After 41 games, the Grizzlies own a record of 19-22 and are in 13th place in the Western Conference. They are currently 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot, with four teams sandwiched between themselves and the 8th placed Lakers.
Now that our honeymoon phase with this new roster is complete, we have enough data and games under our belt to get a realistic grasp on individual and team performance. Seeing as Vegas had the Grizzlies’ projected win total at 34.5 before the first tip, the team is actually on track to exceed that, though it may not feel like it. That is why I have given the team an overall grade of B. Maybe the B is for Better; Better than expected (by most).
Now that you know how where the team is for the year, check out The BarnBurner’s mid-season grades for each of the players on the Grizzlies roster.
Marc Gasol: B
What started out as incredibly productive campaign for Big Spain, has turned into a total disaster. One thing we have learned about the Grizzlies is that when Marc is playing well, the team plays well – with the opposite being even more true.
In the first 20 games of the season, Marc averaged 18.5p/9.4r/3.95a with 1.65 turnovers. During that stretch, the Grizzlies earned 12 wins. In the 21 games since that point in the season, he is averaging 13p/8r/5a with 2.7 turnovers. The second quarter of the season has been tough for Memphis, with only 6 total wins in 21 games, including two losing streaks of five or more games.
His nearly 6 point per game decrease on a team that already struggles to score has been the death nail (or hammer, nail, coffin) for this team over the past month plus. Marc tweaked his ankle earlier in the season and has never fully recovered. The impact has most notable been felt on both sides of the ball near the three point line. In the second quarter of the season, Gasol is shooting 28.8% from three, when he shot 41.3% in the first 20 games of the season. Also, it seems that his ability to defensively anchor this team has decreased as well.
When looking at his overall season, Marc is actually not far off from his career averages, or even his All-Star numbers from a few seasons ago. However, the way that he is trending this season is not a road that Memphis can afford to go down if they want to relay their first round draft pick (top 8 protected) to Boston this season to get that monkey off their back.
Can the big fella get things going in the back half of the season? Or will Marc and the team continue to traipse through the remainder of the games with no enthusiasm or zeal?
Chandler Parsons: F
LOL, I’m not sure why I even put him in here, but technically he is still on the roster. Chandler will never suit up for the Grizzlies again, and you can read more about that HERE.
Garrett Temple: B
No matter how you slice and dice it, Garrett Temple is much more valuable to this team than Deyonta Davis and Ben McLemore. Adding him to the mix was a laudable move by Chris Wallace. Sure, he was a focal point in a recent locker room fracas, but overall, Temple has joined this team, made an impact, and met the expectations put before him.
Similar to Marc, he started the season off at a level that was much higher than his career totals would suggest was sustainable. Sure enough, the regression to the mean occurred and here we are today.
This season, Temple is only a few starts shy of matching his career high of 43. At 32 years old, he is playing 32 minutes per game, 7 minutes more than the average of his previous three seasons where he was getting consistent minutes. If you look at his per 36 minutes production, Temple is plugging along, performing dang near his career averages in most categories. With the Dillon Brooks injury and lack of consistent depth on the wings, he has been asked to do more than he can this season and it is finally catching up to him.
Mike Conley: A
On the court, Mike Conley has been playing his heart out this season. Earlier this season he came out publicly in an interview to express how badly he wants to be an All-Star this season. His numbers certainly put him in contention for one of the coaches selections. However, I firmly believe that the best way to get Mike to Charlotte is for the Grizzlies to be in the playoff race when time comes around for those decisions to be made.
In nearly 34 minutes of play, Mike is putting up numbers of 20.1p/3.3r/6.2a and is shooting 35% from three and 84% from the charity stripe. He has scored 20 or more points in 22 of his 40 games played this year. This season, Conley is seeing the highest usage rates of his career at 27.6%. This is largely due to the fourth quarter situations, where we see Mike’s usage rate climb to 32.3%, which puts him top ten in the league among players who have played 30 or more games. Almost everyone ahead of him on this list is a perennial All-Star.
The only thing that Mike could improve on is getting the ball to Jaren Jackson Jr. I’m sure that old habits – especially when they have worked for a decade – die hard, but getting the ball to Jaren is key to getting buckets for this team.
Dillon Brooks: B
This was supposed to be the year that we would experience the impact of Dillon Brooks at its fullest. He started off his sophomore campaign slow, sideline by a knee injury for a large part of it. Earlier this week it was revealed that Brooks had suffered a toe injury against the Spurs and would likely be out the remainder of the season recovering from a procedure.
In his limited time this season, Brooks was putting up a line of 7.5p/1.7r/.9a in 18.3 minutes per game while shooting 37.5% from three.
