Here we are, 20 games are behind us. We have experienced both feast and famine, but more of the former. Memphis earned 5 wins in a row and found themselves atop the Western Conference. Now they are back into the middle of the pack after a 3 game skid. It was a monumental off-season for the Memphis franchise. A summer when new faces –some young, some old(er) — joined the team or simply worked there way back to full strength.
Check out The BarnBurner’s quarter season grades for each of the players on the Grizzlies roster.
Marc Gasol: A
Even though last year Marc had a decent year on paper, he wasn’t the same Gasol that we have become accustomed to in Memphis. Looking back on the situation, it was all for the better.
This season has been a totally different story. With Marc’s running mate, Mike Conley, back at the helm, he is playing his age 34 season better than his previous three All-Star seasons.
He is shooting a career high 4.6 threes per game and hitting 41% of them. That percentage is good enough to put him third in the league among centers who take more than 1 attempt per game and have made 10 or more appearances.
According to NBA.com, he is top 10 in defensive rating among centers who have played 10 or more games and average 15 or more minutes. Steven Adams is the only other man on this list who averages over 30 minutes per game.
Marc is hauling in more boards than any other season in his career and has an eFG% of 54.4%, a career best. He is doing all this while shooting the ball 13.6 times per game, his lowest mark since the 2015-2016 campaign. This decrease in shots is largely due to the fact that his usage rate is the lowest that it has been since 2013-2014.
All signs point to the fact that this year we are witnessing the best version of Marc.
Chandler Parsons: F
After a touching Player’s Tribune article, I know all of Memphis was optimistic that this could be the year that Chandler made his comeback to the big leagues.
That lasted 3 appearances and totaled 46 minutes. At this point I would love for him to get back on the floor, but I’m not holding my breath.
Garrett Temple: B+
There probably weren’t many people who thought that bringing in a 32 year old journeyman would be one of the keys to Memphis’ early season success. Temple has started in all 20 games this season and is averaging career highs in essentially all offensive categories. His defense on the wing has been critical in helping Memphis against some of their formidable foes. He is actually playing his best defense since 2015-2016, when he was with the Wizards, two teams ago.
Temple has been a great glue guy and has scored in double figures 11 times for the Grizzlies this season. Though he has cooled off as of late, the trade for Temple has been an overwhelming success for this team.
Mike Conley: A
The Conductor is back and as good as ever – maybe even better. Fresh off a 12 game season and Achilles surgery last year, Mike has gone back to his ways of the 2016-2017 season when he went toe to toe against the then-Spur Kawhi Leonard in the playoffs.
Mike runs the show for the Grizzlies and is a huge part of their 12-8 record. He is putting in 33.6 minutes per game and has scored 20 or more points in 10 games this season, including two 30+ point performances. He started off the year sluggish, shooting 35.8% from the field in his first 10 games. However, Mike had a breakout 32 point performance against Philadelphia at home where he shot 12 of 24 and hit 4 threes. Since that game Mike has shot 46% and that includes 39% from beyond the arc.
As Mike goes, so go the Grizzlies. When he reached 20+ plus in a game, the Grizzlies are more likely than not to win the game.
Dillon Brooks: C
Unlike Mike, Dilly Buckets did not pick up where he left off his exciting rookie season. This season he has played in only 11 games, sidelined due to a left knee strain suffered during the game against the 76ers.
Dillon started 74 games last year during the tanking season but has yet to start a game during the present season. With the additions of Garrett Temple, Shelvin Mack, and a healthy Wayne Selden, Brooks minutes are down by 10 per game.
The injury occurred at a really poor time, as Dillon was averaging 13 points and shooting 50% from three in the three games prior to his injury. To put this in perspective, he was averaging less than 5 points per game and 27% from three in his first 7 games. It appeared that he was on the cusp of a breakthrough when he sustained the injury. He is expected back early 2019.
Wayne Selden: C
At the Forum, I sit near a guy who the other day bet his friend $5 that Wayne Selden would turn the ball over before scoring. That about sums up Wayne’s season so far — at least that’s how it feels.
Selden is currently averaging the least amount of minutes since he has been in Memphis with 16.2 per game. He is averaging 5.8 ppg and shooting 41% from the field. He has yet to find a rhythm this season and it is unclear what his role is on this team. His defense has not been good enough to stifle opposing wings and his offense has not been enough to keep him in the game either.
in the absence of Dillon Brooks, Coach Bickerstaff has chosen to go with Wayne more times than fellow reserve MarShon Brooks, but so far he has yet to earn that trust.
Ivan Rabb: C
If you know me, you know I’m team “Give Rabb Some Run”. He has only appeared in 8 games, even with the injury and absence of JaMychal Green for several weeks. I admit he looked very outmatched when Joel Embiid was in town, but aren’t most?
