Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Hustle Report: Week 2

A coiled viper strikes; the Hustle pick up first road win.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 4:04 PM

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
  • Memphis Grizzlies

I’m no doctor, but if you’re a passionate and devoted basketball fan from the Southaven or Memphis and have heart problems, I highly recommend you avoid watching any more Memphis Hustle home games. Last Friday, November 10, at the Landers Center, the Memphis Hustle fell to a 138–136 defeats against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. And what a game it was; both teams took full participation in a vicious tug of war that neither side was ever able to hold on to for an extended period of time. It was the third straight Hustle home game in which both teams led by at least nine points, and the third straight game decided by four points or less. If this keeps up, Hustle fans will hold the record for shortest fingernails by the time playoffs roll around.

Memphis seems to be growing into its strengths as a team. Interior play is excellent; after Friday’s matchup, the Hustle led the league average per game in rebounds (51.3), offensive rebounds (16.7), and blocked shots (9.3). As an added bonus, the team even made a G-League single-season record high 55 baskets in one game. And yet, despite all that, the Hustle still lost this game. The loss can be directly traced to the team’s three-point shooting percentage, which makes for grim reading. Only 12 of the Hustle’s 136 points came from three-point shots, with the team going 4 of 22 from beyond the arc. The Vipers went 13 for 30 and that, ultimately, is where the difference lies. The game was tied at 136 apiece when Kobi Simmons missed a go-ahead free throw with four seconds remaining. The Vipers took it down the other end and Briante Weber hit a floater to win the game. With some better three point shooting, hopefully the Hustle can avoid such last-minute drama.

The loss was disappointing, but at least fans were treated to an offensive exhibition. Ivan Rabb had another outstanding game with 27 points on 10 for 12 shooting and eight rebounds, and Trahson Burrell had his second straight double double. Wayne Selden and Deyonta Davis, on assignment from the Grizzlies this game, scored 15 points apiece.

But, like Hustle’s first competitive outings, the team absolutely did not want to lose two games in a row, and duly traveled to Canton, Ohio yesterday and won by more than four points. Former Canton point guard Jordan Crawford put up 11 points against his old team; how a 5’6 player can make heavily contested layups in traffic, I’ll never know, but I’m glad he’s on our side. Canton exploded out of the blocks with a 37-point first quarter, but the Hustle kept pace until they embarked on a 29–11 run in the third quarter, eventually extending their lead to as many as 13 points. From there, they didn’t look back.

Wednesday’s game was the only matchup between the two teams this season, so if you know anyone in Canton, enjoy your bragging rights until next year. This time around, the Hustle weren’t as haunted by poor three-point shooting, going 8 for 22. Ivan Rabb had his third double-double, and seven players scored in the double digits to take the team past Canton and 2008 NBA champion Kendrick Perkins (remember him?) on the way to the franchise’s first ever road win.

Ivan Rabb’s consistent production is a boon, but having the scoring spread around made it difficult for the Charge to shut down any one player. Hopefully there’s more to come, but we’ll probably need to work on those three-pointers first. The Hustle surprisingly lost the rebound head-to-head (but only barely, 41–40), but were able to pull out a large enough lead regardless.

At 2–2, the Hustle have made a promising start to the season. It’s good to see the character coming through, with the team refusing to lose back to back games at this point, but tomorrow’s game will prove to be a spicy matchup. The Memphis Grizzlies’ former G-League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves (formerly known as the Iowa Energy) arrive in town. Hope you’ve got some fingernails left.

Miscellaneous Notes:

Today is hometown forward Trahson Burrell’s birthday, so give him a shoutout on twitter: @TBurrell_2


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Pacers 116, Grizzlies 113: Five Thoughts

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 8:40 AM

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

The Grizzlies did not win last night, and the fact that they didn’t lose by fifteen or twenty points is something of a minor miracle. The 116–113 final score doesn’t reflect the fact that without Mike Conley, the offense was stagnant and ineffective for most of the game, that the starting lineup continues to be a black hole while the second unit carries the team, or that the Grizzlies spent the first three quarters of the game utterly disinterested in playing defense.

The score doesn’t reflect those realities because of a furious attempt at a fourth quarter comeback, led by Marc Gasol (who had a great game that was swamped by the team’s difficulties, similar to that of Tyreke Evans in Monday night’s loss at Milwaukee), Mario Chalmers (kinda) and, of course, a still-rolling Tyreke Evans. But what happened? Why did it take three quarters? You know the drill by now; I have five thoughts about that:

Adding three injured guys back to the rotation at the same time is a little too much too fast. They don’t have a choice, but with Ben McLemore, Wayne Selden, and JaMychal Green all coming back at the same time, the Grizzlies have three new guys on the team, one of whom didn’t even go through training camp and preseason. It makes for some interesting chemistry-on-the-fly experiments. Green’s the only one who has seen the floor in a regular season game, and that was only a few minutes on opening night. It showed on the court. The Grizzlies played several lineups that haven’t been seen at all this year, and there were times when it looked exactly like that: guys who haven’t ever played together. Fortunately, it’s still November, so there’s plenty of time for them to work it out, but hovering around .500 after their hot start applies some pressure that maybe shouldn’t be there (and wouldn’t be, if they’d started the season out beating bad teams instead of good ones).

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

Marc Gasol had one of the quietest “great” games I’ve seen. Gasol finished the night with 35 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 blocks, and until the fourth quarter it didn’t really seem like he was doing that much. Gasol was doing his part to get the Grizzlies back in the game, but they were having such a hard time gaining any traction that it just didn’t seem like it. After the game, he was fuming to Wayne Selden about the team’s defensive mistakes, and then repeated the same rant to assembled reporters—cleaned up for television, of course. The whole team was unfocused defensively, and because they lost in that way, Gasol wasn’t in any way happy about the stat line he put up.

Mario Chalmers wasn’t bad. This is newsworthy, because he has been bad lately, and with Mike Conley out for now (and from the sound of his injury, out for a good stretch of time while the Achilles heals, but that’s not the official prognosis) he’s going to have to carry a lot more of the team’s minutes at point guard. Tyreke Evans has been scoring so well that moving him to be the primary ball handler seems like a mistake, and Andrew Harrison has already shown that he’s just not any good this year so far. If Chalmers can step up his play, the Grizzlies should get by OK without Conley. If he struggles the way he was a week or two ago, things will not be good.

