Thursday, March 12, 2020

NBA Suspends Its Season

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2020 at 9:58 AM

The NBA announced it has suspended its season indefinitely in the wake of a Utah Jazz player who was positively diagnosed with COVID-19. It has been reported the player is Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert. 
Rudy Gobert - NBA.COM
  • NBA.com
  • Rudy Gobert

Statement from the NBA:

The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, tonight’s game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena.

The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to ESPN, five of the Jazz’s recent opponents that have been told to self-quarantine. The teams are the Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons.

Statement from the Grizzlies:

We fully respect and support the NBA’s decision to suspend all games in light of the impact of COVID-19. Measures taken to protect the health of our players, staff, and fans are the correct ones.

For all ticket buyers and fans, we are working through information as we receive it and will provide updates as soon as we have them available. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work through this together.

The Memphis Grizzlies flew to Portland on Wednesday and were set to play the Trailblazers tonight. 


Later Wednesday night, the NBA G-League announced that it was suspending its season, as well. 

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Monday, March 9, 2020

Jaren Jackson and Justice Winslow to Play Soon

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2020 at 5:57 PM

Jaren Jackson Jr.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.




Good news from the Memphis Grizzlies Monday afternoon regarding Jaren Jackson, Jr and Justice Winslow. The team announced Jackson and Winslow both are likely to return within the next week.

Jackson
has been sidelined since February 21st due to a knee injury and Winslow has not seen playing time with his new team since being traded. Winslow suffered a back injury while playing with the Miami Heat and has been out of action since January 8th.

Brandon Clarke suffered a right quadriceps strain on February 24 against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Grizzlies announced Clarke is progressing well in his recovery and is expected to return this season.

Jackson and Winslow are likely to return to action as soon as the Grizzlies' upcoming three-game road trip that begins Thursday in Portland against the Trailblazers, who are also vying for the 8th seed in the Western Conference.

With just over a month remaining in the regular season, Memphis holds a four-game lead over the ninth-place Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans.


New Locker Room Procedures
The NBA will take active precautionary measures against the coronavirus, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. He reported that the NBA will prohibit non-essential personnel from entering team locker rooms, including media. The league will reportedly keep media members at a six-to-eight feet distance from players.

Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) issued a joint statement on Monday: 

“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms, and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting."

Statement from the Memphis Grizzlies regarding the new directive:

"This will go into effect starting with our game tomorrow against Orlando, and we will have one interview room available for each team's media availability starting with shootaround. The media dining room located inside the Don Poier Media Center will now be turned into a mixed-use press conference/dining room on a consistent basis for Memphis Grizzlies media availabilities (practices, shootarounds, pre and postgame). For tomorrow's shootaround, please gather in the media dining room and we will take interview requests from this location. The Memphis Grizzlies communications team will be happy to show credentialed media the location of the visiting team's interview room or answer any further questions."

I understand why the NBA is taking these precautions, but I wonder about others who have access to the players when they are not around their team. Will teams limit what players do outside of work? Will the NBA limit family members or business partners? Will the players and essential personnel be quarantined?

There are so many questions that need to be answered. But it is understandable why the NBA is being proactive in this situation.

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Sunday, March 8, 2020

Grizzlies Topple Hawks, 118-110

Posted By on Sun, Mar 8, 2020 at 9:53 PM

The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Atlanta Hawks 118–110 Saturday night in Memphis to keep a 3.5 game lead for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. It was the second time Memphis defeated the Hawks this week. On Monday in Atlanta, the Grizzlies throttled the Hawks by 39 points and held them to 88 points. 

Memphis has won 15 of its last 18 home games and improved to 18–14 this season at FedExForum. With the win, the Grizzlies moved back to .500 (32–32). 

Jonas Valanciunas posted his 32nd double-double of the season as he led the way for Memphis with 27 points, 17 rebounds, and three blocks while going 10-of-13 from the field. 

Ja Morant added 24 points (8–12 FG), five rebounds, and six assists while shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from the 3-point line, tying a career-best for threes made.


Josh Jackson continues to impress off the bench. He finished with 17 points, three assists, and four rebounds in 22 minutes. Taylor Jenkins is pleased with Jackson’s progress since he was called up from the Hustle, the Grizzlies G-League affiliate. Jenkins said after the game: “I think he has integrated himself very nicely. Credit to him — credit to his teammates. We have been encouraging our guys to continue and try to find a way to attack as a team and be more physical.” 

Jenkins added, “I feel like he was really embraced that. Playmaking at times, whether it’s pick-and-roll or fast-rate drive-and-kicks, I think he is doing a great job at that and just playing Grizzlies basketball offensively. Defensively, he is engaging in a lot of different matchups, guarding wings and guarding point guards. I think his on-ball defense has been solid and he has been using his length in a great fashion. He has a great ability to be in good rotations, help us on the boards, and knock rebounds out. I think he is contributing in a winning way.”

