Monday, September 14, 2020

Grizzlies Add New Assistant

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 9:10 AM

The Memphis Grizzlies have hired longtime MIT women's coach Sonia Raman as an assistant on coach Taylor Jenkins' coaching staff, the team announced on Friday.

Raman spent 12 years as head coach of MIT, leading the Engineers to two NCAA Division tournament berths and a 91-45 record in her final five seasons.

Raman graduated from Tufts University, where she spent four years as a player and later served a two-year stint as an assistant coach. She also served as an assistant coach for Wellesley College for six seasons before becoming the women's head coach at MIT.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Tufts and went on to receive a Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 2001.  

Raman will replace Niele Ivey, who left in April to become head coach of the Notre Dame women's team, her alma mater. Raman is the second woman coach in Grizzlies team history and 14th in NBA history.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Memphis Grizzlies coaching staff. I can’t wait to get to Memphis and get started with Taylor, his staff and the team’s emerging young core,” Raman said in a statement.   

“We are beyond excited to welcome Sonia to the Memphis Grizzlies,” Jenkins said. “She has a high basketball IQ and a tremendous ability to teach the game, as well as a strong passion for the game. She is going to be a great addition to our current coaching staff.”

Raman joins a Grizzlies coaching staff that added former San Antonio Spurs G-League coach Blake Ahearn this summer.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Will the Grizzlies Adjust To Clinch a Play-In Spot?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2020 at 2:02 PM

After going 1–4 in the NBA restart, the Grizzlies had a chance to clinch a play-in tournament for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, but the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors had other plans, defeating the Grizzlies 108–99. 

The Orlando bubble has not been kind to the Grizzlies, who have seen their 3.5 game lead dissipate. The Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns are in hot pursuit to dethrone Memphis from the eighth spot. 

Memphis has two games remaining, and it’s do or die time. First-year guard Ja Morant is taking it one game at a time.

“I’m not worried about no play-in games right now,” Morant chirped after the loss. “My focus now is learning from my mistakes this game against the Raptors and trying to fix them.

“We seen a lot of positives tonight. We missed some wide-open shots, but I feel like we made the right reads attacking their defense  —  bottom line, there [were] a lot of positives from today’s game.”

There are so many things the Grizzlies need to fix in order for them to qualify for the play-in tournament, but one bright spot for the Grizzlies has been the emergence of backup guard Grayson Allen, who has been shooting the leather off the ball from the three-point line. In the five games played in Orlando, the Duke alum has averaged 16.6 points while shooting an impressive 52.6 percent from the three-point line. 

Keys to Avoiding an Early Trip Back to Memphis

The efficient Dillon Brooks has to show up

In Sunday’s loss, Dillon Brooks took a team-high 26 shot attempts and connected on 11 and went 3-of-10 from the three-point stripe. Brooks was efficient and effective in the Grizzlies only win in Orlando. He went 10-18 from the field while shooting 55.6 percent. In that game, Brooks took only four three-point shots and connected on two of them. 

In the four losses, Brooks hasn’t been as great, but has made key buckets that gave Memphis chances to win. In those losses, he shot 39.5 percent while going 7-of-19 from the field. Brooks has to be more consistent in order for the Grizzlies to advance to the play-in tournament. This isn’t a bash-a-Brooks commentary. He is not perfect and, at the same time, he’s not a horrible player. On Sunday, the starting shooting guard came alive in the 4th period, scoring 12 of his 25 points, so he can help the team if he's on target. 

shot_chart.png
With Jaren Jackson Jr. out for the season, the Grizzlies don't really have a lot of options offensively. But Brooks has to make the right decisions, ones that won’t cost the team when it matters most. He is better when he drives to the basket and with mid-range jumpers. He has to do a better job of finding his open teammates instead of forcing the issue by a taking bad shot.

Play to their strengths...

The Grizzlies have to play hard for 48 minutes. It seems like there's often no spark at the beginning of games and the team starts to play hard when it’s too late. And Memphis has to get more from its starters, in particular, Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas needs to have a better game than he did against his offensive output against Toronto, his former team, which held him scoreless.

The 6' 11" center’s effective field goal percentage is 60.5 percent, which helped the Grizzlies become one of the best in the league in scoring in the paint. But Valanciunas has to score for that to matter. The Raptors were effective at double-teaming the big man and taking him out of the game. Coach Jenkins has to find a way to get him more touches inside. 

In their lone win in the bubble, the Grizzlies outscored the Thunder 56–36 in the paint. 

Ja Morant has to get going early...

The presumptive NBA Rookie of the Year has to turn it on before the fourth quarter. Morant is really missing Jackson Jr. in the starting lineup, and all the pressure is on Morant to lead the team to the play-in tournament and playoffs.

Morant's court vision is exceptional and he has the knack for running an effective offense. The only thing that is lacking is efficient shooters around him. Morant is at his best finishing at the rim; we've all seen the highlight dunks. But teams have found ways to limit him in the bubble games, holding him to 41.2 percent from the field, compared to his effective field goal percentage for the year of 51.2 percent. 

The 21-year-old is unselfish and tries to get his teammates going, but he has the ability to take over a game. Morant has to realize with the injuries the Grizzlies have suffered, the team can go only as far he takes them. He is more deadly when he is having fun and Memphis need him to smile, have fun, and be the killer we know he can be. 