Defense generates everything for this team. And, as a corollary, when they don’t play it, they’re not good. The offense was stagnant last night because the Griz weren’t getting stops. When they get stops, they can get out and run and use their newfangled youth and athleticism. They’re just not a half-court team anymore, really; they’re not built to play the old Hollins-style ground-and-pound game. But they only way for them to avoid getting stuck in immobile half-court sets waiting for Gasol or Evans or Parsons to bail them out is to generate offense in transition, and they can only do that when they’re focused on defense.

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

Gasol made an interesting point after the game last night: on defense, a lot of what observers read as “effort” issues are actually focus and awareness issues. If you’re not paying enough attention to where your man is going, it doesn’t matter if you’re trying really hard, he’s going to get away from you—but from the stands it looks like you just weren’t trying to keep up with him. I think that’s an interesting note, because it recasts the Grizzlies’ problems on that end of the floor. It’s not a motivation issue (most of the time), it’s a focus issue. If you’re playing hard but you’re distracted, it looks like you’re just not playing hard enough. Whatever the Grizzlies need to do to encourage that level of focus and awareness on defense, they need to do, sooner rather than later, because otherwise nothing much about this team works well.

Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol are a weird fit together. This point is pretty much lifted wholesale from a conversation I had with Peter Edmiston during last night’s game: Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans play basketball so differently that they’re essentially playing different sports. Gasol is obsessed with each possession, and with Playing The Right Way on each possession, making each pass neatly and quickly, facilitating before looking to score, moving the ball and probing the defense. Evans is an improvisational layup genius, able to slice through defenses all by his lonesome and contort his body to make layups in traffic very few other humans can make, but he’s not looking to facilitate unless he can’t make the basket himself. (That said, he did finish with 9 assists last night, and made some great drive-and-kick plays down the stretch). Gasol is the human embodiment of Pass First. Evans is the human embodiment of I’m Gonna Get To The Rim And See What Happens. It’s a strange mix, and it’s going to be a while before they get comfortable together, if ever.

Tweet of the Night

This about sums it up:

Up Next

With any luck, the rhythm the Grizzlies found during the comeback attempt carries over into the four-game home stand they just started. Saturday sees their last (!) matchup against the Houston Rockets, Monday the Trail Blazers are in town, and Wednesday they play the Mavericks (and noted basketball warlock Rick Carlisle will attempt to slap-chop Fizdale’s game plan all to pieces again).

It remains to be seen how long Mike Conley will be out. It was a fait accompli that he’d miss some time with an injury at some point this year; if anything, it’s fortunate that it’s happening now and not later during a more crucial stretch. The Griz are .500 now, and frankly with all of the things they’re figuring out on the fly, it’s hard to see how much better than that they can get without a healthy Conley on the floor. I say that, but this team seems to get better when they’re missing players—maybe because it eliminates the focus issues Gasol was talking about. Who knows. At any rate, they’ll do well to go 2–2 on this home stand given how the Rockets are playing, and that would keep them right where they are: .500.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Beyond the Arc Podcast #87: Where are Conley and Gasol?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 8:23 AM

bta_004.jpeg

This week on the show, Kevin and Phil talk about:

  • The Grizzlies’ loss to the Bucks, and the bad vibes on their road trip
  • How Tyreke Evans is the Grizzlies’ best player so far this year
  • My first haiku recap of the year
  • Seriously, though, what’s wrong with Conley? What about Gasol?
  • Should Chandler Parsons start? (No.) Should the Grizzlies buy him out? (Phil thinks so, but no.)
  • The Kings look bad, and somehow Phil’s Knicks don’t.
  • The upcoming week: home against Indiana, Houston, and Portland
  • Is it good or bad that the Grizzlies won’t play the Rockets with Chris Paul?

The Beyond the Arc podcast is available on iTunes, so you can subscribe there! It’d be great if you could rate and review the show while you’re there. You can also find and listen to the show on Stitcher and on PlayerFM.

You can call our Google Voice number and leave us a voicemail, and we might talk about your question on the next show: 234–738–3394

You can download the show here or listen below:


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bucks 110, Grizzlies 103: Haiku Road Recap

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 11:08 AM

Mike Conley will be good again someday, right? Right? - JOE MURPHY (NBAE/GETTY IMAGES)
  • Joe Murphy (NBAE/Getty Images)
  • Mike Conley will be good again someday, right? Right?

The Grizzlies lost to the Bucks last night. They usually lose in Milwaukee–they haven’t won there since 2014–but last night’s version was especially frustrating, since they did it on the backs of lethargic, scattered play from Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, while wasting another very strong (to the tune of 27 points on 69% shooting) bench performance from Tyreke Evans.

Sometimes, prose isn’t up to the task of conveying the reality of human emotion. Sometimes the only appropriate vessel for the most intensely human experiences is poetry.


1.

Conley is garbage
The fall leaves are turning red;
So is his shot chart.

2.

The birds migrate south.
Marc Gasol against the East:
So does his effort.

3.

A deer sprints through trees–
He cannot be stopped, nor slowed.
Tyreke in the lane.

4.

The bench has stood tall.
The starters sleep as though bears
Hibernate early.

5.

Marc and Mike are bad
Until they return to life
Fall will turn colder.


Friday, November 10, 2017

The Hustle Report: Week 1

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 8:50 AM

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
  • Memphis Grizzlies
Introductory Editor's Note: now that the Grizzlies' G League affiliate is located here in Southaven, there are twice as many games to cover. As much as I love basketball — especially the garbage time variety — that's a lot of games. So we here at Beyond the Arc had a board meeting and decided what to do: send our Hustle Intern, Sam Cicci. He's going to be reporting weekly on what the Hustle are up to. Mostly, I think he's just happy we let him out of the supply closet we keep telling him is an office. — KL

The Memphis Hustle’s first week of competitive existence offered a mixed bag results-wise. Last Saturday, a promising start to the G-League franchise’s season was cut short as they let a large lead slip against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. The Hustle, led by Grizzlies two-way player Kobi Simmons, remained mostly consistent throughout the first half but ultimately succumbed to Skyforce’s third quarter surge.