In addition to Valanciunas and Morant, all five starters scored in double figures for the first time since Jan. 29th against the New York Knicks. Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton added 13 points apiece while Kyle Anderson chipped in 12 points, going 5-of-7 from the field, including 2-of-3 from deep. 

First-year guard and two way player John Konchar continues to impress with his play. Konchar grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in 14 minutes of play off the bench. 

The Other Guys
John Collins led the Hawks with 27 points and eight rebounds, plus two steals. Trae Young added 16 points while going 4-of-16 from the field. Young missed the previous Hawks game due to flu-like symptoms. 

Kevin Huerter added 11 points, six assists, and five rebounds while knocking down 3-of-6 from three. As a reserve, Jeff Teague chipped in 10 points, three assists, and two rebounds in 20 minutes as the Hawks dropped to 19–46 on the year. 


Memphis said goodbye to Vince Carter
Carter played three seasons with the Grizzlies before eventually signing with the Hawks. He was given a standing ovation during his last visit to Memphis. Carter finished with five points and two rebounds. 

Up Next

The Grizzlies will host the Orlando Magic in Memphis on Tuesday, March 10 at 7 pm at FedExForum.

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Friday, March 6, 2020

Real Talk: Ja Morant Should Be the Unanimous Rookie of the Year

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2020 at 11:52 AM


A combination of recency bias and media-fueled hype have derailed the conversation regarding the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year award. Ever since late January when he made his NBA debut, there has been talk amongst media about New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson being in contention for Rookie of the Year, despite being sidelined the majority of the season.

This chatter is growing increasingly loud and hard to ignore, hence why I am writing this today. All this for a player who has played in only 17 games this season, and who would at most play 37 games — provided he plays every game left in the season.

Ja Morant
  • Ja Morant


Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have had the two best rookies in the league all season long in Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke. Clarke will likely remain unacknowledged, but Morant’s phenomenal play has been impossible to ignore. Morant has been the Rookie of the Year front-runner for most of the season, and for good reason. 

Even though it was widely predicted they would be hot garbage this season, the Memphis Grizzlies are light years ahead in their rebuilding process. In fact, the team that many predicted would have the worst record in the league has been sitting comfortably in the 8th seed since before Williamson played a single minute of regular season basketball. 

Moreover, the Rookie of the Year award is meant to spotlight achievement across the entire season. This would be impossible for a player who will have played less than half the season; it’s small-sample-size theater at best. It is unfortunate that Williamson’s rookie season has been marred by injury, but the fact remains that it has. 

There have only been four instances in league history of a rookie of the year recipient playing less than 60 games, and two of those were during lockout seasons: 

Kyrie Irving – 51 games - 2011-12 

Vince Carter – 50 games – 1998-99 

Patrick Ewing – 50 games – 1985-86 

Terry Dischinger – 57 games - 1962-63 

 

There is zero precedent for a player who has played as few games as Williamson has to be considered for Rookie of the Year, and now is not the time to start.

For the record, Morant isn't stressing about this in the slightest. Recently, before the game against the Atlanta Hawks, Morant said, “I honestly don’t care about Rookie of the Year. They can give that to who they want.” The first year guard said he's focused on getting the Grizzlies to the playoffs.


Morant has led a lottery team into playoff contention, no small feat for the first season of a rebuild. There has not been a player so dynamic and impactful so early in his career in a long time, and acknowledging Morant’s skill does not detract from Williamson in any way.  

Would this be a different conversation if Williamson had played since the beginning of the season? Possibly. But that isn’t how the season has gone, and there is no sense in pretending a comparison between Morant and Williamson would be equitable or accurate. 

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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Beatdown in Brooklyn

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 10:10 AM

screen_shot_2020-03-05_at_10.11.20_am.png

The Memphis Grizzlies have won three straight games — beating the Lakers by 17 last Saturday, and thumping their last two opponents by 39 points each. On Monday, Memphis defeated the Atlanta Hawks 127–88 and had a similarly decisive victory over the Brooklyn Nets 118–79 on Wednesday.

In those three games, the Grizzlies have held opponents under 90 points. No NBA team has done that since the Utah Jazz did it back in March 2018. After these massive shellackings, like Jay-Z, this young team is saying, ‘Time to separate the pros from the cons, the platinum from the bronze  — that butter-soft shit from that leather on the Fonz.”

This team is not messing around. 


Memphis has improved to 31–31 on the season. 


Grizzlies bench
In the last two games, the Grizzlies bench has scored 133 points (72 vs Hawks, 61 vs Nets). Wednesday night, Josh Jackson led the way with 19 points and two steals as a reserve while going 4 of 9 from three and he’s feeling "pretty damn good" right about now. 


Meanwhile, reserve point guard Tyus Jones added 18 points, six assists, and five rebounds off of 6-of-13 shooting and 5-of-6 from the 3-point line (career high) in 21 minutes of play. The Grizzlies connected on a season-high-tying 20 three-pointers.