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Has the Bubble Popped for the Grizzlies?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2020 at 8:42 AM

Jaren Jackson Jr. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.



The Memphis Grizzlies entered the NBA Bubble sitting nicely in position for the 8th seed.
They were ahead of the other Western Conference teams volleying for the final playoff spot by 3.5 games. Players such as Brandon Clarke and Grayson Allen, who had been sidelined with injuries before the season was put on hold, returned from the hiatus healthy and ready to play. Trade deadline acquisition Justise Winslow was said to be healed and ready to be put into rotation.

So, entering the bubble, the squad was healthy, hungry, and ready to compete for their playoff spot. Things were looking up for a change, and the immediate future for the young Grizzlies appeared bright. Unfortunately, it was not to be meant to be. Much like the year 2020 itself, things have rapidly gone from bad to worse, health-wise, for this team.

Not Great:
First, there was Winslow re-injuring himself in practice and once again landing on the injured list. When he was signed, it was already expected that Winslow would not hit the court in a Grizzlies uniform until next season. Injuries always suck, and by all accounts, Winslow had been playing well in resumed practices. However, as disappointing as it was, it did not leave the Grizzlies any worse off than they were when the season was put on hold back in March.

Next came the series of scrimmage games, the Bubble's version of a preseason. In those three scrimmage games, the Grizzlies finished 1-2. Again, not great but could be attributed in part to rust from the long hiatus.

Bad:
On July 29th Grizzlies PR informed us that guard Tyus Jones was experiencing knee soreness.



The Grizzlies went on to play the first of eight seeding games on July 31st — which they lost to the Portland Trailblazers in overtime. This loss can be attributed largely to poor decision making down the stretch and missing free throws.

Game two was a loss against the San Antonio Spurs. Game three was an even bigger loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Sensing the pattern here yet? Hint: It's not winning.

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The Worst:
Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks have both struggled with shooting in the games played so far. In fact, it has been Jaren Jackson Jr. who has been the biggest standout through the first three games. In a heartbreaking turn of events, it was revealed that Jackson Jr. had suffered a season-ending injury in Sunday's loss to the Pelicans.



There are still five games remaining in the season, in theory still time to stack some wins and hold on to their playoff spot. But the loss of Jaren Jackson Jr. might be too much for this young team to overcome. The odds are not in the Grizzlies favor.

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Friday, July 31, 2020

Grizzlies vs. Trail Blazers Preview

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2020 at 12:57 PM

The Memphis Grizzlies return to regular season action Friday afternoon after nearly a five-month absence. The Grizzlies will face a hungry Portland Trail Blazers squad that has playoff aspirations. 

Memphis leads the Trail Blazers by 3.5 games in the Western Conference standings. The Grizzlies have to keep the momentum ahead of the five trailing Western Conference teams in order to keep the eight seed and advance to the playoffs. Here’s the play-in scenario for the eighth seed:

If the Grizzlies are more than four games ahead of the team in ninth place, Memphis qualifies for the playoff berth. If the team in ninth place is within four games of the Grizzlies, those two teams would compete in a play-in tournament for the eighth seed in the playoffs. The ninth-place team must win two games before the Grizzlies wins one to clinch the eighth playoff spot.

This is a pivotal game for both contenders and "must-win" for both teams, much like a playoff game. 

Keys to a win for the Grizzlies

Kyle Anderson continues his offensive swagger

In the three scrimmages, Kyle Anderson averaged 14.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.33 blocks in 23.5 minutes. After going 16–59 from three in the regular season games before the season suspension, the UCLA alum connected on seven three-point shots during the scrimmages. 

If Anderson can play at this level during the eight seeding games, it will be a huge lift for Memphis. Anderson’s aggressive play will be a problem for the Blazers. 

Bench production must be on point

During the regular season before the hiatus, the Grizzlies ranked in the top five in efficiency. The Memphis reserves bench ranks first in the NBA in field-goal percentage (.479) assists (12.1) and steals (4.1). The bench averaged 41.4 points per game before the league stoppage. 

Tyus Jones, a key member of the bench unit will be out of action due to knee soreness. Memphis will miss his leadership on the second unit. Jones is a great facilitator who knows how to take care of the ball. The Duke alum leads the NBA with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5.2. 

The Grizzlies will likely have to rely more on DeAnthony Melton to run the second unit in the absence of Jones. Ja Morant and Anderson might have to play heavy minutes with the bench as well. 

Jaren Jackson Jr. must control his fouling

Jackson Jr. is prone to foul trouble. The 6–11 forward fouled out in 8 of 54 contests during the regular season and in two of three scrimmages at the restart. The Michigan State alum averaged 16.9 points and shot nearly 40 percent from three in 28 minutes before the hiatus. Jackson must learn to defend without fouling because he is needed on the floor in order for the team to be successful — against the Blazers and in the other seeding games. During a recent media availability Zoom session, Jackson said, “I don’t think I am nearly at my potential level  —  definitely a lot of decision-making with or without the ball on offense, and defensively limiting fouls.” 

