With the trade deadline looming and the All-Star break quickly approaching, it is time for a (little after) mid-season check in with our hometown NBA team. Though this season has not gone as originally planned there have been some bright spots and I want to highlight those in addition to calling out some drastic failures in personnel. Each player is graded based on their performance so far this season. The grade is relative to what is expected of them on an individual basis taking into consideration contract, years of service, etc. Also I snuck in a few comments based on the “eye test”. Hey, if they can do that over at The Ringer, why can’t I?! Each player grade comes complete with current per game averages at time of publishing.
Marc Gasol: 18p/8/4a
Without his floor general Mike Conley, Marc has done everything in his power to keep the team afloat. After a rocky start and the firing of coach David Fizdale, which many blamed Marc for, he has assumed the role of defacto leader in the post for the team. He is averaging right in line with his career minutes and is actually grabbing more boards and points than his career averages this season. His three point shooting has taken a 5% dip this year while putting up an extra half shot per game, likely in an attempt to compensate for the lack of firepower elsewhere on the roster. While he might be past his All-Star seasons, he still has much value to add to the team and franchise for the remainder of his contract.
Jarell Martin: 6p/3.5r/.5a
Half of the games where he scored in double figures came in the month of January. Throughout his career, he hasn’t lived up to the hype of being a first round draft pick (25th) but the forward out of LSU has simply been ok this season. He had one breakout game vs the Lakers in late December where he went for 20p/8r on 80% shooting, and that is his only game above 20 points this season. He also grabs less than 5 boards in 70% of games as well. Right now I’m pretty lukewarm on Jarell. However, he has shown much improvement over his previous seasons and has lost some weight and now is showcasing his athleticism a little more. Maybe the PT the rest of this season will bring out something we don’t expect.
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Brandan Wright: 5p/3.5/.5a
I almost considered not even giving Brandan a grade because he has missed so much time this season due to injury. Not much to report on his veteran, as he has only started one game and only played over 20 minutes three times this season. When he is playing, he is really fun to watch and serves as an awesome rim protector and records multiple blocks nearly half the time he makes an appearance. He is now 30 years old and on the last year of a contract, and likely his last year in Memphis, as guys like Ivan Rabb and Deyonta Davis are the way of the future in the bluff city front court.
Naw, this guy I really can’t give a grade. We aren’t even sure if he is hurt at this point or just sitting out so the Grizz can collect insurance on his contract. Though I will say, while he was playing this year, I was pleasantly surprised. However, I’m not holding my breath for the future.
Andrew Harrison: 7.5p/2r/2.5a
I don’t think another player has come through this franchise that I have wanted to succeed as much as I want Andy Harrison to succeed. I don’t know him on a personal level, but he seems like such a good hard working kid that you have to pull for him. In his second year in the league, he has shown large improvements in field goal shooting and is scoring a point and a half more per game this season than his rookie season. Sometimes he plays excellent defense with his long point guard frame (6’6”), and other times he just dribbles into a corner or unnecessarily runs down the shot clock. I know he will never be more than a backup PG, but I can’t give up on him just yet.
James Ennis III 7p/3.5/1a
While there have been some bright spots on the roster this season, Ennis is not one of them. Per 36 minutes, he is one of the lowest scoring guys on the team. Also, you cannot say that he is not getting play time, because he sits at fourth on the team in that category. His defense has looked lackluster at best and there has been no sign of the James Ennis that occasionally hindered Kawhi Leonard during the NBA playoffs last year. His PER (player efficiency) puts him as a barely salvagable player. He is on the last year of a $6mm deal and I don’t see where there could possibly be a roster spot for him next year, especially if Brooks keeps up his level of play and Chandler Parsons ever returns (lol).
Deyonta Davis 5p/3.5r/.5a
His numbers may not show it yet, but as his mpg increase, so does the excitement around DD. The second year center out of Michigan State has given us a glimpse into the future and made us smile. As of now, he can’t shoot from any type of range, but when most of your points come within an arm’s reach of the basket you don’t have to. He averages 12mpg but I can only see that trending up as the season goes along and the coaching staff (hopefully) pulls back on Marc’s minutes. This kid has incredible athleticism and is a favorite target of the guards on alley-oop plays ala DeAndre Jordan. He can protect the rim with his 6’11” frame and perhaps most importantly, Marc vouches for him https://clutchpoints.com/marc-gasol-believes-deyonta-davis-can-one-best-big-men-nba/, so what else do you need?