Ja Morant chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 16 rebounds, plus nine points and two assists. Dillon Brooks added 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, and Kyle Anderson was also in double figures, with 12 points and five rebounds. 

Taurean Prince led the Nets with 15 points and five rebounds on 6-of-19 shooting, as the Nets dropped to 27–34 on the season. Joe Harris added 13 points, eight rebounds and two steals in 29 minutes. Caris LeVert totaled 14 points, six assists and four rebounds, while White Station grad Chris Chiozza chipped in with 14 points and three rebounds as a reserve. 

Up Next
The Grizzlies look to continue the winning streak as they visit the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. 

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Grizzlies Trounce Lakers, Snap 5-Game Losing Streak

Posted By on Sun, Mar 1, 2020 at 3:07 PM

via Memphis Grizzlies Twitter
  • via Memphis Grizzlies Twitter

Ja Morant led the Memphis Grizzlies into battle against the Los Angeles Lakers and dealt the Lakers their first road loss to a Western Conference team this season. In their 105-88 victory, the Grizzlies exhibited some lockdown defense and held the Lakers to their season-lowest scoring. Saturday night’s game snapped both a five-game Memphis losing streak and a seven-game Los Angeles winning streak.


Beatdown on Beale Street
This was a nice preview for what a potential first-round playoff series might look like. While still missing some key players due to injury, the shorthanded Grizzlies squad showed no fear as they put their collective foot on their opponent's neck and didn’t let up. It wasn’t a true wire-to-wire win, but the largest lead the Lakers held was two points in the first quarter, while the Grizzlies led by as much as 22. 


It was a much-needed win for a team that has been in a post-All-Star break slump and a powerful reminder of who the rightful Rookie of the Year should be. Morant had a game-high 27 points and was one of three Memphis starters to finish with 20+ points.

By the Numbers

Ja Morant: 27 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds.  

Dillon Brooks: 24 points 

Jonas Valanciunas: 22 points, 20 rebounds

Highlights and History-Making
Jonas Valanciunas registered his 29th double-double of the season. He also had a career-high 25 rebounds last night against Sacramento and became the first player in franchise history to grab at least 20 rebounds in consecutive games.


Morant leads all rookies in double-doubles and is the only rookie this season to achieve a triple-double. Last night was Morant's 11th double-double of the season with 27 points and 14 assists to go with six rebounds. He also became the second rookie in NBA history (Oscar Robertson) to record at least 27 points and 14 assists in a game against the Lakers.


Morant also gave a good-natured, post-game shoutout to a twitter user whose comment he says spurred on his phenomenal effort.


It was briefly the John Konchar show. The shortened roster allowed the two-way guard who has spent most of the season with the Memphis Hustle a chance to show out in his 10th career NBA game. Konchar finished the night with 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block on 2-2 shooting, over 12:25 total playing time.  

 


GrzNxtGen = 1st Team all-defense? The Grizzlies held the Lakers to a season-low 88 points, and Lebron James and Anthony Davis to 19 points and 15 points respectively. 

Last night's win put the Grizzlies 2.5 games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans for the 8th seed in the West.

Who Got Next?

The Grizzlies hit the road again for the next three games.
They will face off against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, March 2nd. Tip-off is at 6:30 PM CST

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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Grizzlies Drop Fifth Straight Game

Posted By on Sat, Feb 29, 2020 at 6:35 PM

On Friday night, before a sell-out crowd, the Memphis Grizzlies fell to the Sacramento Kings, 104–101. Memphis has now lost five straight games and hasn’t won since February 12 (against the Portland Trail Blazers before the All-Star Break).

The Grizzlies still hold a slim lead for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, as they fell to 28–31. The team has struggled without Jaren Jackson, Jr. (knee injury) and Brandon Clarke (hip).

And yet, with five consecutive losses, Coach Taylor Jenkins is still pleased with his team’s effort, especially in the final period. Jenkins said after the game, “Very proud of our guys. The way that we fought in that fourth quarter to give ourselves a chance to win a ballgame.” 

He added, “I hit them after the game and said, ‘We have to play like that from the start of the game.’ I thought we came out playing pretty well in that first quarter, definitely could have played a whole lot better, but that second and third quarter we kind of just had a little let-down there. But that fourth quarter, just the intensity that they played with  —  the fight, the grit  —  that’s what we’re going to need right now.”

“The guys are finding a way,” Jenkins continued. “Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to a win tonight  —  credit to the Kings. We threw a couple [of ] different things at them. They just made the right plays at the right time. Great passes to the roller, to shooters. They made the shots that they needed. We fell short a little bit with a couple of shots there in the fourth quarter and throughout the game, but the resolve and the competitiveness from our guys were great tonight.”