Simmons scored nine of his 25 points in the first quarter to help the Hustle take the lead, while the teams matched scoring at 27 points apiece in the second quarter to leave the Hustle ahead 60-51. Everything looked rosy as Grizzlies assignee Ivan Rabb (20 points on 6-7 shooting) and Vince Hunter (23 points) stayed hot to give the team an 18 point lead, but after that, it all went downhill as Sioux Falls roared back. The Hustle’s first-quarter shooting percentage (57%) dropped over the course of the game. The third quarter, when Skyforce gained the lead, saw a drop to a measly 33.3% shooting statistic for the Hustle. Skyforce held on for the rest of the game and finished with a four-point lead, 116-120.

That sluggish momentum unfortunately carried into next day’s home game against the Salt Lake City Stars. In the early goings, the Hustle defense struggled to contain Stars point guard Nate Wolters’ penetrative runs, which created simple layups for his teammates or a kick out to the three point line for an open look. Meanwhile, on the offensive end, Hustle players were continuously forced to dribble into traffic and take contested shots for much of the first quarter. The Stars managed to pull out to a 25-12 lead, but the Hustle managed to claw it back to a one point deficit by the end of the half thanks to vital contributions from Trahson Burrell (20 points, 14 rebounds).

With a little over nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the score was tied at 81-81. The Hustle embarked on an 8-0 over the next few minutes and didn’t trail again, closing out the game with a 102-99 scoreline to record the franchise’s first ever win. There were encouraging signs after the victory; Ivan Rabb (16 points, 12 rebounds), Vince Hunter (13 points, 12 rebounds), and Burrell all recorded double-doubles, while Marquis teague, Omari Johnson, and Simmons joined them in scoring into double figures. For fans of new Grizzlies signings, Sunday’s game offered a return to the court for shooting guard Ben McLemore. While the experience was mainly about building fitness and sharpness, a few of his confident drains from the three point line should provide a boost when he returns to NBA action against the Rockets this coming Saturday. “You can tell he’s a bigtime NBA player,” says Hustle coach Glynn Cyprien. “And that’s not just because of his shots, but because he plays with a certain pace and a certain confidence.”
If the past weekend’s games are anything to go by, the Hustle’s inaugural G-League season should be packed full of dramatic, closely-contested games. It was encouraging to see the team stand back up after an opening-day defeat, but the second game against the Stars provided some clear insight into some of the team’s strengths and weaknesses. The Hustle’s first quarter deficit was partly owed to their poor shooting from beyond the arc, where they went 5-of-27 vs. the Stars’ 13-of-30. However, Memphis managed a steady resurgence thanks to their domination of the glass, 55-40, with a huge edge in offensive rebounds at 20-9. That aggression is what coach Cyprien wants to see from all of his players. “At times we’ll have Grizz guys, sometimes we won’t, but we need this to be consistent, and tonight all our guys were very consistent on the glass. It could have been really easy for them to lie down during a back to back and make some excuses, but they didn’t. I think we’ve got a quality team here.”

If these back-and-forth games keep up, it’s going to be a wild, frantic season at the Landers Center, even if it looks like the Hustle’s turtle mascot is sometimes asleep in his chair. If the close, nervy games aren’t quite your thing, there’s always the bounce-castle tucked away behind the court. Good thinking, Hustle.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Beyond the Arc Podcast #86: "Mario Made A Ridiculous Play"

Posted By on Fri, Nov 3, 2017 at 9:06 AM

bta_002.jpeg

This week on the show, Kevin and Phil talk about:

  • How Phil said Jeff Green was decent for the Cavs, but Kevin is not having it
  • Whether Andrew Harrison can really keep starting if he’s going to struggle like this
  • Fizdale got outcoached by Rick Carlisle and probably by Steve Clifford too—but roster limitations limit his ability to adjust
  • A comparison of Dave Joerger and David Fizdale
  • Fizdale’s epic rant after the Orlando loss
  • Mario Chalmers’ meltdown against Orlando, and whether it was a fluke. (It probably wasn’t.)
  • Tyreke Evans’ huge (huge) game against the Magic
  • How long can the injury histories of the Grizzlies be kept at bay?
  • Should the Grizzlies pick up Jahlil Okafor if he becomes available? Why did he have so many problems in Philly?
  • The Grizzlies’ upcoming road trip to LA and Portland this week
  • Why do teams always play poorly in NYC and LA matinee games? Phil knows because of JR Smith’s Twitter activity.
  • Whether there will be a show next week, given Phil and Kevin’s proximities to their respective deathbeds

The Beyond the Arc podcast is available on iTunes, so you can subscribe there! It’d be great if you could rate and review the show while you’re there. You can also find and listen to the show on Stitcher and on PlayerFM.

You can call our Google Voice number and leave us a voicemail, and we might talk about your question on the next show: 234–738–3394

You can download the show here or listen below:


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Magic 101, Grizzlies 99: Five (Cranky) Thoughts

Posted By on Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 8:28 AM

Tyreke Evans scored 32 on 65% shooting in last night's loss. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Tyreke Evans scored 32 on 65% shooting in last night's loss.

The Grizzlies lost to the Orlando Magic last night, 101–99, and they just flat-out shouldn’t have. Orlando is playing well—they rolled into town as the #1 team in the Eastern Conference—but not so well that the Grizzlies could afford to make the careless mistakes and poor plays that they did last night. It’s their second straight loss, and the second of the season in which they sabotaged themselves rather than just being outworked. (I’m counting the Charlotte loss in that latter category, because Charlotte as an excellent defense and put the clamps on the Griz in the second half. There were no clamps last night.)

I have five thoughts about what went wrong for the home team last night, and though most of them are similar, the subtle differences roll into one slightly cranky narrative of a team that just didn’t do many things right.

Five Thoughts

Mario Chalmers played like hot garbage in crunch time. After Marc Gasol came to life and tied the game at 97, and then immediately put the Grizzlies on top by 2, Chalmers had three of the most bone-headed possessions I’ve seen from a championship player to close out a game. He turned the ball over on the base line; he blew a fast break layup by anticipating contact instead of, y’know, trying to make the layup (which I can only assume was a wayward tribute to the departed Tony Allen); and then in a pick and roll with Marc Gasol on a play that could have put the Grizzlies ahead, he went around the screen and immediately pulled up his dribble, sat there a few seconds with it, and launched a bad three.