Ben McLemore 7p/2r/1a
This shooting guard we picked up during the “second draft” The BarnChief’s favorite concept”. For a guy we signed to make threes, he is not doing very well, averaging just 30% on around three attempts per game. To his defense he has battled injuries the past few seasons and has brought that trend here to Memphis as well. With Wayne Seldon back from injury, McLemore is really struggling to get minutes as he sits at tenth in minutes played for the Grizz this season.The bummer is we are paying him over $5mm each year through the end of next season.
Tyreke Evans 19p/5r/5a
Who would have thought that Tyreke Evans would be the most exciting player on the Grizzlies roster this year? By far he has been the MVP of the team. We are seeing “Rookie Reke” incarnate as he is averaging the most points since his initial NBA campaign. He is on a $3.2mm/1 year contract with the Grizz largely due to the fact that he missed the majority of the past few seasons due to a myriad of injuries, most notably a right knee injury that required surgery in October 2016. The Grizz were able to sign him as a good value this past offseason because he has not played more than 40 games since the 2014-2015 season. It is unfortunate that the Grizz will be forced to trade him this season to continue the tanking, but I would love to see him back in a Memphis jersey again as he is 28 now and barring health issues would be an excellent 6th man for several more years.
Wayne Seldon Jr. 7p/1r/1.5a
After Seldon’s showing in the NBA Summer league in 2017, where he received all second team honors, there was much hype over this young returning player. He sat most of the beginning of the season with a quad injury but recently has started several games for the team. We only have a small sample size to compare his numbers to this season, but he has given us hope to be optimistic. He has extreme athleticism and spunk, even if it gets him ejected. Per 36 minutes he is scoring 16 points while shooting 35% from behind the arc. He is certainly worth the $1.5mm that the team is paying him through next season.
Mario Chalmers 8p/3r/3a
Womp womp wompppp… Mario has been a disappointment this season. I was surprised that he is averaging almost 8 ppg, but then realized he is achieving that while shooting 37% from the field and 27% from three. He dishes out three assists per game, which is low compared to the 22 minutes that he is playing per game at the point. When he is in it seems like the flow of the game is out of whack and many possessions with him at the helm end with him driving to the rim and hopelessly flailing about trying to draw a foul. When signing him this year, we were hoping to get a good version of 2015-2016 Mario, but it appears that the year sitting out of the league didn’t help him too much.
Dillon Brooks 8p/3r/1a
I honestly did not have an expectation set in mind for Dillon at the beginning of the year, but due to injuries, he has been given a huge chance to make a name for himself in the Beale Street Blue. He has taken this opportunity and run far with it, giving us some faith in the front office. Brooks was drafted in the second round as the 45th overall pick in the 2017 draft out of the University of Oregon. He is primarily a 3 and D guy who some think could possibly help fill the shoes of former Grizz defensive icon Tony Allen. Brooks has already had a chance to guard several All-Star caliber players and has done relatively well for himself. In addition, he leads the team in 3p% among players who have significant minutes. While he may never become an All-Star or number one player, he is so far doing everything that is expected of him and more. Also, he has been selected to play in the Rising Star Challenge during All-Star weekend in LA.
Ivan Rabb 4p/2r/1a
This rookie has not even logged 100 minutes at the top level, but I am very excited about him. I was fortunate enough to see him play in his G-League debut earlier in the season. He looked different than the other guys out there. He certainly has the built to be a solid post player once he puts on a little more muscle. He has yet to attempt a three pointer, but he has a nice stroke with a extremely high shooting percentage on his young season. With the 35th pick I think the Grizz got themselves a steal and am looking forward to what this kid will do for the franchise.
JaMychal Green 10p/7r/1a
After signing a fresh contract this summer, Green started off the season pretty slow. But overall, he has managed to score in double figures for half of his appearances. To be honest, if he keeps averaging what he is now, then he is doing exactly what he is being paid to do from a dollars standpoint. Unfortunately, the Grizz were wanting him to be a 4th option on the starting unit, and that is not the role he can play if we are going to be a highly competitive team. He really needs to be able to nail down that corner three, but currently is only hitting 30% of those shots while 40% of his attempts are coming from there. Maybe the rest of the season he will step up and continue to grow into a role as a leader for the younger guys on the team.
Not graded: Kobi Simmons, Myke Henry
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