Dillon Brooks led Memphis with a season-high 32 points, before fouling out late in the fourth after playing nearly 40 minutes. Ja Morant added 20 points and 11 assists to mark his 10th double-double of the season. No other rookie in the league has more than five double-doubles of the season, according to Grizzlies PR.

Morant talked about how the team is processing the losing streak: “I feel like a lot of people are panicking; not us though  —  we know there are going to be bumps in the road. We know we’re going to face adversity. We’re just going to continue, keep our head high, keep positive energy, and just try to go out and get something good out of it. We’ve learned a lot from the games after the break, playing 48 minutes, having to compete, and knowing we have a target on our back.”

Josh Jackson led the Grizzlies’ reserves with nine points, three rebounds, and three assists. Jenkins spoke about Jackson's contribution to the team: "He’s [Jackson] getting better every single day. Continuing to find his comfort zone. As we’ve said, he just has to keep making an impact on the defensive end shooting the three, attacking downhill.

Jenkins added, "He’s playing with force on the offensive end, and he’s playing actively on the defensive end. That’s what we expect out of him. So the more he does that, obviously, for any of our guys, you make an impact on both ends that is winning basketball, you obviously earn more opportunities.”

The Other Guys

De’Aaron Fox led the Sacramento with 25 points, five assists, and four rebounds on 10-of-19 shooting, as the Kings moved to 25–34 on the season. Harry Giles III chipped in 16 points, five rebounds, and two assists on 8-of-14 shooting. Nemanja Bjelica posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Buddy Hield added a bench-high 14 points to go with four rebounds and two assists. 

HBCU Night and Memphis Legend Zach Randolph Returned Home

The Grizzlies honored HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) throughout the night. 

"50 for the City," Mr. Zach Randolph — respectfully known as ZBo — returned to Memphis for the first time since his retirement announcement in December. Randolph and former Grizzlies player Tony Allen will be ambassadors for the Grizzlies. There hasn't been a formal announcement by the team regarding the details.


Up Next
The Grizzlies have to get over the Kings game quickly,  because Saturday the team is back in action against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers at FedExForum. And this one won't be easy. Tip-off is at 7 pm CST.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

How Will Injuries Affect the Grizzlies' Playoff Push?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 3:18 PM

The injury bug has hit the Memphis Grizzlies. First, Jaren Jackson Jr. went down against the Los Angeles Lakers with a knee injury, and then Brandon Clarke, who replaced Jackson in the starting lineup, went down with a hip injury against the Clippers after just four minutes of play on Monday night at Staples Center. Both are to be re-evaluated in two weeks. How will these injuries affect the Grizzlies’ playoff chances? It's anyone's guess.

Jaren Jackson Jr. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.

The Grizzlies have lost three in a row and will be without Jackson and Clarke from seven to 10 games, or possibly longer, depending on the healing process. It doesn't help that Dillon Brooks and Jonas Valanciunas have been in a funk lately, averaging a combined 13.66 points over the last three games. With Jackson and Clarke out, the Grizzlies can’t win when Brooks and Valanciunas aren’t playing well. And rookie phenom Ja Morant can’t carry the load alone if the Grizzlies want to continue to make a push for the playoffs.

What will the starting lineup look like without Jackson Jr. or Clarke? 

Brandon Clarke - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Brandon Clarke

Josh Jackson more than likely will become a starter, since he has been more comfortable playing as of late. He is averaging 15 points over the last three games and has been helping when the Grizzlies' offense has gone stagnant. Gorgiu Dieng is another player who may get starter minutes. In the past two games, Dieng has averaged a double-double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

How will Coach Taylor Jenkins tweak it? He will certainly have to make adjustments. And Morant really might have to put the team on his back and play out of his mind until Jackson and Clarke return. And the now-depleted bench has to continue its strong play.

Memphis still has a hold on the eighth spot in the Western Conference at 28–29 on the season, three games in front of the Portland Trail Blazers, and 3.5 games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs.

Adjustments will have to come quick, starting tonight in Houston against the Rockets, who will have Russell Westbrook available to play. Westbrook hasn’t played in either game against Memphis this season. The series is tied 1–1.

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Trial by Fire: Can the Grizzlies Survive Without Jaren Jackson Jr.?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 24, 2020 at 12:53 PM

As the run-up to the end of the season approaches and the battle for the 8th seed in the West continues to heat up, the very last thing the Memphis Grizzlies needed was an injury sidelining one of their starters. But the injury bug is fickle, and it seems like no team is ever truly safe from its clutches. 


Jaren Jackson Jr.’s sprained knee and subsequent absence from the court are no doubt going to be problematic for the Grizzlies. However, it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Pushing through and continuing to stack wins without one of its best players will be a unique learning experience for the young squad, if nothing else.  

 

In the meantime, prepare for the inevitable wacky lineups that Coach Jenkins will employ to fill the nearly 7-foot void. Expect to see increased usage for both Brandon Clarke and Gorgui Dieng during Jackson Jr.’s absence. In addition to needing increased production from its bench unit, the Grizzlies will also need Jonas Valanciunas to be at the very top of his game. 