To be fair, Chalmers owned his mistakes after the game, and said he felt like he cost the Grizzlies the game. I find it hard to disagree. I was reminded of all those Heat championship years when everyone always seemed to be yelling at Chalmers.

David Fizdale looked like this most of the night. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • David Fizdale looked like this most of the night.

David Fizdale put his team on blast after the game, and then told us everything he said. It wasn’t just Chalmers who caught hell from the coach after the game. In the press conference, in what I can only assume was a G-rated version of the rant he’d just unleashed on the players, Fizdale said “We didn’t deserve to win this game. Our huddles were a joke, our communication was ridiculous. No one owned anything tonight.” Asked about Chalmers’ handling of the end of the game, he said “Mario made a ridiculous play.”

His frustration was apparent. He praised Marc Gasol’s leadership and his efforts to get the game back on track, but other than that, he seemed very frustrated by the team’s demeanor from moment one of the game. He went on to stress the teachability of these kinds of games, that he was going to watch it a couple more times and make the team do it too. He also pointed out that the Grizzlies were trying stuff like lobs off the backboard (Tyreke Evans’ missed connection to James Ennis) with the game on the line.

Fizdale’s bluntness has gotten him in a little bit of hot water with players before, but last night there’s no way they could have disagreed with his assessment. Nothing was working for the Grizzlies on either end of the floor for long stretches of last night, and even though they built up a double-digit lead at one point that only made them even more casual and even less willing to dig in and communicate. It’s worth monitoring what the team chemistry situation is as they leave town for a long pair of road trips; these issues could get worse before they get better, and if they do, batten down the hatches.

Andrew Harrison - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Andrew Harrison

Andrew Harrison is barely able to stay on the court. Harrison made some nifty plays last night when the game tightened up, but for the most part, he was not good, and without Mike Conley the Grizzlies’ starting lineup was even worse than it has been, which is no mean feat. Single game +/- is not often instructive, but it can point you in the right direction, and last night Harrison was –18 in a 2 point game, in only 20 minutes of play. (And Jarell Martin, the other young guy currently starting because of injuries, was –23 in 19 minutes. Whether or not these numbers are very meaningful, they’re not not meaningful.)

The bottom line is that the sooner Ben McLemore and/or Wayne Selden return from injury and push Harrison back down towards the bottom of the rotation, the better. His defense is good, but he still lacks any other distinguishable NBA skills, and he’s just not good enough to carry major minutes as a starting shooting guard. There’s no one else to start if Fizdale wants to keep the bench unit of Chalmers, Evans, Brooks, Parsons, and Wright together, but he may be forced into further experiments while awaiting Selden and McLemore. It just doesn’t seem like this bad of a starting lineup is in any way tenable.

The longer these guys stay hurt, the worse the Grizzlies will get. With Conley out, an uncertain injury situation became a bad one. One hopes he’s just taking it easy because it’s early in the season. JaMychal Green’s absence is certainly felt on the defensive end. And Selden was never supposed to have been hurt this long in the first place, and was expected by many (including me) to be the starting 2 guard until McLemore returned from his foot injury to challenge for the spot. The net result is a Grizzlies team that has about seven players who play well together but needs to play ten guys to make it through a game. If guys don’t start coming back soon, I don’t see any way they do more than tread water, and headed out on the road for a couple of weeks, that has the potential to get very ugly. Because:

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

This group of personalities has not gelled completely yet. There are young guys, brash characters like Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers, whatever you want to call Chandler Parsons, the quiet solid guys like Ennis and Wright, and Conley and Gasol’s still-evolving leadership roles. There are a lot of opportunities for the chemistry on this year’s Grizzlies team to go south, and they may be coming up on one of those opportunities with this road trip.

Fizdale seems to have a handle on what’s going on, but he can only do so much, and with the injuries taking a toll on what the team is capable of, the Grizzlies, this early in the season, are already in a bit of a pressure cooker, having so outperformed early expectations. I think things might get weird.

Tweet of the Night

If I’d had six thoughts instead of five, the bonus one would have been that Tyreke Evans scored 32 points last night, and shot 65% from the floor. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him shoot as well as he’s shooting so far this year, which bodes well for how the Grizzlies can use him. But last night wasn’t just about shooting jumpers:

Up Next

The road awaits. A pair of games in LA this weekend, one a Saturday matinee against the Clippers (and the Grizzlies almost always lose road matinee games, same as every other team who goes out on the town in LA the night before—which is to say every team in the league). Then it’s up to Portland, before coming home and heading back out on another road trip without playing a home game.

The chemistry is the thing to watch. Can the Grizzlies correct the issues they’ve developed in these two losses, or will the added isolation of a road trip only intensify and deepen their issues? That’s the story of the next week.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hornets 104, Grizzlies 99: Five Thoughts

Posted By on Tue, Oct 31, 2017 at 7:44 AM

Mike Conley continues to struggle. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Mike Conley continues to struggle.

The Grizzlies finally lost a home game on Monday night, falling 104–99 to the Charlotte Hornets after leading by as many as 13. A lot of things combined to take down the home team on Monday night but the biggest story is that the struggles of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol finally caught up with them. Conley and Gasol shot a combined 8 of 33 (that’s 24.2% for those of you keeping score at home) and the rest of the offense went cold as they tried to chuck any and every three point opportunity that came their way so the Grizzlies could keep up. That’s never really worked for this Memphis team, and it’s not about to start working now.

Here are five takeaways from last night:

The Grizzlies can’t pretend they’re a 3-point shooting team. Totally restored vintage Chandler Parsons or no, the Grizzlies have yet to win a game when they’re shooting threes at the expense of initiating any other offense. Last night, the shots weren’t falling, and in the third and fourth quarters, the Grizzlies refused to compensate by taking the ball to the rim. A good deal of credit for this, obviously, goes to Charlotte’s defense—but certainly not all of it. The offense stagnated when it started trying to shoot over the Hornets’ defense instead of working through it. The Grizzlies took thirty five threes last night and only made 8 of them. That’s never going to be a winning formula, especially if they’re all coming in half court sets instead of in quick offense generated off of defensive stops.