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Friday, July 1, 2020
3 p.m. CT Tip-Off
TV: FOX Sports Southeast
Radio: 92.9 FM ESPN

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Grizzlies’ 2020 Season Resumes

Posted By and on Fri, Jul 24, 2020 at 9:34 AM

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On March 11, 2020, the NBA suspended its season after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Now, more than four months later, 22 teams are in Orlando, Florida, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (Walt Disney World). All 22 teams have had mini training camp sessions and will participate in three inter-squad scrimmages before the remainder of the shortened "regular season" kicks off on July 30, closely followed by the playoffs.

All teams will be playing eight regular-season games before the playoffs. The Grizzlies will face the Philadelphia 76ers today (July 24) at 2:30 p.m. CT. The other two scrimmages will be against the Houston Rockets on July 26 at 7 p.m. CST and the Miami Heat on July 28 at 1 p.m. CST. The scrimmages will be shown live on Grizzlies.com with commentary from Pete Pranica and Rob Fischer. 

When the season was interrupted, The Grizzlies sat in the eighth spot in the West with a 32–33 record — 3.5 games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, and Sacramento Kings. 

Here’s the play-in scenario for the eighth seed. If the team in eighth place is more than four games ahead of the team in ninth place, the eighth-placed team qualifies for the playoff berth. If the team in ninth place is within four games, those two teams would compete in a play-in tournament for the eighth seed in the playoffs. The ninth-place team must win two games before the eighth-place team wins one to clinch the eighth playoff spot. 

The Grizzlies eight seeding games are as follows:

  • Friday, July 31  —  Trail Blazers, 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 2  —  Spurs, 3 p.m.
  • Monday, August 3  —  Pelicans, 5:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, August 5  —  Jazz, 1:30 p.m.
  • Friday, August 7  —  Thunder, 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 9  —  Raptors, 1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 11  —  Celtics, 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 13  —  Bucks, TBD


Here are five questions that face the Grizzlies as the NBA restarts:

1
. The Grizzlies roster makeup has changed since the start of the regular season, and since the hiatus. Do you think the new-look Grizzlies can succeed?

Aimee Steigemeyer: It will be the core group of players that put together wins before the hiatus who will be the deciding factors in whatever success the Grizzlies have going forward. Having all those key guys healthy when the season resumes will be a huge asset in the team’s favor. The new additions are like sprinkles on a cupcake  —  nice if you can get it but not critically necessary.

Sharon Brown: Yes, I believe it will lead to success. If Gorgui Dieng or Anthony Tolliver can go in to knock down shots or defend to give the starters a bit of rest then it will be beneficial for the team. But make no mistake about it, success will ultimately rely on all the players that are there. 

At the beginning of the season, Josh Jackson was in Southaven, playing for the Hustle, before he was called up to the main roster. Jackson had been performing well and was finding a groove before the season was suspended. In his last five games, the Kansas product averaged 16.6 points. 

2. Speaking of success, how will the season be viewed if the Grizzlies make a playoff run — or not?

Aimee: Given where this team was “supposed” to be, the season is already a success. But it would absolutely make it much sweeter to see them hold onto the eighth seed and try to make whatever kind of splash they can in the playoffs. I know that I am still eating crow for my comments in January about the playoffs not being a realistic goal for this team. I don’t have a problem admitting when I am wrong, and I will happily wear my clown mask and root for a playoff run. I don’t think you put an asterisk on this season either.

And if ever there were a year when a young and hungry team could be a dark horse threat in the postseason, it is this year and this team. If by some chance #GrzNxtGen manages to run through the Lakers in the first round, it will not be the craziest thing to happen in 2020.

Sharon: The 2019–2020 will be a success for the team whether they clinch the playoffs or not. Memphis was supposed to be at the bottom of the league and projected to win 20 to 23 games. This is a fun team that fans can be proud of for years to come. This season will be something the players can build upon and grow to eventually become a championship contender. 

3. According to a number of reports, the NBA informed teams that the 2019–20 NBA Awards (MVP, Rookie of Year, Sixth Man, Defensive Player, etc) will be based upon the regular season through the date the season was suspended on March 11. What are the chances the Grizzlies guard Ja Morant will win Rookie of the Year?

Aimee: I’d say damn near 100 percent. Morant should be the unanimous Rookie of the Year (ROY) and it’s not even close. I know the national media loves Zion Williamson, but it would be outright favoritism to consider him a ROY candidate having played less than two dozen games.

Sharon: Morant most definitely should be the Rookie of the Year and it should be a unanimous decision. Morant has put in the work and then some. He leads all qualified rookies in scoring (17.6), assists (6.9) and double-doubles (11). The three-time NBA Rookie of the Month for the Western Conference (October/November, December, January) is the only rookie this season to post a triple-double (with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists against the Washington Wizards in February). 

There’s more  —  the first-year guard also is Mr. Fourth Quarter. He ranks sixth in fourth-quarter scoring at 7.3 points. 

4. Besides Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., who will be the X-factor in the season restart?

Aimee: [Justise Winslow could be another piece that fits.] That would have been my answer to this question before the announcement of his hip injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Said injury is unfortunate, but if you take into account that no one really expected Winslow to play at all until next season, I don’t think this puts them in any worse shape.

Brandon Clarke and Grayson Allen being healthy and available will be significant factor in any success the Grizzlies achieve during the restart. I also hope that Coach Jenkins has paid attention to the campaign to #FreeJoshJackson, especially now that he’s spent some time under Tony Allen’s wing.