Brandon Clarke posterizes Ian Mahinmi - VIA MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES TWITTER
  • via Memphis Grizzlies twitter
  • Brandon Clarke posterizes Ian Mahinmi

It feels weird to be saying this in the first year of a rebuild, but every game from now until the end of the regular season counts if the Grizzlies want maintain their status as the 8th seed. The Portland Trail Blazers and the New Orleans Pelicans are staring down the same stretch of games with the intention of eliminating Memphis from playoff contention.

A Brief Rant: YGTMYFT
Now, let’s talk about free throws. Did someone decide that the Grizzlies just aren’t making them anymore and I missed a memo?


In last Friday’s match up against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Grizzlies shot an abysmal 51.6% from the charity stripe. In a game that the Grizzlies lost by 12 points, leaving those extra 15 points worth of free throws on the floor really stings.

If I am Coach Jenkins, every member of the team would be shooting at least 100 free throws during the next practice. 

This should be the easiest shot on the floor, one that any player can practice ad infinitum. The atmosphere in each arena may change, but fundamentally the process of shooting (and making) free throws does not. Scoring with the clock stopped is a valuable skill for players to utilize.  


If ever there was a hill I was willing to die on, this is the one.
You’ve. Got. To. Make. Your. Free. Throws.


Moving along...


Who Got Next? 
The Grizzlies will once again be playing in Staples Center tonight as they face off against Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers. Tip-off is at 9:30 pm CST, so be sure to grab one or more of your favorite caffeinated beverages beforehand.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

In Shy's Corner: These Grizzlies Exude Confidence

Posted By on Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 12:15 PM

One thing that can be said about the Memphis Grizzlies is that the young team ‘ain’t never scared' to compete with any team in the league. This bunch has told the entire NBA: “We ready, (we ready) … For y’all.”

Star rookie Ja Morant always exhibits with the confidence of David against Goliath: “Whoever I’m going against put on their shoes the same way I do, there is nothing I should be afraid of.”

Morant and his teammates truly believe they can compete against any team in the league — and it's showing. The team has a chip on its shoulder and is proving doubters wrong.

After a recent win against the Washington Wizards, Morant talked about the mentality of the team. He said, “It feels like we’re all just preaching the same thing. We have this mentality to just fight to the end, go out and compete. At the end, just try to get a win.”

In that interview, the three-time NBA Rookie of the Month took a shot at the haters for doubting the Grizzlies, “What were we supposed to win, 26 games this year? I think we just passed that. Appreciate you all who bet against us,” the Murray State alum said. 

The South Carolina native can back up his talk with his play on the court. In his first NBA season, Morant is averaging 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 7.1 assists in 29 minutes. He’s also Mr. Fourth quarter; Morant is ranked fourth in the league in fourth-quarter scoring with an average of 7.6 points. 

The 20-year-old is also the front-runner for the 2020 Rookie of the Year Award.

The other half of the dynamic duo, Jaren Jackson, Jr., has the same attitude as Morant. Jackson sat down with HoopsHype during All Star Weekend and shared his thoughts on proving everyone wrong.

The Michigan State alum said, “It was definitely motivating, because nobody really thought that we’d be in this position at this point. People just said to us, “Oh, you have time. Don’t worry about it! You’re young!” We kind of were just like, “We don’t care.” That’s how we play and how we are — we just don’t care.”

Jackson continued, “When we go out there, you have to put five on the court, just like we have to put five on the court. It don’t matter if you’re young or old. There’s only one basketball. You have to literally beat us down if you want to win this game against us, because we like to compete. We’ll have off nights, for sure. But at the end of the day, we’re going to play hard.”

Jackson also has the receipts to back up his talk. In his sophomore season, his TS% (true shooting percentage) is an exceptional 59 percent. Jackson is averaging 17.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, with 1.7 blocks (ranked 9th) per game in 28.1 minutes. 

Another young Grizz, Dillon Brooks, feels the same way as his teammates. (“Dillon Brooks always talks shit,” said one of my colleagues who covers an opposing Western Conference team.)

So it wasn’t surprising Brooks was the one who called out former Grizzlies asset Andre Iguodala near the trade deadline. According to the Commercial Appeal’s Mark Giannotto, Brooks said, “A guy that’s on our team doesn’t want to be on our team. I can’t wait til we find a way to trade him so we can play him and show him what really Memphis is about.”

Brooks got support for his remarks from his teammates and Grizzlies fans. Eventually, Iggy was traded in a deal to the Miami Heat, along with Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill. The Grizzlies ended up with Justise Winslow, Gorgui Dieng, and Jordan Bell when the dust settled. 

Brooks had some parting shots for Iggy after the trades were finalized. 