Ivan Rabb: C
I’m not exactly sure why Rabb isn’t getting more run, especially since the Grizzlies have experienced both 5 and 6 game losing streaks. He has seen the court 8 times this season and has scored very efficiently, shooting 62.5% and earning 2.5p/2.4r per short appearance.
He has bounced back and forth often between the big club and the Hustle, the Grizzlies’ G-League affiliate. It’s a long season and depending on how Memphis fares the rest of the way, we may get to see some more of Ivan in the Beale Street Blue – or grey/yellow, white/navy, etc.
JaMychal Green: B
If you are a member of Grizzlies Facebook or Twitter, then you have likely seen/experienced/been a part of the outrage regarding JaMychal Green and his playing time.
I understand that in theory he is taking minutes away from Jaren, and in many cases this is true. Coach Bickerstaff has chosen to close out games with Green while leaving young Jackson on the bench. I admit, this doesn’t make much sense. However, this is not JaMychal’s fault. Don’t hold that against him.
Green has been our most consistent bench player all season long. He is averaging 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 23.4 minutes of run. That means his per 36 numbers are in double double territory. At times he has played questionable defense, but recently has stepped up his game on that end of the floor. Green has also improved his three point game, shooting a career high 39.1% from beyond the arc.
Right now JaMychal is an ideal backup big man, coach just needs to make sure that he doesn’t inhibit Jaren’s development when opting to go to Green.
Jaren Jackson Jr: A
Something we recently learned about Jaren, on top of being a greatly talented young basketball player, is that he loves when things are lit.
Among rookies this season, Jaren is 9th in minutes per game with 25.4. He ranks 5th in points (13.4), 6th in rebounds (4.6), and 2nd in blocks (1.5).
He is the future of the franchise, and if he can keep his fouls down – currently 3.9 per game – then coach Bickerstaff will have no reason to not play this young man 30+ minutes per game. Jackson is a generational talent and is not afraid to take it right at the best in the league. He has gone heads up against Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and LeBron James just to name a few. A video is worth 2,000 words, so here ya go:
Kyle Anderson: A
Kyle gets an A because he is literally doing what we signed him to do. He has been dealt some tough defensive assignments like DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard and for the most part has done an extraordinary job.
More recently, he has taken over some of the point guard duties and run the show when the majority of the second unit is on the floor. His court vision, ability, and willingness to get the ball to Jaren should not be overlooked.
Though playing a variety of positions, Anderson is the Grizzlies third leading rebounder with 6 boards per game. Though he only averages 8 points per contest, he is doing so on great efficiency, shooting 54% from the field and 61% from inside the arc.
Great signing by Wallace. Give the man credit for that.
Omri Casspi: B
When Casspi isn’t inciting violence in the locker room, he is playing very efficient basketball. He has made 29 appearances this season and averaged 12.3 minutes per game. His 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds aren’t all that he has to show for his time on the court. He has also played some crucial defense for this Grizzlies ball club. We have seen him play multiple positions on the floor, which has given J.B. an increased amount of flexibility down the stretch when guys like Jaren are in foul trouble.
Jevon Carter: B
In his limited time on the court for the Grizzlies this season, Jevon Carter has proven why he earned the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors at West Virginia.
He was thrown into the fire in his first game – tasked with guarding NBA scoring leader James Harden.
Jevon has yet to showcase his offensive abilities as much as his defense, but there will likely be many more chances for the rookie as the season goes along.
Shelvin Mack: B
Hot and cold. Those two words best describe Shelvin Mack’s season so far. in the first quarter of the season, He was averaging nearly 10 points and over 3.5 assists per game. In the second quarter during the Grizzlies struggles, the backup PG saw his numbers drop to under 6 points and 3 assists per game. He even drew a CD-DNP recently with Bickerstaff opting to give rookie Jevon carter a shot at manning the second unit. Mack had a big game against the Spurs on Wednesday after sitting two games and we can hope that is a sign that he has found his legs again and we will see some more consistency from him.
Joakim Noah: C
The Grizzlies have given the former All-Star a second chance. After joining the Grizzlies in early December, Noah has played some spot minutes for the squad in 16 different games. He is averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds in his limited time and has offered some occasional relief on defense when Marc has to get some rest. No doubt his shining moment came very early in the season with the double gun holster celebration sparked by a mid-range jumper.
Justin Holiday: C
Though we are working with a small sample size (3 games), Justin Holiday is still working to find his role on this Grizzlies roster and see where he fits in. He has struggled on offense, only shooting 4-18 from the field that includes 0 of 6 from three, the area that Memphis needs the most help in – and signed him to help out with.
In his most recent appearance however, he did show solid stretches of excellent defense, so I expect him to catch his stride sooner than later.
Not graded: Yuta Watanabe