Sharon: Dillon Brooks is definitely an X-factor. This season the Grizzlies are 18–4 when he scores 20 or more points a game and are 4–15 when he scores in single digits. Memphis needs Brooks to ball out along with the other young core in order to stay on pace to clinch its first playoff berth since 2017. 

Also, the Grizzlies bench is a big key to victory and is ranked in the top five in efficiency. The Grizzlies' reserves average 41.4 points a game, which ranks sixth in the NBA. The bench ranks first among benches in field goal percentage (.479) assists (12.1) and steals (4.1). The hiatus was a blessing in disguise since Brandon Clarke and Grayson Allen will be healthy and back in action. 

5. Have your expectations for Memphis changed from the beginning of the 2019-2020 season through the hiatus and the season restart?

Aimee: Honestly, I will be happy just to watch some basketball again. That said, I hope to see them retain their position as the 8th seed. If they do, no one can say they didn’t earn it. (I’m looking at you, Pelicans Twitter)

Sharon: Of course. Many thought it would take years for this version of the Grizzlies to be successful. But somehow, the team found a way to win and are knocking on the door to the playoffs. The team collectively isn’t afraid to compete with any other team and has the mindset of proving everyone wrong. Jackson Jr. summed up that feeling back in February. He said, “Nobody really thought that we’d be in this position at this point. People just said to us, “Oh, you have time. Don’t worry about it! You’re young!” We kind of were just like, “We don’t care.” That’s how we play and how we are  —  we just don’t care.”

My apologies for doubting the team, Jaren. It won’t happen again. 

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Thursday, March 12, 2020

NBA Suspends Its Season

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2020 at 9:58 AM

The NBA announced it has suspended its season indefinitely in the wake of a Utah Jazz player who was positively diagnosed with COVID-19. It has been reported the player is Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert. 
Rudy Gobert - NBA.COM
  • NBA.com
  • Rudy Gobert

Statement from the NBA:

The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, tonight’s game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena.

The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to ESPN, five of the Jazz’s recent opponents that have been told to self-quarantine. The teams are the Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons.

Statement from the Grizzlies:

We fully respect and support the NBA’s decision to suspend all games in light of the impact of COVID-19. Measures taken to protect the health of our players, staff, and fans are the correct ones.

For all ticket buyers and fans, we are working through information as we receive it and will provide updates as soon as we have them available. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work through this together.

The Memphis Grizzlies flew to Portland on Wednesday and were set to play the Trailblazers tonight. 


Later Wednesday night, the NBA G-League announced that it was suspending its season, as well. 

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Monday, March 9, 2020

Jaren Jackson and Justice Winslow to Play Soon

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2020 at 5:57 PM

Jaren Jackson Jr.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.




Good news from the Memphis Grizzlies Monday afternoon regarding Jaren Jackson, Jr and Justice Winslow. The team announced Jackson and Winslow both are likely to return within the next week.

Jackson
has been sidelined since February 21st due to a knee injury and Winslow has not seen playing time with his new team since being traded. Winslow suffered a back injury while playing with the Miami Heat and has been out of action since January 8th.

Brandon Clarke suffered a right quadriceps strain on February 24 against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Grizzlies announced Clarke is progressing well in his recovery and is expected to return this season.

Jackson and Winslow are likely to return to action as soon as the Grizzlies' upcoming three-game road trip that begins Thursday in Portland against the Trailblazers, who are also vying for the 8th seed in the Western Conference.

With just over a month remaining in the regular season, Memphis holds a four-game lead over the ninth-place Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans.


New Locker Room Procedures
The NBA will take active precautionary measures against the coronavirus, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. He reported that the NBA will prohibit non-essential personnel from entering team locker rooms, including media. The league will reportedly keep media members at a six-to-eight feet distance from players.

Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) issued a joint statement on Monday: 

“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms, and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting."

Statement from the Memphis Grizzlies regarding the new directive:

"This will go into effect starting with our game tomorrow against Orlando, and we will have one interview room available for each team's media availability starting with shootaround. The media dining room located inside the Don Poier Media Center will now be turned into a mixed-use press conference/dining room on a consistent basis for Memphis Grizzlies media availabilities (practices, shootarounds, pre and postgame). For tomorrow's shootaround, please gather in the media dining room and we will take interview requests from this location. The Memphis Grizzlies communications team will be happy to show credentialed media the location of the visiting team's interview room or answer any further questions."

I understand why the NBA is taking these precautions, but I wonder about others who have access to the players when they are not around their team. Will teams limit what players do outside of work? Will the NBA limit family members or business partners? Will the players and essential personnel be quarantined?

There are so many questions that need to be answered. But it is understandable why the NBA is being proactive in this situation.

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Sunday, March 8, 2020

Grizzlies Topple Hawks, 118-110

Posted By on Sun, Mar 8, 2020 at 9:53 PM

The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Atlanta Hawks 118–110 Saturday night in Memphis to keep a 3.5 game lead for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. It was the second time Memphis defeated the Hawks this week. On Monday in Atlanta, the Grizzlies throttled the Hawks by 39 points and held them to 88 points. 