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

The starters are bad. Period. The bench has bailed out the team in every win so far, and with Conley and Gasol both struggling now in addition to Andrew Harrison and Jarell Martin (maybe “because of” rather than “in addition to” but I haven’t rewatched enough game tape yet to say that), there’s no relief in sight unless (1) Selden or McLemore and JaMychal Green return to the starting lineup or (2) Gasol and Conley miraculously pull themselves out of the slump they’re in. Given that Selden’s injury was supposed to be a short thing—Fizdale even said at one point during the preseason that they were targeting an opening night return—I’m not sure what his timetable is anymore. But the sooner the starting lineup can be filled with slightly less marginal NBA players, the better.

Dillon Brooks finally looked like a rookie. He hesitated to take shots last night, defended well but also got burned a few times, didn’t shoot well even when he got good looks. The whole rest of the team looked like that too, but last night was the first time I’ve seen Brooks look so tentative, like he’s still so young and pure of heart that he was shocked when Gasol kept feeding him the ball instead of trying to drive. Those of us who have watched this team a long time know better. Speaking of which:

The offense got some great looks for the wrong guys. Ball movement is meaningless of Jarell Martin is the guy you’re hoping will hit a bunch of crunch time 3’s, or that Dillon Brooks will somehow save you. The Grizzlies, and Gasol especially, were overpassing down the stretch of the fourth quarter, kicking out to guys who were open for a reason. I’d be more upset about it if Gasol hadn’t been doing that since about 2009. (Remember all those times he fired a beautiful skip pass to a wide-open Tony Allen instead of taking it to the rim?)

Charlotte is good. This was not a loss to a bad team. The Hornets are #7 in the East, but I think they’ll rise in the standings as the season grinds on. The Grizzlies are somehow still in first place, having only lost one conference/division game and only two games overall.

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

Tweet of the Night

From happier times in the first half when it looked like the Grizzlies were rolling, fueled by another big scoring night for the bench:

Up Next

The Grizzlies, #1 in the West, take on the Orlando Magic, #1 in the East before the Celtics finally pushed them down to #2 yesterday. No one expected either of these teams to be anywhere near as good as they’ve been to open the season, so this should be an interesting test game to see how good they really are.

Historically, this is a game that the Grizzlies would not get up for, so it’ll be interesting to see what kinds of effect that has on the starting five. But Orlando, like the Grizzlies, does not look to be a bad team that’s randomly hot; they look like they’re legitimately better than people expected. Should be a good one.

Also, when these two teams played in preseason, Jarell Martin did this to Bismack Biyombo, so Orlando has to play with four players. I think that’s how that works.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Grizzlies 103, Rockets 89: Five Thoughts

Posted By on Sun, Oct 29, 2017 at 7:50 AM

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

The Grizzlies pulled off a big win over division rivals the Houston Rockets last night at FedExForum, 103–89, and the final score is actually closer than the game felt by the end. The 5–1 Grizzlies now have two wins over Houston already. Houston, without Chris Paul and Eric Gordon, was unable to keep up with the Grizzlies’ second unit on either end of the floor, which is the story of the young season for Memphis so far.

The Griz are lucky the bench had a big night, because wasn’t a pretty game for the starting unit. But more about that later. Here are five thoughts about what happened last night and What It All Means:

Chandler Parsons had himself a game. For the first time in a Grizzlies uniform, Chandler Parsons looked like the platonic 2014–15 ideal of Chandler Parsons. In 18 minutes, Parsons scored 24 points on 9–11 shooting, including 6 of 8 from 3. Most of that came in even less time than that. Not shown in the box score is the time he drove the lane on Ryan Anderson and dunked, which I think we can all agree is something that seemed unlikely (if not impossible). After the game, Mike Conley said the last time he saw Parsons play that well was when Parsons played for Houston and dropped “about 10 3’s” on the Grizzlies, and Parsons referenced the same game in his postgame interview. At any rate, it’s been a long time since Parsons has been that player, and it was wonderful to see it happen last night.

I had no expectations for Parsons this year. I thought it was possible that me might not be able to play at all, and so did people inside the organization. But all year long he’s been solid defensively, and as he’s gotten more comfortable in the flow of the game, his shot has returned to him as well. Even if he never has this sort of outburst again, the fact that he’s able to be a key contributor to a very good second unit is a positive outcome for everyone involved, and makes for a much happier vibe around the season. Good for Chandler Parsons. Maybe his Instagram manners will come around next.

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

The Grizzlies’ depth is their strength. The Grizzlies beat the Rockets by 14 points, led by as many as 19, and didn’t have a single starter score 10 or more points. The leading scorer among starters was actually Jarell Martin who finished with 9. Counting the basket made by Deyonta Davis after the game was in garbage time, the Griz bench was responsible for 67 points last night, compared to the Rockets’ bench’s 25. The Grizzlies are crushing people without any starters on the floor this season. It’s been the story all along. But last night it was even more important, with the injury-hobbled starting lineup failing to get anything done.

After the game, coach David Fizdale had some interesting things to say about how he’s approached the bench. With the injuries to JaMychal Green, Wayne Selden, and Ben McLemore, the starting lineup is sure to change as guys come back, so Fizdale has focused on keeping his second unit—Mario Chalmers, Tyreke Evans, Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, and Brandan Wright—as cohesive as possible while letting the starters carry the weight of the missing players.

That explains why Andrew Harrison and Jarell Martin are still starting, especially Harrison, who has struggled mightily and played his worst game so far last night. Green is sure to return in Martin’s spot, and one assumes either Selden or McLemore will start in Harrison’s spot, whichever is healthy first. But if the bench unit is staying together, including sensational rookie Dillon Brooks, either Selden or McLemore may find himself on the outside looking in once they’re all back. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out as guys return.

Dillon Brooks is smooth. That’s all I have for this one. Brooks had 6 points and went 2–7 from the field, and even in an “off” night I was impressed by his poise on the court. He guarded James Harden some. But his pull-up 3 in transition showed an ease with the NBA game that the Grizzlies haven’t seen in a young guy in years.