Rabb is averaging a bucket per game and a pair of rebounds in 6.6 minutes per appearance.
JaMychal Green: B
JaMychal may have taken an early blow to the face this season, but ever since he has been back, he has been uber productive off the bench for the Grizzlies. Currently, he is playing 21.8 minutes per contest, but I would expect that to go up as he gets his legs under him and is able to give Marc some more breathers.
His per 36 minutes numbers are at career highs in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks. When he comes into the game, he brings a distinct energy to the arena. JaMychal has come back from his injury with a vengeance, and the team will need him to continue to compete at a high level in order to have a chance to continue winning.
MarShon Brooks: B-
Sometimes I don’t know what to think about MarShon. He frequently acts like a black hole when in the game — once the ball goes to him, it’s not going to anyone else. However, he is a gunner who can get you a bucket when the offense goes stagnant. Brooks has been given a few CD-DNP’s this year, with Bickerstaff opting to go with Wayne Selden to play out the reserve minutes. MarShon’s per 36 minutes volume stats are higher than Wayne’s but with decreased efficiency. At least you know what your getting. When he’s hot, he’s hot. I would like to see him get the SG run for a few consecutive games to see what he can do with more than 13.8 minutes per game.
Jaren Jackson Jr: A
When Jackson Jr. is on the floor, he is making an impact on both ends. He is already statistically one of the better “centers” in the league, right up there with Marc Gasol. We all know that his biggest opportunity is staying out of foul trouble. He is currently earning 8 fouls per 100 possessions, which is causing him to miss a lot of playing time. We saw it the other night when he got two fouls in the first minute of the game.
Jackson is shooting 34.9% from 3, which puts him 4th on the team among guys shooting 2 or more 3PA per game. The most astounding stat from Jaren is that he is averaging 2.1 blocks per game. This is 5th in the entire NBA, and he is doing it only averaging 25 minutes per game.
Jaren is 6th (12.7) among rookies in points per game, 7th (4.5) in rebounds, and 7th (25) in minutes per game. This tells me that the more playing time that Jaren gets, the more time he will have to shine among his peers.
The two things that Grizzlies fans are still waiting to see from Jaren are: ability to finish games when given the opportunity, and staying out of foul trouble. If he can shine in those areas, then the sky is the limit.
— NBA (@NBA) November 26, 2018
Kyle Anderson: B+
This guy is the real deal on defense. He held Kawhi Leonard to 17 points the other night while scoring 13 of his own. Kyle is the typical Grizzly who is motivated by his defense, and lets that determine his play on both ends of the floor.
He has earned at least one steal in 13 games, and a block or more in 11 games. Anderson started out the season shaky on the offensive end, missing lots of gimmes at the rim, but has shored up that as of late, taking advantage of snazzy passes by Marc and Mike. Kyle is averaging 6.4 rebounds per game and 6.3 points. He is a solid glue guy for this roster and knows his assignment. Anderson’s signing over the summer was seen as a big deal then and I continue to believe that it remains a key acquisition for this team.
Night in and night out you know what you are getting from him, and there’s something to be said for that.
Omri Casspi: B
I know that we like to clown on Casspi’s shot mechanics, but dangit if they don’t work. Omri is shooting 56.9% from the field and 42.9% from three. He has the highest eFG% on the team at 62.7%. He is one efficient dude. Averaging only 11.6 minutes per game in his 14 appearances, he is an underutilized option on this roster.
Casspi is 11th on the team in minutes played this season, so we only have a small sample size to go with. This is due partly to some knee issues that forced him to miss several games. However, his per 36 minutes and per 100 possessions stats are quite impressive and put him towards the top of this roster. Add that to his above average defense, and he makes a great case to get some run as we creep into the meat of the schedule.
Shelvin Mack: B
Shelvin Mack started off the season on fire and has played a large role in the early success of the Grizzlies. Mack scored in double figures in 5 of the first 10 games. However. he has since come back down to earth a little. He is a career 6.6p/3.1a/2r guy in 18 mpg. This season he is contributing 9.9p/3.7a/2.8r in 25.1 mpg. Mack is also shooting well from beyond the arc at a clip of 41.8% on 2.8 attempts per game. This has helped spread the floor a bit and given Mike Conley some extra driving lanes and opportunities at the end of games.
It has been a breath of fresh air to have an experienced back up point guard that can take some of the heat off Mike at various points of the game. In addition, Marc Gasol and Shelvin have appeared to develop a solid chemistry, which has led to many successful possessions.
Not graded: DJ Stephens, Jevon Carter, Yuta Watanabe