Thursday, October 12, 2017

Five Things About Grizzlies/Rockets

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 7:51 AM

click to enlarge Wade Baldwin - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Wade Baldwin

Last night the Grizzlies lost another preseason game, this one a 101-89 home showdown against the newly Chris-Pauled Houston Rockets. With Wayne Selden out (and Ben McLemore still nursing that broken foot back to health) Andrew Harrison got the start at shooting guard, and things got more interesting from there. Here are five of those interesting things from last night.

Preseason games with an 8:40PM tip should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention. This might be a little Inside Baseball, but a late tip makes for an even later night for the people covering the game, and that’s hard enough to deal with when the games actually count. Last night’s didn’t.

Chandler Parsons: not great. It’s becoming clear that the “he’s a backup power forward” phone call was coming from inside the house, so to speak. Parsons is moving OK, but so far he’s been a total non-entity on the court. Last night Rade Zagorac had more impact on the game, and Parsons hasn’t had any performances that were much better. The catch is that I don’t think the Grizzlies are willing to sacrifice those 20 minutes a night to his rehab process this year; given the changes on the team and the strengthened West, they can’t afford to. Until he proves otherwise, I think expectations for what the Grizzlies can actually get from Parsons this season should rightfully continue to trend downwards, and (to state the obvious) that’s ultimately a bad indicator for what the ceiling of this year’s team will be.

Dillon Brooks is an NBA player. Brooks went in the second round last year, but watching him so far, I think he probably should have been a late first-round guy. He already looks better than last year’s first round pick (sorry Wade) and he looks to have a natural feel for his position. I’ve only heard good things from people around the team. Brooks seems like he could be a piece of the rotation for years to come, and getting that from a second round guy is the exception, not the rule.

Wade Baldwin still needs to learn how to play, and I’m not sure he will. My problem with Baldwin after his first season was that he tried to force every play to happen with his athleticism rather than using his head and making the right play. (I realize this is a very “Gasol” thing to say, but there are worse things about which to be fanatical than “make the right play.”) His errors almost always happen because he’s trying to force a play that just isn’t available to him. In year two, that doesn’t seem to have changed much. He’s a little more contained, but only a little, and the comments about how he “dominates” in practice and thinks he’s the best guy on the floor don’t lend themselves to many charitable interpretations. Couple that with scuttlebutt about his attitude, and you’ve got a recipe for a guy who might not be worth the effort required. They won’t cut him, probably, but if the Grizzlies could get a protected future second rounder for him—the old “Tony Wroten Special”—my suspicion is that he’d already be gone. Baldwin is a(nother) player whose time so far is a sunk cost.

Tyreke Evans is still Tyreke Evans. Some of my excitement about the Evans signing was, in hindsight, optimistically colored by my non-remembrance of his ball-stopper side. I still think he can be a very valuable member of this team, and his presence means good things for a Grizzlies wing rotation that might be deeper than it's been in the Conley/Gasol era even without Tony Allen around. But.

This is going to be a tweet that happens on a regular basis over the course of the season. It just is. Embrace it, rather than fighting it, and it won't be so bad. But know that it will happen.

What's Next

The Grizzlies play the Pelicans Friday night, in Tony Allen's first (albeit "not real") return to FedExForum in a New Orleans jersey. I expect that to be weird. The main thing looming over the Grizzlies is the roster situation, which will have to be resolved by Monday no matter what. I'm not sure which course of action I endorse at the moment, but most of the young guys have played well enough that I'm glad it's not my decision to make. The regular season is now less than a week away. Time to start loading in your antacid stash.


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