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

Mike Conley’s struggles are not getting better. Conley was flat-out bad last night. Marc Gasol was off, too, but he’s had enough MVP-like games that he gets a pass. Conley, on the other hand, struggled for all four quarters last night, unable to turn it on for the final frame like he has in other big games this year.

When I asked Fizdale about it postgame, he pointed out that defenses are keying in on Conley even more than in the past, and it’s taken some time to get used to it. He also pointed out that he’s not worried—that he knows Conley’s game will come around when it comes around. Last night the Grizzlies were able to see their way to a blowout without Captain Clutch, but one wonders how many more big wins they’re likely to get with Conley and Gasol both in single digits.

Tyreke needs to facilitate more instead of looking guys off. Yeah, right. But he did miss white-hot Parsons wide often for three, more than once.

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Tweet of the Night

Up Next

Monday night, the Grizzlies take on the Charlotte Hornets at home, and then Wednesday night the home stand wraps up against the Orlando Magic. Given the Grizzlies’ track record against East teams, especially mediocre-to-bad ones, it’s anybody’s guess how these next two play out (although the Magic are currently on top of the East standings, so I suppose anything is possible). After that, it’s a weekend in LA, which we’ll talk about more later in the week. For now, the Grizzlies are back on top of the West standings, and anyone who says they saw this start coming is probably full of it.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Beyond the Arc Podcast #85: Thrown Mouthguards

Posted By on Wed, Oct 25, 2017 at 9:11 AM

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This week on the show, Kevin and Phil talk about:

  • The 3-0 Grizzlies' victories over the Pelicans, Warriors, and Rockets (which actually happened!)
  • The impressive defense from the Grizzlies, ahead of schedule
  • Mike Conley's three bad quarters and one great one against the Rockets
  • The ejections of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, and the Chalmers/Harden scuffle
  • Chandler Parsons' not-dead-yet first three games
  • The week to come: Dallas twice, Houston again, and Charlotte—can the Grizzlies go 8-0?

The Beyond the Arc podcast is available on iTunes, so you can subscribe there! It'd be great if you could rate and review the show while you're there. You can also find and listen to the show on Stitcher and on PlayerFM.

You can call our Google Voice number and leave us a voicemail, and we might talk about your question on the next show: 234-738-3394

You can download the show here or listen below:


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Grizzlies 98, Rockets 90: Road Rundown

Posted By on Tue, Oct 24, 2017 at 8:54 AM

Tyreke Evans - JOE MURPHY (NBAE/GETTY IMAGES)
  • Joe Murphy (NBAE/Getty Images)
  • Tyreke Evans

Fresh off a victory over the Warriors, the Grizzlies went to Houston last night and beat the Rockets 98–90 in a classic, Grind-inflected battle of wills. It was an unexpected win, but once the game got going, you could see what was happening: the Grizzlies’ defense, well ahead of schedule, was driving Houston crazy, and as usual, the offense was just doing enough to break even. A fourth-quarter outburst from Mike Conley pushed the Grizzlies over the edge (and the Rockets over the edge of frustration) and the Griz were suddenly 3–0 and in possession of first place in the Western Conference. (You can go on and start the playoffs now, Mr. Silver.)

Here are four key points from last night, in abbreviated “road game” form:

TA left, but Grit and Grind did not. I thought the Grizzlies would struggle on defense this year, but in Tony Allen’s absence they’re actually doing a better job implementing the system Fizdale tried to put in place last year. The Grizzlies switch now, and they do it well, and the fact that they’re all bought in instead of gambling for steals at every opportunity might mean they’re actually better off. If driving the opponent’s star player to draw a frustration-based tech while holding the score under 100 isn’t Classic Grizzlies, I don’t know what is.

Jarell Martin has to get better defensively. Houston saw a weakness in Martin’s pick and roll defense and exploited it ruthlessly. Of course, he’s not the intended starter at that spot, but until JaMychal Green gets back, Martin needs to do a better job of holding down the fort on that end. I was having Zach Randolph Western Conference Finals flashbacks watching him get burned on possession after possession.

James Ennis is the best starting small forward since Rudy Gay and it’s not close. I said that already after the Warriors game but I think people are still sleeping on this fact.

The second unit is going to get weird when the injured guys return. I’m not sure who I’d give the minutes to right now, or from whom I would take them. The current ten-man rotation feels straight out of the Hubie Brown playbook.

Tweet of the Night

Up Next

The Grizzlies are in Dallas Wednesday night and then return home Thursday night to play… Dallas. After that it’s another matchup with the Rockets, this time in Memphis, on Saturday night, which—given the near-fisticuffs between James Harden and Mario Chalmers near the end of last night’s game—may get interesting.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Grizzlies 111, Warriors 101: Five Thoughts

Posted By on Sun, Oct 22, 2017 at 8:50 AM

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

Saturday night at FedExForum, the Grizzlies pulled off an improbable win over the defending champion Golden State Warriors in a game that was really only ever close in a few spots. After taking the lead somewhere in the middle of the first quarter, the Grizzlies put their collective foot on the gas and never looked back, leading by as many as 19 points in the third quarter.

I won't say I was shocked by last night's outcome—the Grizzlies have had the Warriors' number for a long time now, and there always seems to be at least one game per year in which the Grizzlies get in the Warriors' heads and camp out for a while. But I didn't expect the Grizzlies to look so dominant, or for the bench to outperform the starters so thoroughly. (Well, except Marc Gasol, but we'll get to him in a bit.) It was a good all-around win for a team with a lot to prove, and it came much earlier in the season than was probably fair to expect. For all of the doom-and-gloom about the Grizzlies headed into this year—and make no mistake, they're only two games in and there are still questions yet to be answered—it does seem like maybe the "rebuild in place" is happening a little faster than the national basketball commentariat predicted. Here are five other things that stood out about last night:

Marc Gasol is not from this planet. Gasol ended last night with 34 points on 16 shots, 14 rebounds, and a career-high 17 free throw attempts. Gasol was everywhere last night, shooting 50% from three, cooking in the post, defending well, pulling down rebounds at a rate we've never seen before1, and mostly making up for Mike Conley's off night in every statistical category. It was a marvelous game from him last night, one of the best I can remember in a long time.

