The Grizzlies lost to the Chicago Bulls, 92-88, Tuesday night in their second preseason game. With this one broadcast by NBATV, we weren't restricted to the box score to try to learn something from the game.
With Mike Conley getting a night off and the team playing against a much better defense than in Game 1 against Real Madrid, the Grizzlies' starting-lineup offense wasn't clicking quite as nicely. But in a game where Lionel Hollins decided to play out the string with bench players and non-roster free agents from the middle of the third quarter on, there were a few things to take away:
Tony Wroten's debut: After getting a “DNP” in the first preseason game, rookie point guard Tony Wroten made his preseason debut and showcased his raw talent — with a strong emphasis on both of those words. Wroten did a lot of stuff. Some of it was bad — he shot poorly (2-7) despite taking all but one attempt in the paint, he had 3 turnovers. But a lot of it was good: In 19 minutes, Wroten routinely got into the paint, drew three shooting fouls, had 4 rebounds (2 offensive), 2 steals, and dished 4 assists. He should have had at least five, but one first-half drive ended in a slick shuffle pass that resulted in a missed lay-up by Hamed Haddadi. For a teenager making his debut in an NBA uniform, on the road, against lots of veteran, high-level players, I thought it was pretty impressive.
Bayless on the ball: With Conley out, Jerryd Bayless started at point guard and even at a glance there was a clear difference in ball-handling assurance and floor leadership. But if Bayless' point guard play was wanting, it wasn't actively bad in the manner the Grizzlies have grown too accustomed in recent years and it's still only a couple of preseason games into his Griz tenure. Bayless' jumper again didn't fall (2-6), but he did show his ability to get to the rim, draw contact, and finish.
Z-Bo's bounce is back: Zach Randolph had 4 offensive rebounds in 16 minutes and confirmed in a couple of moments how much he's recovered from last season's knee injury. There was one of his trademark offensive rebound tip-ins — “Z bounds,” if we must — and, even more encouragingly, there was the display of Randolph's quick second jump as he twice beat Bulls defenders to the ball in a volleyball match at the rim, finally getting the ball and drawing a foul. This quickness and relentlessness around the rim is part of what has made Randolph a monster rebounder in his career, and he wasn't capable of this when we last saw him in the Clippers series.
Jerome Jordan worth a look: At this point, I don't really see any of the non-roster invites making it out of training camp, but the best looking free agent so far has to be former University of Tulsa center Jerome Jordan, who had 13 points on 5-7 shooting and 5 rebounds in only 13 minutes against the Bulls. Jordan played roughly 100 minutes as a rookie for the Knicks last season and put up decent numbers in a very small playing sample. On a cursory look, Jordan seems to lack strength and looks to have a limited skill set, but at 7'0” and 255 pounds, he has more of a true center's build than so-far-disappointing fellow camper Michael Dunigan, can play above the rim, and can shoot at least out to the free-throw line. He looks like an NBA player to me, though I doubt he'll be one for the Grizzlies this season.