of action each night. He will remain a valuable asset for the Grizzlies if he can continue to shoot and rebound at above average rates, allowing Memphis to feature a size advantage against many teams that can help win games.
Grizzlies Defense- A
As mentioned above, coming into last night, the Thunder had played outstanding offensive basketball over the past few weeks. They regularly were hitting 15+ threes while shooting 40% or better from beyond the arc while SGA had scored 25+ points in 11 of his 14 games this season, including 37+ in four of his last five gams.
Memphis held the Thunder to just 11 threes and 32% shooting from distance, while SGA had only 15 points in his worst performance of the season. The Thunder are clearly an emerging team full of talent, while Gilgeous alexander is putting together an All-NBA resume for this year as one of the more exciting players in the NBA. The fact that Memphis was able to limit the production of the Thunder’s offense was very encouraging after recent defensive struggles. Memphis now has a reference point of the success it can have limit opposing offenses playing a high level.