Brooks is having a career year with 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. The third-year guard only played 18 games last season due to injury, after playing all 82 games in his rookie season. Memphis is 17–1 when Brooks scores 20 or more points.

The Grizzlies are 28–26, two games above .500, and have a hold on the eight seed in the Western Conference, with a five-game lead in the loss column on Portland. 

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Real Talk: The One Where I Walk It Back for the Stretch Run

Posted By on Tue, Feb 18, 2020 at 11:35 AM

Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr.
  • Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr.


As everyone is winding down from the excitement of All-Star Weekend and we enter the stretch run to the end of the regular season, now seems like a good time to publicly rescind a thing that I said here in this space last month.

At the time, it seemed like a pretty reasonable position – this early in a rebuild, the playoffs shouldn’t be the season’s goal, and thus the Grizzlies should continue their focus on developing as a team, not altering plans in a pursuit to win now.

It was not meant to disparage any part of this fledgling squad. I didn’t realize how many people would misinterpret it or just be plain mad about it. I’m looking at you, Memphis Twitter. 


But now the trade deadline has passed and with it my biggest fear (an ill-advised roster move in an effort to win now). The Grizzlies seem to have landed organically in the 8th seed, so I’m ready to reconsider my previous position on the playoffs. 

Two things have set us on this path. One, this team has been light years better than anyone expected. Two, other teams in the West have been a lot worse than expected.

It’s amazing how much can happen in the space of a month. Since I published that article in early January, the Grizzlies have played 16 games, posting a 12-4 record, including a seven-game winning streak.

During that time we have also seen: a career-high scoring game from Brandon Clarke, Ja Morant’s first NBA triple-double, and the aforementioned players, plus Jaren Jackson Jr. playing in the Rising Stars Challenge game during NBA All-Star Weekend.

Along the way the team has managed to surpass the overall expected win total they were predicted to have, with still 28 games left to play in the regular season.  


This squad has absolutely proven me wrong and I am not above admitting that.

They truly are so much better than anyone anticipated, and I can’t recall having this much fun watching winning Grizzlies basketball in years.

There is a part of me will always feel sentimental about the Core Four era of Grit 'n Grind. That team meant a lot to this city, and even in today’s RINGZ culture, that still means something. 


But I have quickly grown to love the new GNG era, the #GrzNxtGen one. If this is the future of our franchise, I will take it.

So, in conclusion: F*ck it, let’s go to the playoffs. 

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Grizzlies' Rising Stars at NBA All-Star Weekend

Posted By on Sat, Feb 15, 2020 at 1:15 PM

clarke-morant-jackson.jpg

Brandon Clarke went up against teammates Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson, Jr. in the NBA Rising Stars game. Clarke started on Team World while Morant and Jackson started on Team USA. The game began with Morant lobbing to Jackson for a bucket, but Clarke had the best stats of the trio. 

The Canadian finished with 22 points, eight rebounds, and two assists, including some dazzling dunks. Jackson had 12 points and seven rebounds and Morant added 10 points and six assists, including some highlight plays, to lift Team USA to a 151–131 win. 

After the game, Clarke spoke to the media about playing against his teammates. “I was just kind of in awe watching them really,” Clarke said about Morant and Jackson. "So I wasn’t really telling my teammates what they were going to do. I actually would just say, 'Jaren is pulling left heavily,' which he did. But that’s pretty much it.”

Clarke added “It’s kind of cool guarding Ja, because I see why he is so tough to guard. I think he had a really good finish going left on me and I see why that shot is so hard to block. I’ve seen Ja do that move so much going left and doing that double layup and I still couldn’t stop it. So it shows how hard it is to guard him.”

Ja Morant talked about playing against Clarke.  “Brandon [Clarke]? It definitely was,” Morant said when asked if it was odd playing against his teammate. “I kind of knew what he was going do, though. So, I got out of the way on a couple dunks. I tried to box him out early because I know he likes getting rebounds and then dunking it back.” 

“We are just young, very athletic and just get out and run,” Morant said about the Grizzlies team. “I feel like we all have something to prove. We just go out with this chip on our shoulder. We keep proving people wrong.”

More quotes from Morant:

What was it like to play with all those guys you have never played before?

It was nice. I mean, like they said, Rising Stars. That’s what this game is for, for guys coming up in the league trying to be big-time players. Definitely special playing with the best young talent in this NBA.

Can you talk about your first NBA All-Star experience?
It was just having fun. I attack every game the same way. Obviously today is not the same as playing with the Grizzlies, but still have fun.

Any butterflies for this game?
No, I don’t even get nervous for games anymore. I feel like at the end of the day, it’s basketball and there is nothing I should be afraid of, because whoever I’m going against put on their shoes and stuff the same way I do. 

How do you feel about being in your first NBA All-Star and doing all the NBA Cares stuff in this city and the message it sends to the local youth?
It’s special. Had fun, enjoyed every bit of everything that I was involved in this weekend. Hopefully, I’ll be in a lot more. 