Memphis has won 15 of its last 18 home games and improved to 18–14 this season at FedExForum. With the win, the Grizzlies moved back to .500 (32–32). 

Jonas Valanciunas posted his 32nd double-double of the season as he led the way for Memphis with 27 points, 17 rebounds, and three blocks while going 10-of-13 from the field. 

Ja Morant added 24 points (8–12 FG), five rebounds, and six assists while shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from the 3-point line, tying a career-best for threes made.


Josh Jackson continues to impress off the bench. He finished with 17 points, three assists, and four rebounds in 22 minutes. Taylor Jenkins is pleased with Jackson’s progress since he was called up from the Hustle, the Grizzlies G-League affiliate. Jenkins said after the game: “I think he has integrated himself very nicely. Credit to him — credit to his teammates. We have been encouraging our guys to continue and try to find a way to attack as a team and be more physical.” 

Jenkins added, “I feel like he was really embraced that. Playmaking at times, whether it’s pick-and-roll or fast-rate drive-and-kicks, I think he is doing a great job at that and just playing Grizzlies basketball offensively. Defensively, he is engaging in a lot of different matchups, guarding wings and guarding point guards. I think his on-ball defense has been solid and he has been using his length in a great fashion. He has a great ability to be in good rotations, help us on the boards, and knock rebounds out. I think he is contributing in a winning way.”

In addition to Valanciunas and Morant, all five starters scored in double figures for the first time since Jan. 29th against the New York Knicks. Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton added 13 points apiece while Kyle Anderson chipped in 12 points, going 5-of-7 from the field, including 2-of-3 from deep. 

First-year guard and two way player John Konchar continues to impress with his play. Konchar grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in 14 minutes of play off the bench. 

The Other Guys
John Collins led the Hawks with 27 points and eight rebounds, plus two steals. Trae Young added 16 points while going 4-of-16 from the field. Young missed the previous Hawks game due to flu-like symptoms. 

Kevin Huerter added 11 points, six assists, and five rebounds while knocking down 3-of-6 from three. As a reserve, Jeff Teague chipped in 10 points, three assists, and two rebounds in 20 minutes as the Hawks dropped to 19–46 on the year. 


Memphis said goodbye to Vince Carter
Carter played three seasons with the Grizzlies before eventually signing with the Hawks. He was given a standing ovation during his last visit to Memphis. Carter finished with five points and two rebounds. 

Up Next

The Grizzlies will host the Orlando Magic in Memphis on Tuesday, March 10 at 7 pm at FedExForum.

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Friday, March 6, 2020

Real Talk: Ja Morant Should Be the Unanimous Rookie of the Year

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2020 at 11:52 AM


A combination of recency bias and media-fueled hype have derailed the conversation regarding the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year award. Ever since late January when he made his NBA debut, there has been talk amongst media about New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson being in contention for Rookie of the Year, despite being sidelined the majority of the season.

This chatter is growing increasingly loud and hard to ignore, hence why I am writing this today. All this for a player who has played in only 17 games this season, and who would at most play 37 games — provided he plays every game left in the season.

Ja Morant
  • Ja Morant


Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have had the two best rookies in the league all season long in Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke. Clarke will likely remain unacknowledged, but Morant’s phenomenal play has been impossible to ignore. Morant has been the Rookie of the Year front-runner for most of the season, and for good reason. 

Even though it was widely predicted they would be hot garbage this season, the Memphis Grizzlies are light years ahead in their rebuilding process. In fact, the team that many predicted would have the worst record in the league has been sitting comfortably in the 8th seed since before Williamson played a single minute of regular season basketball. 

Moreover, the Rookie of the Year award is meant to spotlight achievement across the entire season. This would be impossible for a player who will have played less than half the season; it’s small-sample-size theater at best. It is unfortunate that Williamson’s rookie season has been marred by injury, but the fact remains that it has. 

There have only been four instances in league history of a rookie of the year recipient playing less than 60 games, and two of those were during lockout seasons: 

Kyrie Irving – 51 games - 2011-12 

Vince Carter – 50 games – 1998-99 

Patrick Ewing – 50 games – 1985-86 

Terry Dischinger – 57 games - 1962-63 

 

There is zero precedent for a player who has played as few games as Williamson has to be considered for Rookie of the Year, and now is not the time to start.

For the record, Morant isn't stressing about this in the slightest. Recently, before the game against the Atlanta Hawks, Morant said, “I honestly don’t care about Rookie of the Year. They can give that to who they want.” The first year guard said he's focused on getting the Grizzlies to the playoffs.


Morant has led a lottery team into playoff contention, no small feat for the first season of a rebuild. There has not been a player so dynamic and impactful so early in his career in a long time, and acknowledging Morant’s skill does not detract from Williamson in any way.  

Would this be a different conversation if Williamson had played since the beginning of the season? Possibly. But that isn’t how the season has gone, and there is no sense in pretending a comparison between Morant and Williamson would be equitable or accurate. 

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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Beatdown in Brooklyn

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 10:10 AM

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The Memphis Grizzlies have won three straight games — beating the Lakers by 17 last Saturday, and thumping their last two opponents by 39 points each. On Monday, Memphis defeated the Atlanta Hawks 127–88 and had a similarly decisive victory over the Brooklyn Nets 118–79 on Wednesday.

