The Barn’s WAY-TOO-EARLY-TO-TELL Grizz Preseason Takes

What’s that you say? *cups ear* The Grizzlies of Memphis are playing regulation basketball again?  In their preseason opener, the Memphis Grizzlies fell to the Houston Rockets 131-115 on Tuesday night at the Legacy Arena at The BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama.

Never fear, Grizz Nation, the Barn is here to give you fellow basketball-starved enthusiasts way-too-early nuggets of expectation from the ONE game played thus far.

Does Mike Conley finally look healthy?

Ten-year Grizz vet PG Mike Conley finished the first preseason game with 16-2-2 shooting nearly 50% from the field in 21 minutes of action (but only 1-6 from 3),  coming off season-ending surgery to smooth a small bone intrusion in his left heel.  Not bad, but how about the eye test?  Well, I guess he seemed back to form.  He ran up and down the court as expected, shot open shots as expected, engaged in that glorious pick-and-roll and two-man game with longtime teammate Marc Gasol as expected, and displayed his patented hesi dribbles and speed-changes galore as expected.

So I guess Mike seems healthy.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it?  Mike always seems healthy, but in reality, his foot is aching in knifing pain that he plays through, and the fans are none the wiser.  Typically the pain would affect his production, but preseason is too early to tell if the real Mike Conley is indeed back in the building.

It was damned good to see moments like this again, though:

All we can do is hope our conductor is ready to lead the symphony again.  And we’ll soon be able to tell when the season begins in earnest.

But we REALLY want to know about Jaren Jackson, Jr.

In the first game of Jaren Jackson, Jr’s career, the poor 19-year old rookie was switched multiple times onto CP3 and The Beard, and you could see, even on the terrible Reddit stream broadcast (oops did I type that out loud?), the two Rockets All-Stars flashed the very epitome of this GIF in their eyes:

Jimmy Butler GIF

Just like that, Triple J was turned into a triple order of BBQ chicken, as Harden and Paul feasted on his inexperience, drawing three-point fouls, and, in some instances, creating 4-pt plays.

Outside of these moments and JJJ getting a little lost in the motion of the Rockets’ time-tested pick-and-roll and spread offense, the rook looked good.  He finished a perfect 6-6 from the field, showed his range, and was active all over the floor.

BIRMINGHAM, AL - OCTOBER 2: Dillion Brooks #24 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots the ball against the Houston Rockets during a pre-season game on October 2, 2018 at Legacy Arena at The BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama. (Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Photo: Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

But what about Dillon Brooks?

Dilly Buckets looked, without pulling a punch, pretty bad in the first game, going 1-6, and getting to the rim but with no way to finish and no outlet pass.  And then, out of nowhere like a ghostly premonition, this tweet dropped into our timelines:

Akin to the Matt Barnes/Kobe-flinch new angle unleashed on #NBATwitter yesterday, my world and thought process as to Brooks was permanently altered.  No longer can I occupy a world in which Brooks is the up-and-coming starting SG that the Grizz have long needed.  Instead, I can’t stop dwelling on: will Brooks peak as a fringe rotation player that is ultimately replaced entirely?  I now feel like Ellen Page in INCEPTION right after DiCaprio shows her that she can create and alter the dreamscape, and like the rest of that movie, I’m left more confused than confident.

Parting thoughts and next man up:

  • Kyle Anderson demonstrated his Swiss-army game with a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 2-for-3 from the free throw line, scoring 10 points in just over 10 minutes.  He really does need the ball in his hands to be effective though.
  • Chandler Parsons‘ put his new patented bionic knees courtesy of German engineering to work, playing nearly 20 minutes, scoring 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting, which included going 2-for-3 from three-point range and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.  Chandler also had a nifty cut to the rim and played solid perimeter defense on players that are notably difficult to defend out there in no-man’s land (see JJJ’s section).

The short answer to any concerns and/or positives is: this is just preseason.  Good or bad aspects of the players’ games are not yet trends.  But damn it was good to see basketball again.

The Grizzlies will return to FedExForum for the preseason home opener against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, October 5. Tune into Fox Sports Southeast or listen on 92.9 FM ESPN to follow the action.


Follow me @TheBarnChief and for other MEMPHIS content, check out the rest of The BarnBurner HERE.

[banner image: Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images]

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