If Gasol is going to play like this all year (barring the nights when the conditions just aren't right for him to create his basketball art) the Grizzlies are going to make the playoffs, simply by the sheer force of his will towards perfecting each individual possession.

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

The current second unit is unstoppable so far. Mario Chalmers, Tyreke Evans, Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, and Brandan Wright got the Grizzlies the lead in the first half and played a big role in their keeping it. Gasol already had a double-double by halftime but the rest of the Grizzlies' starters stumbled out of the gate a bit, and it was up to the bench to salvage the situation. Chalmers only took 4 shots but got to the line for 8 FT attempts, Brooks ended with 9 points but was more impressive on the defensive end (except for the few times he got burned, because, y'know, rookies get burned), Parsons was 2 of 4 from 3 and moved the ball well, and Wright, even though the stat sheet doesn't really show it, kept things moving with his length and athleticism.

It's been quite a while since the Grizzlies had a bench that was this reliable. And they did this, last night, missing two or three rotation players (JaMychal Green, Wayne Selden, and Ben McLemore, all of whom will presumably play—though maybe not if Brooks continues to perform at this level). I wrote in my season preview that the Grizzlies' wing rotation top-to-bottom was better than it's been in a long time, and I think even then I wasn't positive enough. The bench is good. This, apparently, is a seriously deep team.

Jarell Martin probably isn't ready to be a starter yet, but held his own. Martin got the start in place of the injured Green. Before the game, head coach David Fizdale said he wanted to start Martin as a test to see where he's at, but also that Martin's versatility "fits this game." Once the game was underway, one could see what he meant: Martin seemed overwhelmed at times against the Warriors' starters, especially when the Griz defense started switching more rigorously, but he was able to make plays with his athleticism that he 100% would not have made in the previous two seasons. There is real growth happening there with Martin, even if it's still the early stages of what he can be. "Everyone's consensus pick to be cut at the end of camp" to "starting against the Warriors in Game 2" is a heck of a recovery.

James Ennis is the starting 3 the Grizzlies have needed for five years. Since Rudy Gay was traded, the Grizzlies have had issues at the small forward spot. Tayshaun Prince was a good facilitator and defender but he was on the downslope of his career and his shot had mostly started to fail him. Jeff Green was apparently on the Grizzlies for a while. Chandler Parsons was forced to start for 20 minutes to rehab his knees and clearly couldn't play. But this year, with Ennis in that spot, he's everything they've needed for years. He's athletic, he can defend, and he doesn't need to produce much offense, but when he does, it's extremely efficient. Ennis was 6 for 6 last night, finishing with 13 points, and it felt like all 6 of those made field goals were lob dunks or putbacks. He's the cleanup guy, not doing anything flashy but making sure the Grizzlies aren't leaving points on the board. Every game he has like this I get retroactively more upset that Dave Joerger once cut him to re-sign Ryan Hollins. Sure, when the Griz signed Parsons, the plan was for Ennis to be farther back in the rotation while Parsons manned the starting 3 spot. But plans change, and Ennis has changed them as much as any other circumstances have. If only this Ennis had been on the 2014 or 2015 Grizzlies.

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

The defense is much farther along than I expected it to be. Last year's model of Tony Allen was not the Tony Allen of old; he'd lost a step and was making up for it by gambling for steals and cheating into passing lanes, often leaving Marc Gasol home alone under the rim to deal with whatever got past Allen. But even with that being the case, I still wondered what the Griz defense would look like without him. It's been seven years since I had to think about it.

Last night was at least an early sign of what this team can be defensively. Fizdale and Gasol both stress repeatedly that the defensive end is still their focus, and last night it showed. Everyone was locked in, forcing 17 turnovers, holding the Warriors under 40% from the field, frustrating ball handlers and denying the ball to anyone not named Durant or Curry. Durant finished with 29 and Curry finished with 37. Klay Thompson had 14, but most everyone else on the roster finished with 0, 2, or 4 points (though Shaun Livingston had 8). They switched, and it worked. I repeat: They switched, and it worked. This is not the 2013 Grizzlies, who overloaded the strong side and stayed there until Tony Allen forced a turnover. This is a totally different defensive system than the one in which Marc Gasol once won a Defensive Player of the Year award, and yet it's still working for them. Maybe he can win another one.

Tweet of the Night

It's a tie. First, from noted Warriors fan Jacob Greenberg of The Diss:

Then, Marc Gasol is going to cause Klay Thompson to run up an expensive therapy bill for this one:


Up Next

The Grizzlies are in Houston Monday night to take on the Rockets, who find themselves without Chris Paul. Without Paul, the Rockets look to be... exactly like they were last year, when they were really good. Even after knocking off the Warriors, in some ways Monday's game is more important; the Griz play the Rockets four times by November 18, which is insanely early to be completely done playing a divisonal opponent. They need to win as many as they can even while it's the first month of the season, because the West playoff race will be tight and every tiebreaker they can rack up now will undoubtedly pay off later. If Paul is out that whole time, maybe that helps, but the Rockets were a very tough out for the Grizzlies last year even without him. In some ways, it's a more interesting test of where the Grizzlies are this early in the season than the Warriors game.


  1. Let's pause for a moment to ponder that Gasol, at this point in his career, has simply decided, "Now I will be good at rebounding," and is immediately a force to be reckoned with on the glass. Is there anything more "Marc Gasol"?


Friday, October 20, 2017

Beyond the Arc Podcast #84: The Dillon Brooks Era

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 9:37 AM

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This week on the show, Kevin and Phil talk about:

  • The dawning of the Dillon Brooks era
  • Chandler Parsons' new life as the Grizzlies' backup power forward
  • The injury to JaMychal Green, and whether Jarell Martin is ready to step into his role immediately
  • The void left by Tony Allen's departure and the emotional tribute during Wednesday night's game
  • The development of Andrew Harrison
  • The Grizzlies two big upcoming games against the Warriors and Rockets

The Beyond the Arc podcast is available on iTunes, so you can subscribe there! It'd be great if you could rate and review the show while you're there. You can also find and listen to the show on Stitcher and on PlayerFM.