In those three games, the Grizzlies have held opponents under 90 points. No NBA team has done that since the Utah Jazz did it back in March 2018. After these massive shellackings, like Jay-Z, this young team is saying, ‘Time to separate the pros from the cons, the platinum from the bronze  — that butter-soft shit from that leather on the Fonz.”

This team is not messing around. 


Memphis has improved to 31–31 on the season. 


Grizzlies bench
In the last two games, the Grizzlies bench has scored 133 points (72 vs Hawks, 61 vs Nets). Wednesday night, Josh Jackson led the way with 19 points and two steals as a reserve while going 4 of 9 from three and he’s feeling "pretty damn good" right about now. 


Meanwhile, reserve point guard Tyus Jones added 18 points, six assists, and five rebounds off of 6-of-13 shooting and 5-of-6 from the 3-point line (career high) in 21 minutes of play. The Grizzlies connected on a season-high-tying 20 three-pointers.

Ja Morant chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 16 rebounds, plus nine points and two assists. Dillon Brooks added 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, and Kyle Anderson was also in double figures, with 12 points and five rebounds. 

Taurean Prince led the Nets with 15 points and five rebounds on 6-of-19 shooting, as the Nets dropped to 27–34 on the season. Joe Harris added 13 points, eight rebounds and two steals in 29 minutes. Caris LeVert totaled 14 points, six assists and four rebounds, while White Station grad Chris Chiozza chipped in with 14 points and three rebounds as a reserve. 

Up Next
The Grizzlies look to continue the winning streak as they visit the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. 

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Grizzlies Trounce Lakers, Snap 5-Game Losing Streak

Posted By on Sun, Mar 1, 2020 at 3:07 PM

via Memphis Grizzlies Twitter
  • via Memphis Grizzlies Twitter

Ja Morant led the Memphis Grizzlies into battle against the Los Angeles Lakers and dealt the Lakers their first road loss to a Western Conference team this season. In their 105-88 victory, the Grizzlies exhibited some lockdown defense and held the Lakers to their season-lowest scoring. Saturday night’s game snapped both a five-game Memphis losing streak and a seven-game Los Angeles winning streak.


Beatdown on Beale Street
This was a nice preview for what a potential first-round playoff series might look like. While still missing some key players due to injury, the shorthanded Grizzlies squad showed no fear as they put their collective foot on their opponent's neck and didn’t let up. It wasn’t a true wire-to-wire win, but the largest lead the Lakers held was two points in the first quarter, while the Grizzlies led by as much as 22. 


It was a much-needed win for a team that has been in a post-All-Star break slump and a powerful reminder of who the rightful Rookie of the Year should be. Morant had a game-high 27 points and was one of three Memphis starters to finish with 20+ points.

By the Numbers

Ja Morant: 27 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds.  

Dillon Brooks: 24 points 

Jonas Valanciunas: 22 points, 20 rebounds

Highlights and History-Making
Jonas Valanciunas registered his 29th double-double of the season. He also had a career-high 25 rebounds last night against Sacramento and became the first player in franchise history to grab at least 20 rebounds in consecutive games.


Morant leads all rookies in double-doubles and is the only rookie this season to achieve a triple-double. Last night was Morant's 11th double-double of the season with 27 points and 14 assists to go with six rebounds. He also became the second rookie in NBA history (Oscar Robertson) to record at least 27 points and 14 assists in a game against the Lakers.


Morant also gave a good-natured, post-game shoutout to a twitter user whose comment he says spurred on his phenomenal effort.


It was briefly the John Konchar show. The shortened roster allowed the two-way guard who has spent most of the season with the Memphis Hustle a chance to show out in his 10th career NBA game. Konchar finished the night with 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block on 2-2 shooting, over 12:25 total playing time.  

 


GrzNxtGen = 1st Team all-defense? The Grizzlies held the Lakers to a season-low 88 points, and Lebron James and Anthony Davis to 19 points and 15 points respectively. 

Last night's win put the Grizzlies 2.5 games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans for the 8th seed in the West.

Who Got Next?

The Grizzlies hit the road again for the next three games.
They will face off against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, March 2nd. Tip-off is at 6:30 PM CST

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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Grizzlies Drop Fifth Straight Game

Posted By on Sat, Feb 29, 2020 at 6:35 PM

On Friday night, before a sell-out crowd, the Memphis Grizzlies fell to the Sacramento Kings, 104–101. Memphis has now lost five straight games and hasn’t won since February 12 (against the Portland Trail Blazers before the All-Star Break).

The Grizzlies still hold a slim lead for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, as they fell to 28–31. The team has struggled without Jaren Jackson, Jr. (knee injury) and Brandon Clarke (hip).

And yet, with five consecutive losses, Coach Taylor Jenkins is still pleased with his team’s effort, especially in the final period. Jenkins said after the game, “Very proud of our guys. The way that we fought in that fourth quarter to give ourselves a chance to win a ballgame.” 

He added, “I hit them after the game and said, ‘We have to play like that from the start of the game.’ I thought we came out playing pretty well in that first quarter, definitely could have played a whole lot better, but that second and third quarter we kind of just had a little let-down there. But that fourth quarter, just the intensity that they played with  —  the fight, the grit  —  that’s what we’re going to need right now.”

