Grizzlies close out March with some encouraging play but yet another injury

Over the course of the past week, the Grizzlies went .500 with a record of 2-2. With the current roster that is suiting up for Memphis on a nightly basis, I think you have to be pleased with this outcome. Splitting a home series against the Thunder and Warriors makes sense and so does winning the first in a pair of back to back road games against Phoenix and the Clippers.

Last week saw several players auditioning for future contracts and showing out on several occasions. The Jonas Valanciunas train kept on rolling and Delon Wright also stepped up to show that he, too was a valuable piece of the Marc Gasol trade.

Bruno, Babay!!!

On Monday, Bruno Caboclo had a breakout game, scoring a career-high 24 points against the Thunder. He showcased his shooting, making 8 of 13 shots (4/7 from three) and also hauled in 11 rebounds.

He continues to be an interesting piece to the Grizzlies and he has taken advantage of the Grizzlies injury woes this season. Last week alone, he averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds on 53.8% shooting from the floor.

This season in 655 minutes on the floor, the Grizzlies have a net rating of 1.5 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents when Bruno is on the floor.

Below is a chart that shows Caboclo’s points (blue) and rebounds (orange) per appearance with a trendline for each category.

While he has several outlier games occuring in the past few weeks that have helped his scoring numbers, it does appear that as he has been given more playing time, he has been able to produce appropriately. Caboclo probably isn’t a starter on a playoff team, but he could earn consistent minutes on one if he can continue to be a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions, protect the rim, and spread the floor on offense. If he can give you somewhere near 8 points and 5 boards per game, with the occasional 20 point burst, that isn’t too shabby.

Tyler Dorsey

So, I think we can all agree. The Shelvin Mack for Tyler Dorsey trade definitely played out in favor of the Grizzlies. Averaging 19 minutes per game in 16 appearances (6 starts), Tyler Dorsey is contributing 8.5 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists to J.B. Bickerstaff’s team. He also leads the team in 3P% at nearly 40 percent 3.4 attempts per game. He is making 1.4 threes per game and that puts him third on the roster – not counting those who are out for the season due to injury – to only Mike Conley and Avery Bradley.

Dorsey gives it his all every day and he is a bucket getter. The Grizzlies traded away MarShon Brooks earlier in the season and have been feeling the hurt from lack of scoring off the bench with the way the injury bug has engulfed the team as of late. Dorsey is the one of the more efficient scorers on the Grizzlies’ roster and takes advantage of the second life he has been given in Memphis.

5 greatest players in NBA franchise

Found this little exercise on the NBA subreddit and found it intriguing. I think many might argue that though some of these players are more decorated, Tony Allen – the Grind Father himself – probably deserves a spot on this list. Mike Miller might also be someone in consideration for this list, though all his seasons with the team either ended after 82 games or with a first round playoff exit.

Mike Conley takes back first place in scoring

Though this has been a tough year, we have all been encouraged by the return from injury and valiant resurgence of Mike Conley. In a home loss to the Golden State Warriors, Conley took back his scoring crown from former teammate Marc Gasol.

The faithful fans in Memphis aren’t the only ones who appreciate what Conley has been able to do this season. ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote in his weekly 10 Things column that he believes Mike should be in the conversation for an All-NBA selection due to carrying this injury laden Grizzlies team over the 30 victory mark. This is especially true since the opening day roster is a distant memory. The only familiar faces to Mike Conley that remain playable at this point in the season are Ivan Rabb and Chandler Parsons.

Jonas gets in on the personal records too

It seems we can’t have anything we want this year. This season is eerily familiar to the Grizzlies 2015-2016 campaign where they broke records by playing 28 different guys over the course of the season. The unfortunate difference is that the Grizzlies wasted a playoff birth by finding themselves in the 8th seed and out of the draft lottery. That was tough to swallow.

In this particular situation, I am upset because the human representative of a Grizzly bear, Jonas Valanciunas, went down Sunday night with an ankle injury and the team announced on Monday that he would not play in any of the remaining 5 games this season.

Since coming to Memphis, Jonas has done exactly the same thing that he did in Toronto. No, really, check out his per 36 stats and they are ridiculously similar. The main difference is that he is getting a full complement of playing time with Memphis – allowing him to reach double-double territory consistently.

Last week Valanciunas scored a career high 34 points in the Grizzlies’ come from behind win in Phoenix on Saturday in what would be his final complete game of the season. In the month of March, where the Grizzlies went 7-7, JV averaged a cool 20 and 10. What other Grizzly in the past does that remind you of?

He was truly impacted the team in the positive when on the floor. Let me throw some numbers at you from

When Valanciunas is on the floor, the Grizzlies are a net of 4 points better per 100 possessions than opponents as opposed to when he is off the floor. The Grizz are 3.79 assists better with him in the game and also the team’s second chance efficiency is better.

Prior to Sunday’s game, Mike Conley scored 1.35 points more per 100 possessions with Jonas than without (327 minutes with and 2014 without). This was accomplished with a usage rate that was decreased by 1.73 percentage points.

His teammate who was a carry over from the Toronto days in Delon Wright, really felt comfortable with Valanciunas. Delon averaged 2.85 points per 100 possessions more with Jonas on the floor compared to when Jonas was on the bench.

Valanciunas is a guy who helps take some of the pressure off the point guards and gives them more freedom and opportunities. If you have a relaxed main ball-handler, then that opens up plenty of lanes and options for creativity and provides an environment for them to thrive.

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Zak (@BarnBurnerBro) is a native Memphian who covers the Memphis Grizzlies, Tigers, and St. Louis Cardinals for The Barn. He spends his free time exploring breweries, restaurants, and leading the Ivan Rabb stan club.

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