What kind of things are you looking forward to this coming weekend?
Enjoying it, that’s it. Having fun. It’s my first one. My family is here and we are all going to enjoy it.

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Morant Saves the Day as Grizzlies Top Wizards 106–99

Posted By on Mon, Feb 10, 2020 at 3:59 PM

Ja Morant
  • Ja Morant

Is anyone else sensing a pattern here? It will almost certainly not be the last time we witness Ja Morant put this Grizzlies team on his shoulders, but watching it against the Wizards on Monday reminded me of just how special a player this young man is. Down five heading into the 4th quarter, and by as much as 12 earlier in the match, it seemed as though it was all over but the shouting. Spoiler alert: Reader, it was not. 

It’s a bird...it’s a plane...it’s SuperJa! 

If you didn’t think some variation of that phrase last night during the 4th quarter of the Grizzlies @ Wizards game, do you even basketball? 

Messed Around and Got a Triple-Double
Morant achieved his first ever NBA triple-double against the Wizards. When the dust had cleared, Morant led all scorers with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.


The Good
Ja Morant’s 4th quarter heroics combined with some lockdown defense won the game, as Memphis was able to hold Washington to just 14 points on 4-25 shooting in the final frame. 

Brandon Clarke finished the night with 9 points and 6 rebounds, including a clutch 3-point make in the 4th that helped spur the team to victory. 

The Grizzlies came up big in the 4th on both the offensive and defensive glass, with 6 offensive rebounds and 17 defensive rebounds. You did read that correctly, Memphis had 23 boards in just the 4th quarter. Most of those rebounds came courtesy of ... you guessed it: Ja Morant.
Overall, the Grizzlies won the rebounding battle with 62 total boards to the Wizards 50. 


The Bad and the Ugly
Once again, outside shooting woes plagued the squad, with just 5-of-32 makes from distance. This is the second game in a row where the Grizzlies have struggled to get outside shots to fall. Free throws were also a struggle as the Grizzlies went 15-of-25 from the charity stripe.

Turnovers remain a problem for Memphis as well, as does preventing their opponent from converting those turnovers into points. Case in point - the Wizards scored 18 points off the Grizzlies 15 turnovers. 

The Grizzlies might have the highest assist percentage in the league, but the Wizards came out ahead with 25 assists on 35 made baskets, while Memphis had just 19 assists on 43 made baskets. 

Jaren Jackson Jr.  and Dillon Brooks both got into foul trouble early. Unfortunately, this is a familiar story from Jackson Jr.  and Brooks this season, and an area I hope we will see some improvement on after the All-Star break. 

 

By The Numbers:

Ja Morant – 27 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists 

Kyle Anderson – 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 assists 

Jaren Jackson Jr. - 14 points, 11 rebounds 

Jonas Valanciunas – 8 points, 18 rebounds, 2 blocks 

Tyus Jones- 13 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists 

 

Who Got Next?
The Grizzlies will return to their home court Wednesday night, as they face off against the Portland Trail Blazers in the last game before the All-Star break. Tip-off is at 7PM CST

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Oh, What a Night! Grizzlies Win — On the Court and Off

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2020 at 10:51 AM

What a Wednesday night for the Memphis Grizzlies! The team was in Dallas to face the Mavericks when a pending trade was announced and Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill were pulled from the lineup. 

The Grizzlies have traded Andre Iguodala to the Miami Heat, according to ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski. And Justice Winslow is part of the trade package that has yet to be officially announced, as other teams are reportedly trying to finish a deal with the Grizzlies and the Heat. The trade deadline expires today at 2 p.m. CST. 

Meanwhile, on the court, a short-handed Grizzlies team went up against the Mavericks, who were without their star player, Luka Doncic. The Grizzlies pulled off the victory, 121–107. 

Tyus Jones - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Tyus Jones

The Grizzlies bench outscored the Dallas second unit 54–26, led by point guard Tyus Jones, who finished with a career-high 19 points, including 13 in the third quarter. Jones ended with a perfect night, going 8-of-8 from the field along with 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. The former Duke product became the second player in franchise history to shoot 100 percent from the field (min. 8 FGA) and make at least three three-pointers since Vince Carter did it on March 13, 2017. 

Also contributing off the bench were Brandon Clarke ended with 18 points, six assists, and three rebounds in 24 minutes of play, and De’Anthony Melton, who added 10 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. 

Starter Ja Morant put up a team-high 21 points off of 10-of-12 shooting, with three assists, while Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 19 points, going 7-of-15 from the field and 4-of-8 from the 3-point line. The win improved the Grizzlies to 26–25, putting the team over .500 for the first time this season. 

For Dallas, Kristaps Porzingis had a game-high 32 points (10–20 FG, 5–11 3P), 12 rebounds, and two assists. Jalen Brunson chipped in 20 points, six assists, and two rebounds on 6-of-14 shooting. Tim Hardaway Jr. totaled 14 points and six rebounds. Former Grizzlies Courtney Lee added eight points, going 3-of-4 from the field. 