“The guys are finding a way,” Jenkins continued. “Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to a win tonight  —  credit to the Kings. We threw a couple [of ] different things at them. They just made the right plays at the right time. Great passes to the roller, to shooters. They made the shots that they needed. We fell short a little bit with a couple of shots there in the fourth quarter and throughout the game, but the resolve and the competitiveness from our guys were great tonight.”

Dillon Brooks led Memphis with a season-high 32 points, before fouling out late in the fourth after playing nearly 40 minutes. Ja Morant added 20 points and 11 assists to mark his 10th double-double of the season. No other rookie in the league has more than five double-doubles of the season, according to Grizzlies PR.

Morant talked about how the team is processing the losing streak: “I feel like a lot of people are panicking; not us though  —  we know there are going to be bumps in the road. We know we’re going to face adversity. We’re just going to continue, keep our head high, keep positive energy, and just try to go out and get something good out of it. We’ve learned a lot from the games after the break, playing 48 minutes, having to compete, and knowing we have a target on our back.”

Josh Jackson led the Grizzlies’ reserves with nine points, three rebounds, and three assists. Jenkins spoke about Jackson's contribution to the team: "He’s [Jackson] getting better every single day. Continuing to find his comfort zone. As we’ve said, he just has to keep making an impact on the defensive end shooting the three, attacking downhill.

Jenkins added, "He’s playing with force on the offensive end, and he’s playing actively on the defensive end. That’s what we expect out of him. So the more he does that, obviously, for any of our guys, you make an impact on both ends that is winning basketball, you obviously earn more opportunities.”

The Other Guys

De’Aaron Fox led the Sacramento with 25 points, five assists, and four rebounds on 10-of-19 shooting, as the Kings moved to 25–34 on the season. Harry Giles III chipped in 16 points, five rebounds, and two assists on 8-of-14 shooting. Nemanja Bjelica posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Buddy Hield added a bench-high 14 points to go with four rebounds and two assists. 

HBCU Night and Memphis Legend Zach Randolph Returned Home

The Grizzlies honored HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) throughout the night. 

"50 for the City," Mr. Zach Randolph — respectfully known as ZBo — returned to Memphis for the first time since his retirement announcement in December. Randolph and former Grizzlies player Tony Allen will be ambassadors for the Grizzlies. There hasn't been a formal announcement by the team regarding the details.


Up Next
The Grizzlies have to get over the Kings game quickly,  because Saturday the team is back in action against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers at FedExForum. And this one won't be easy. Tip-off is at 7 pm CST.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

How Will Injuries Affect the Grizzlies' Playoff Push?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 3:18 PM

The injury bug has hit the Memphis Grizzlies. First, Jaren Jackson Jr. went down against the Los Angeles Lakers with a knee injury, and then Brandon Clarke, who replaced Jackson in the starting lineup, went down with a hip injury against the Clippers after just four minutes of play on Monday night at Staples Center. Both are to be re-evaluated in two weeks. How will these injuries affect the Grizzlies’ playoff chances? It's anyone's guess.

Jaren Jackson Jr. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.

The Grizzlies have lost three in a row and will be without Jackson and Clarke from seven to 10 games, or possibly longer, depending on the healing process. It doesn't help that Dillon Brooks and Jonas Valanciunas have been in a funk lately, averaging a combined 13.66 points over the last three games. With Jackson and Clarke out, the Grizzlies can’t win when Brooks and Valanciunas aren’t playing well. And rookie phenom Ja Morant can’t carry the load alone if the Grizzlies want to continue to make a push for the playoffs.

What will the starting lineup look like without Jackson Jr. or Clarke? 

Brandon Clarke - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Brandon Clarke

Josh Jackson more than likely will become a starter, since he has been more comfortable playing as of late. He is averaging 15 points over the last three games and has been helping when the Grizzlies' offense has gone stagnant. Gorgiu Dieng is another player who may get starter minutes. In the past two games, Dieng has averaged a double-double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

How will Coach Taylor Jenkins tweak it? He will certainly have to make adjustments. And Morant really might have to put the team on his back and play out of his mind until Jackson and Clarke return. And the now-depleted bench has to continue its strong play.

Memphis still has a hold on the eighth spot in the Western Conference at 28–29 on the season, three games in front of the Portland Trail Blazers, and 3.5 games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs.

Adjustments will have to come quick, starting tonight in Houston against the Rockets, who will have Russell Westbrook available to play. Westbrook hasn’t played in either game against Memphis this season. The series is tied 1–1.

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Trial by Fire: Can the Grizzlies Survive Without Jaren Jackson Jr.?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 24, 2020 at 12:53 PM

As the run-up to the end of the season approaches and the battle for the 8th seed in the West continues to heat up, the very last thing the Memphis Grizzlies needed was an injury sidelining one of their starters. But the injury bug is fickle, and it seems like no team is ever truly safe from its clutches. 


Jaren Jackson Jr.’s sprained knee and subsequent absence from the court are no doubt going to be problematic for the Grizzlies. However, it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Pushing through and continuing to stack wins without one of its best players will be a unique learning experience for the young squad, if nothing else.  