You can call our Google Voice number and leave us a voicemail, and we might talk about your question on the next show: 234-738-3394

You can download the show here or listen below:


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Five Notes on Grizzlies/Pelicans

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 9:50 AM

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

The Grizzlies started the season with a win last night, defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 103-91 and creating several new narratives in the process. You can find straight recaps of game action elsewhere—I want to talk about what I think matters from last night.

Five Things

Dillon Brooks is for real. He’s going to have bad rookie games, and maybe even more of them than good ones, but last night showed that his preseason performance wasn’t fool’s gold: he’s an NBA player, and most likely sooner rather than later. Last night Brooks got hot and stayed in the game all the way through the end, racking up 19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks in one of the most impressive rookie debuts by a Grizzly in a long time.

There will be growing pains, of course, and no rookie starts off good and only gets better without some bumps along the way. But Brooks has a confidence about him and a smoothness and ease to his game that make me very hopeful for his future in Beale Street Blue. Last night was a coming-out party for a young guy who is certainly worth watching.

This is Mike Conley’s team, still. The playoffs proved it, but last night was another point of evidence. Conley was masterful, with no sign that it was the first real game of the season—he picked up right where he left off in the San Antonio series. The result was one of the quietest 27 points on 15 shots I’ve seen. Conley was dominating the game without looking like it, while the crowd’s attention was focused on other things. One hopes he can maintain this form all year.

Conley’s night was also a stark contrast to Marc Gasol’s. Gasol’s first quarter was bad, he got things going a little in the second half, and then he fouled out. Obviously, the Pelicans’ big man tandem of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis had something to do with that, especially with Gasol’s new focus on rebounding. But that wasn’t the whole story; Gasol just looked off, as he is wont to do when conditions aren’t perfect. Whether this is a single off night or a bad start to the year remains to be seen, but given the shape Marc is in and that he’s been playing all summer because of Eurobasket, he shouldn’t have those kinds of cobwebs.

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

Chandler Parsons finally looked like a basketball player, if only for a little spell. He came in struggling, missed some free throws, got some boos (which Grizzlies fans seem to love doing early in the year to guys who already have shaky confidence, because Memphis remains inexplicable) but—for the first time since signing a 90-whatever-million-dollar contract last summer—he had a stretch where he played well! (Yes! That merits exclamation points!) After the rough start, over a span of a few minutes, Parsons hit a couple of shots, facilitated some nifty plays with drives and kicks, and even played excellent defense on Anthony Davis, which I’m still not sure I believe even though I was present when it happened.

That’s not to say all is well with Parsons, who pretty clearly will never be a third-piece-of-a-big-Three small forward again because he’s just not fast enough anymore. But last night showed promise: even in a diminished role, the Grizzlies would just be happy for him to be productive somewhere in the rotation making things happen, and ultimately he’s probably more reliable than some of the younger guys would be in the same role. Even that seemed like it would never happen again, and last night it did for a little while. Shelve those career obituaries for a little bit longer.

The JaMychal Green injury could make things interesting. Green left the game early last night after rolling an ankle pretty badly (which, after the Hayward injury in Boston, made everybody’s stomach a little uneasy until he eventually made it back to his feet and they were still pointing the right direction). If he misses any significant time, it might be Jarell Martin who fills that spot in the rotation, and last night he wasn’t ready for that workload yet.

Granted, I’m going to wait until he’s not dealing with Boogie and AD to make a more solid judgement. New Orleans has issues, but the quality of their starting big men isn’t one of them. But Martin, who played his way back from the brink of being cut by demolishing everything in his path during camp, will have to perform against those kinds of players if he has a future as a starting power forward. We’ll find out, and maybe faster than we would have liked.

I remember why I was excited about Brandan Wright. After he struggled with injuries for two straight years, it was easy to forget why the Grizzlies signed Wright in the first place and wish they’d traded his very reasonable contract. But last night, he showed what they signed him for, defending well, making athletic plays at the rim, setting Conley up for pick and roll baskets that no other big on the roster would have facilitated, and more. I hope he can keep it up, because this Brandan Wright makes the Grizzlies better, much faster and more athletic, and more fun to watch.

Tweet of the Night

Up Next

The Warriors, Saturday night. But we can talk about that more tomorrow; for now, let’s bask in the glory of a promising start to the year. My season preview went out in this week's Flyer, and is now online. I have a lot to say about what I think this year's Grizzlies team is going to be, and I said most of it there.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Grizzlies to waive or trade Baldwin, Zagorac today

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 12:45 PM

Wade Baldwin IV - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Wade Baldwin IV

The Grizzlies have until the close of business today to get down to the official 15-man opening night roster, and it's been a matter of some speculation who would be the final players waived.

As first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and confirmed by the Flyer, the two guys on the outside are Wade Baldwin, IV and Rade Zagorac.

The decision to cut bait with Baldwin is no doubt the more frustrating of the two. Taken in last year's first round, Baldwin failed to develop in a way that the Grizzlies found promising, and you only have to do a couple of Twitter searches to find evidence that he lacks a level of self-awareness and maturity to indicate that growth would be happening any time soon.

As for Zagorac, it seems like the Grizzlies signed him to a guaranteed deal simply to keep him from signing a multi-year deal with Mega Leks or some other European team, essentially paying him a million bucks to try out for the team. So while it's not ideal that the pick didn't pan out, the stakes are also somewhat lower given that the only reason Zagorac is being cut and not Jarell Martin is that Martin came into training camp and preseason playing at a level he's never shown before.

You win some, you lose some. There are other guys they could've taken with both picks who would've panned out better, for sure, and especially with Baldwin, who frankly should've been able to play better than Andrew Harrison and Kobi Simmons if he wanted to keep his spot. It's frustrating to see a team so historically starved for development letting go of two young players who have shown promise, but also admirable to see them admit the mistake, cut the sunk costs, and move on. It also speaks to how unlikely it was for Mario Chalmers to make a nearly-full recovery into a solid backup point guard.

At any rate, now we know who the 2017-18 Grizzlies will be, barring any unforeseen transactions. Let's hope the players who won the battles for roster spots continue to show why they were the ones to keep.


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