Each week I’m coming at you with 4 items that I will be keeping an eye on and recapping the following week. As a hoop head I’m always watching the “game within the game”, and this gives me a chance to share my viewpoints with you.
A Check-in On Last Week’s “4 Things”
Will Kyle Anderson find his flow?
The Grizzlies largest free agent signing of the summer, Kyle Anderson, started off the season slow – pun intended. He came off the bench for JB Bickerstaff in the first three games until Chandler Parsons aggravated his knee(s), providing a path for Anderson to get into the starting lineup. Through the first three games of the season, Anderson was averaging 20 minutes of run and was producing 4p/3r/2s per game. He did not make a single three point shot and was only shooting 35% from the field overall.
Kyle with another steal. Now I’m seeing those intangibles we’ve been hearing about!
— The BarnBurner (@The_BarnBurner) October 31, 2018
Once he fell into that starters role, did things change? Well, not from a box score perspective, but I am quickly realizing why he is a guy that Chris Wallace was so excited to sign. He really is not a guy that is going to put points on the board for you consistently, but he fits in very well with this updated roster who have more scoring options that previous Grizzlies teams. Over the past 5 games, Anderson is averaging 27 mpg and 4.8 points. However, over that time frame he is averaging 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and over a steal per game. Against Washington he amassed 4 steals, and played a pivotal role in slowing down the Wizard’s offensive attack in the third quarter.
Having Anderson on the roster is helpful for Bickerstaff because Anderson is an unselfish guy who will find a way to help the Grizzlies win. As long as the core of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Garrett Temple continue to carry the offensive burden – they account for almost half of the team’s points – Anderson can continue to contribute in the non-sexy ways that he is known for.
Can Jaren Jackson Jr. stay out of foul trouble?
The short answer to this question is no. At least not yet. Through his first 8 games, Jackson has earned four or more fouls in six of those appearances. Despite starting 6 games, Jaren has only played over 25 minutes four times.
The good news is that fouls seem to be one of the few weaknesses in his game. Jackson makes offense look smooth and effortless. Going into Monday night’s game at Golden State, he is sixth in minutes played and fifth in points scored, so it appears there is a direct correlation between those two categories – who would have thought?! His game around the rim is beautiful. Jackson can finish with either hand and is shooting over 75% at the rim and near 50% from 3 to 20 feet per basketball-reference.
Merely a 19 year old sealing out and getting deep position on a 2x All-Defense center
JJJ 1️⃣ Gobert 0️⃣ pic.twitter.com/VVUf49u6L9
— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) November 3, 2018
His ball handling is a lesser touted skill that I have been highly impressed with. In the clip below he effortlessly takes defending DPOTY Rudy Gobert and makes him look like he is stuck in sand. You can count on one hand the number of guys in the league who, at his height, are capable of such an attack.
I understand that we strayed from the initial question, but it’s hard not to get extremely excited about this young gun. To be fair, Jackson has had his share of phantom fouls called on him, and I am sure that he will be able to adjust and learn how to avoid the NBA whistle as it differs from college – and really high school in his case. The fact remains that Memphis needs him to remain on the floor when they play some of the deeper, more talented teams.
What can MarShon Brooks do against good teams?
In the first few weeks, Memphis faced some of the lesser competition in the league, and took advantage of them.
Against Utah on Friday, he entered a single digit game, and immediately came in and made an impact in the game.
To start the fourth quarter MarShon Brooks has done the following:
-Executed really nice pass to a rolling Gasol down the lane
-Buried a tough hesitation three to swing momentum back in Memphis’ favor
-Held the ball long enough on a pick-and-pop to give Gasol time to setup for 3
— Andrew Ford (@AndrewFord22) November 3, 2018
Though the Jazz were without star Donovan Mitchell, they are still a solid team in the West so I will take the liberty to label them a “good” team by which to judge Brooks’ play.
He currently is averaging 19 points per 36 minutes, which is good enough for second on the team behind Mike Conley. However, he is 9th in minutes played, so it is hard to extrapolate this data to any level of importance.
On Monday, the Grizzlies play in the Bay Area against Golden State, who has the 10th best defense in the league. This will be the best defensive team that Memphis has faced since opening the season in Indiana.
Will Dillon Brooks beat the sophomore slump?
It appears that Dilly Buckets is finding his own as he finally reached double digit scoring in Sunday night’s loss in Phoenix, where he scored 17 points on 7-10 shooting. In this game he logged a season high 29 minutes, which played a large part in him finding his rhythm.
With Brooks, he really needs that consistent playing time in order to gain confidence and find that defensive fire and shooting stroke that he exuded last year. With consistency being key, it is noteworthy that the lineup that Dillon has played with the most – Conley, Temple, Gasol, and Mack – has only logged 14 minutes together so far through 8 games. That particular lineup is plus 7.8 points per 100 possessions and it is a solid group for Dillon to play alongside. It is a very defensively capable lineup with Gasol and Temple, and it allows him to be a tertiary scorer off the ball, setting up moments like this.
— FOX Sports Grizzlies (@GrizzliesOnFSSE) November 5, 2018
This Week’s 4 Things To Watch For
How does Memphis stack up against the best of the best?
We will certainly find out this week as we face two of the top teams in the West and one of the most exciting duos in the East in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Check out a preview of these games HERE.
Will JJJ get more minutes?
Even though he was not in foul trouble in Phoenix, he only logged 22 minutes and took 2 shots. JB opted to go with a smaller lineup with Kyle Anderson at the four. We will see what he decides to go with this week.
Will the Grizzlies role players stay hot?
Shelvin Mack and Garrett Temple are just a few of the Grizzlies’ role players who are quickly becoming key cogs in the Grit-n-Grind machine. They are both on pace for career highs in minutes and points, so I would expect some sort of regression to the mean.
Is the Memphis defense actually one of the best in the league?
It depends. How is Marc Gasol feeling on that day. Everything on D revolves around him. If he is able to impact the game on that side of the ball, others will be drawn in an contribute. Monday should be a big dose of reality and I am curious if our added defensive capability will be of any impact against the unstoppable Warriors.