 

In the meantime, prepare for the inevitable wacky lineups that Coach Jenkins will employ to fill the nearly 7-foot void. Expect to see increased usage for both Brandon Clarke and Gorgui Dieng during Jackson Jr.’s absence. In addition to needing increased production from its bench unit, the Grizzlies will also need Jonas Valanciunas to be at the very top of his game. 

Brandon Clarke posterizes Ian Mahinmi - VIA MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES TWITTER
  • via Memphis Grizzlies twitter
  • Brandon Clarke posterizes Ian Mahinmi

It feels weird to be saying this in the first year of a rebuild, but every game from now until the end of the regular season counts if the Grizzlies want maintain their status as the 8th seed. The Portland Trail Blazers and the New Orleans Pelicans are staring down the same stretch of games with the intention of eliminating Memphis from playoff contention.

A Brief Rant: YGTMYFT
Now, let’s talk about free throws. Did someone decide that the Grizzlies just aren’t making them anymore and I missed a memo?


In last Friday’s match up against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Grizzlies shot an abysmal 51.6% from the charity stripe. In a game that the Grizzlies lost by 12 points, leaving those extra 15 points worth of free throws on the floor really stings.

If I am Coach Jenkins, every member of the team would be shooting at least 100 free throws during the next practice. 

This should be the easiest shot on the floor, one that any player can practice ad infinitum. The atmosphere in each arena may change, but fundamentally the process of shooting (and making) free throws does not. Scoring with the clock stopped is a valuable skill for players to utilize.  


If ever there was a hill I was willing to die on, this is the one.
You’ve. Got. To. Make. Your. Free. Throws.


Moving along...


Who Got Next? 
The Grizzlies will once again be playing in Staples Center tonight as they face off against Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers. Tip-off is at 9:30 pm CST, so be sure to grab one or more of your favorite caffeinated beverages beforehand.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

In Shy's Corner: These Grizzlies Exude Confidence

Posted By on Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 12:15 PM

One thing that can be said about the Memphis Grizzlies is that the young team ‘ain’t never scared' to compete with any team in the league. This bunch has told the entire NBA: “We ready, (we ready) … For y’all.”

Star rookie Ja Morant always exhibits with the confidence of David against Goliath: “Whoever I’m going against put on their shoes the same way I do, there is nothing I should be afraid of.”

Morant and his teammates truly believe they can compete against any team in the league — and it's showing. The team has a chip on its shoulder and is proving doubters wrong.

After a recent win against the Washington Wizards, Morant talked about the mentality of the team. He said, “It feels like we’re all just preaching the same thing. We have this mentality to just fight to the end, go out and compete. At the end, just try to get a win.”

In that interview, the three-time NBA Rookie of the Month took a shot at the haters for doubting the Grizzlies, “What were we supposed to win, 26 games this year? I think we just passed that. Appreciate you all who bet against us,” the Murray State alum said. 

The South Carolina native can back up his talk with his play on the court. In his first NBA season, Morant is averaging 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 7.1 assists in 29 minutes. He’s also Mr. Fourth quarter; Morant is ranked fourth in the league in fourth-quarter scoring with an average of 7.6 points. 

The 20-year-old is also the front-runner for the 2020 Rookie of the Year Award.

The other half of the dynamic duo, Jaren Jackson, Jr., has the same attitude as Morant. Jackson sat down with HoopsHype during All Star Weekend and shared his thoughts on proving everyone wrong.

The Michigan State alum said, “It was definitely motivating, because nobody really thought that we’d be in this position at this point. People just said to us, “Oh, you have time. Don’t worry about it! You’re young!” We kind of were just like, “We don’t care.” That’s how we play and how we are — we just don’t care.”

Jackson continued, “When we go out there, you have to put five on the court, just like we have to put five on the court. It don’t matter if you’re young or old. There’s only one basketball. You have to literally beat us down if you want to win this game against us, because we like to compete. We’ll have off nights, for sure. But at the end of the day, we’re going to play hard.”

Jackson also has the receipts to back up his talk. In his sophomore season, his TS% (true shooting percentage) is an exceptional 59 percent. Jackson is averaging 17.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, with 1.7 blocks (ranked 9th) per game in 28.1 minutes. 

Another young Grizz, Dillon Brooks, feels the same way as his teammates. (“Dillon Brooks always talks shit,” said one of my colleagues who covers an opposing Western Conference team.)

So it wasn’t surprising Brooks was the one who called out former Grizzlies asset Andre Iguodala near the trade deadline. According to the Commercial Appeal’s Mark Giannotto, Brooks said, “A guy that’s on our team doesn’t want to be on our team. I can’t wait til we find a way to trade him so we can play him and show him what really Memphis is about.”

Brooks got support for his remarks from his teammates and Grizzlies fans. Eventually, Iggy was traded in a deal to the Miami Heat, along with Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill. The Grizzlies ended up with Justise Winslow, Gorgui Dieng, and Jordan Bell when the dust settled. 

Brooks had some parting shots for Iggy after the trades were finalized. 

Brooks is having a career year with 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. The third-year guard only played 18 games last season due to injury, after playing all 82 games in his rookie season. Memphis is 17–1 when Brooks scores 20 or more points.

The Grizzlies are 28–26, two games above .500, and have a hold on the eight seed in the Western Conference, with a five-game lead in the loss column on Portland. 

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