Memphis vs San Antonio: Student vs Teacher

The Memphis Grizzlies (2-7) look to get their first road victory when they travel to San Antonio to face the Spurs (5-4). The Grizzlies are coming off a 138-122 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, while the Spurs are also coming off a loss, a 135-115 effort at home to the Boston Celtics. 

The 2019-2020 season has officially gone into full swing, with the rigors of the grind of an 82 game season beginning to become a reality for teams around the league. With these rigors come unfortunate injuries and tests as to how teams around the NBA manage these injuries and try to keep players from sustaining future ailments. With this in mind, several organizations have begun to try a more proactive approach to player health management, sitting particular players with no injury designation under “load management.” The Grizzlies are the latest to try this approach, as Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke sat out the second game of a back to back — the game Saturday against Dallas. This strategy has left many divided, some saying this screws ticket holders out of seeing star players, while others applaud this effort to preserve player health. But where did this “load management” thing come from anyways? 

Enter Gregg Popovich. 

Gregg Popovich is the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, and is, to put it as bluntly as a Coach Pop interview, a coaching icon. No other organization in the NBA has their head coach as the prevailing centerpiece of the team the way the Spurs do. 5 NBA Championships, 3 Coach of the Year awards, and head of a constant playoff presence, Coach Pop has earned endless respect and admiration throughout the league. He was also one of the first head coaches to give the veterans on his team “days off” and essentially pioneered the healthy scratch from the lineup. 

Wanna know where Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins probably picked up on “load management?” 

You guess it. Coach Pop. 

Coach Jenkins worked with the Spurs organization from 2007 until 2013, working with both basketball operations as well as the Spurs D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros. So it’s safe to assume Coach Jenkins picked up on several of Coach Pop’s tendencies and did his best to learn under Coach Pop. So Monday’s game figures to be the first true “student vs teacher” test for the Grizzlies new head coach. 

The Spurs themselves are an intriguing mix of classic Spurs-style veteran leadership and high upside youth. They are lead by a pair of veteran former All-Stars in LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan. 11 All-Star appearances between the two, they are exactly the veteran leadership Coach Pop covets in his teams. Joining them in the starting lineup is former 1st Team All Defensive Player Dejounte Murray, as well as Bryn Forbes and Trey Lyles. 

The rotation features several players that Grizzlies fans should be more than familiar with. Former Grizzlies Rudy Gay and DeMarre Carroll populate the San Antonio bench, as well as certified Grizz Killer Patty Mills. Honestly, if you were to only watch Spurs vs Grizzlies games, you’d think Patty Mills was a superstar. But I digress. Also in the rotation are Derrick White and Marco Belinelli. 

One last notable about this game. After the game, the Spurs will be retiring the jersey of former point guard Tony Parker. Not only did Tony used to give the Grizzlies absolute fits, but he was the definition of being a consistent presence for a team and a city that he eventually became beloved by. Not to look games ahead or anything, but hearing of this jersey retirement, and then the return of Mike Conley to Memphis this Friday, but one may see an opportunity for the Grizzlies young point guard Ja Morant to see first hand examples of giving everything you have to the city, learning from those who came before, and seeing how you stack up. 

Student vs teacher, if you will. 

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