WHAT: 2022 NBA Summer League
WHEN: 8:00 P.M. CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: ESPNU/NBA TV/92.9 FM ESPN MEMPHIS
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Kennedy Chandler, Ziaire Williams, Jake LaRavia, Santi Aldama, Xavier Tillman
Minnesota Timberwolves: Marial Shayok, Kevon Harris, David McCormack, Josh Minott, Wendell Moore Jr.
The Memphis Grizzlies had a very disappointing performance in their first game in Las Vegas Summer League game against the Clippers. As they look to bounce back, the Grizzlies will face off against a Timberwolves team that had a very impressive performance in their 1st game behind an incredible performance from former Memphis Tiger Josh Minott.
The rosters are obviously much different from the exciting and sometimes infuriating playoff series between the two teams, but it still makes for an intriguing storyline. Instead of Ja Morant and Desmond Bane vs Karl Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, it will be Ziaire Williams and Kenneth Lofton Jr. vs. Josh Minott and Wendell Moore Jr.
Here are a few things to watch for in the Grizzlies' 2nd of five summer league games in Vegas.
The Grizzlies rookies are going to be leaned on a lot in the regular season so it is exciting to see them get a lot of playing time this summer. Kenneth Lofton Jr. has been the most impressive of all the rookies and after his performance in Saturday’s game, he should warrant even more minutes. I would even like to see him in the starting lineup next to Xavier Tillman in some future games. Jake LaRavia has shot the ball very well and has even shown some flashes of playmaking ability, he will probably have the biggest role for the Grizzlies next season so his development is extremely important.
Kennedy Chandler has not been very efficient shooting the ball but has made some impressive and exciting plays on both ends of the floor, including a game-winning steal against the 76ers. David Roddy and Vince Williams Jr. have not been quite as flashy but they have made an impact in their minutes. There is a lot to be excited about for Memphis heading into the matchup against the Timberwolves, even the possibility of an all-rookie lineup. After a bad game against the Clippers, keep an eye on these young players as they try to bounce back for the first time in their professional careers.
The State of the Ziaire Williams Summer experiment:
The Grizzlies planned on using Ziaire Williams as a primary ballhandler and through the first 4 summer league games and it has been inconsistent. As a passer, he has been solid and has been able to find open teammates very well, he even had an 8 assist game during the SLC Summer league. However, he has also struggled with the ball in his hands, his dribbling has been suspect and he has often tried to move a little bit too quickly. These are all a part of growing pains, and the same experiment did wonders for Desmond Bane last season, so I still believe that playing some point guard is the best thing for Williams going forward in Vegas.
Even though Williams has struggled with his responsibilities, he has continued to produce off the ball, a role he has become super comfortable with playing with both Ja Morant and Tyus Jones. He is not quite there yet when it comes to shot creation off the dribble but as a catch-and-shoot player, you can see even more improvement from his first season. After playing the second-most playoff minutes of any rookie last season, Williams is ready to take his game to the next level and Summer league is just the first step in that journey.
Can Santi Aldama Bounce Back?
Santi Aldama was expected to be one of the better, more experienced players on the Grizzlies summer league roster but so far he has struggled on both ends of the floor. His game against the Clippers consisted of two passes into the front row, some missed putback layups, and a traveling call on a three-point attempt. He finished with 4 points on 2-7 shooting and was a -20 for the game.
Aldama has shown flashes in both the NBA and the G-League, but with Jaren Jackson Jr. likely missing the early part of the season a lot more responsibility could fall on Aldama. Aldama’s focus has to be on the defensive end, where he has struggled the most in the Summer league. No one is asking him to be Jackson Jr., but he cannot be so easy to attack in the pick and roll with an inability to stay in front of his opponent. He has a chance to bounce back against the Timberwolves and there will be a lot of eyes on him.
The Timberwolves impressed while the Grizzlies disappointed in their first summer league game, so it will be interesting to see how both teams respond. On the bright side for the Grizzlies, after a game like Saturday’s, there is plenty of room for improvement.