Dillon Brooks - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Dillon Brooks
Dillon Brooks' contract extension
The Grizzlies also announced last night that the team has signed guard/forward Dillon Brooks to a multi-year contract extension. Reportedly, the deal is worth $35 million dollars over three years. 

In his third NBA season, the 2017 Pac-12 Player of the Year is averaging 16.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 28.4 minutes through 51 games and is the only Grizzlies player to play and start in every game this season. Brooks has earned his way to being a part of the future of the franchise, alongside Morant and Jackson, Jr. 

His teammates took to Twitter to congratulate him on the his new deal. 

Quotes from Jaren Jackson Jr.

On going 13–3 over the past 16 games:

“Honestly, we usually forget these kinds of things, but it’s cool to hear it. It’s one of those things where you just have to take the good and the bad but keep understanding that there’s always more to be done. We don’t really dwell on anything too much but it’s nice to hear these things.”

On not having their veteran players on the court:
“It was tough. I experienced it last year. It was the same kind of thing. Everybody got moved right before the OKC game last year and that was tough. You kind of get a feel for what may happen, but you’re never really ready for it. I’m just glad we won.”

On growing from adversity:
“We just tell everybody in the locker room that it’s time to be a pro. We have to show why we’re here. It’s not just about playing hard. At the end of the day, this is our job. We signed up for a lot more than just a game itself, and sometimes that brings emotions. You don’t have to forget about your emotions. You just have to channel them the right way. Channel them to winning and doing good things. That’s what they would’ve wanted us to do anyway.” 

Who Got Next?
The Grizzlies will continue their road tour on Friday, February 7 to face the Philadelphia 76ers at 6 p.m.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Real Talk: What Should the Grizzlies Do With Andre Iguodala?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 4, 2020 at 2:02 PM

Andre Iguodala - NBA.COM
  • NBA.com
  • Andre Iguodala

As the NBA trade deadline looms ahead, the media conversation around what the Grizzlies should do with Andre Iguodala has started up once again. It has been an interesting conversation, to say the least, and lots of people have had lots to say about it. Including some of the Grizzlies' young core, via locker room quotes and social media.  




For those who have been living under a rock this NBA season and haven’t kept up with this whole Iguodala mess, here is a brief rundown:  


  • Golden State sent Iguodala and a 1st round pick to Memphis, so they could make room to sign D’Angelo Russell.
  • Iguodala had been very publicly adamant about his refusal to suit up for the Grizzlies and made it clear he wouldn’t report to training camp. 
  • Rather than stir up drama going into the season, the Grizzlies allowed him to sit out, ostensibly until a trade was found for him.

  • Iguodala made it clear he was not willing to negotiate with the Grizzlies on an equitable buyout, demanding his entire contract value. 

  • Throughout the course of the season, Iguodala has made several public remarks with some not-so-thinly veiled shade towards Memphis.
  • Now the trade deadline is quickly approaching, and it appears Iguodala has made it known through his agent that if he isn’t traded to one of his preferred teams, he is prepared to sit out the rest of the NBA season. 

Which brings us to where we are now.

It has been said that there was a mutual agreement before the season started between the Grizzlies front office and Iguodala, in which the latter doesn’t have to participate in anything team-related while waiting for a trade or a buyout.


This is where the Grizzlies front office may have shot themselves in the foot, as that decision makes it a lot harder for them to do the thing they should have done from the start – order him to report and then fine him for every day that he doesn’t. 

However, it is important to note the order in which these things happened, before declaring that the Grizzlies are the bad guys here. There is a provision in the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which seems written for situations such as this.
According to Article XI, Section 3:

“A player who withholds playing services called for by a Player Contract for more than thirty (30) days after the start of the last Season covered by his Player Contract shall be deemed not to have “complet[ed] his Player Contract by rendering the playing services called for thereunder.” Accordingly, such a player shall not be a Veteran Free Agent and shall not be entitled to negotiate or sign a Player Contract with any other professional basketball team unless and until the Team for which the player last played expressly agrees otherwise.”

 

It is unclear if the Grizzlies could pursue this option, since there is nothing in writing excusing Iguodala’s absence. Likely this would cause more drama than the front office wants to deal with, but if I’m part of this front office I would definitely investigate this option further. While we are at it, the league should keep the same energy with Iguodala's public comments that they had for Dewayne Dedmon after he made public comments about desiring a trade.

Here’s what they should NOT do under any circumstances: give Iguodala any sort of buyout or waive him from the team while he can still go join a playoff contender. Let him sit until this summer, and try his luck on the market as a free agent.

 

The Grizzlies' former Vice President of Basketball Operations John Hollinger seems to be thinking along these same lines. 


With roughly two days to go until the NBA trade deadline, whatever happens will likely happen soon. 

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