Taking a Look at Memphis After Win Against Warriors
The Memphis Grizzlies have had a very impressive 2-0 start to the season. First, taking down the Pelicans in their season opener and then stunning the Warriors with a double-digit win on Saturday. I watched Memphis for the first time this season and I was very impressed with their new style of play and how well it is working for them. The Grizzlies looked like a different team out there than what we are all accustomed to seeing. Usually, when they play the Warriors, they are able to beat them by slowing the pace and grinding it out down low with Marc Gasol and former Memphis star, Zach Randolph. They do this to a lot of other teams too, but the Grizz seemed to be a team the Warriors had a lot of trouble with for the past few years. This year it was different. The Grizz are playing an uptempo style offense with quick outlets and running the break quite a bit. With that said, here are some of my takeaways from the game on Saturday.
Grit-and-Grind: Still a mentality, no longer a style of play
With Tony Allen and Zach Randolph both moving on from Grizzlies this past offseason, the grit-and-grind era in Memphis has come to an end. That era will go down in the franchise’s history as one of the best and most enjoyable to watch. It’s always nice to reminisce in the past but teams must be looking toward the future and how they can adapt with their new roster each year. David Fizdale has said that this season he wants his team to ditch their old style of play and play with more pace. So far this season and preseason they have done a good job accomplishing that. In the preseason, the Grizz ranked fifth in the league in pace. The ultimate test of pace is being able to keep up with the Warriors. They play fast and they are the best in the league at it. Memphis was getting up and down all game with Golden State but when I really noticed them taking off was in the third quarter. They were able to get out on the break and get a few alley oops and layups that really helped them keep their lead and keep momentum on their side. The Grizzlies have a much younger team now compared to years past which will allow them to get out and run this year. The Grizzlies are looking to change the way they are known for playing the game but still continuing to keep the culture of Memphis. Memphis will always be a grind it out team but now it is more of a mentality for them than it is a style of play.
Dillon Brooks: Future star?
Dillon Brooks is another sleeper in this year’s draft. He was selected 45th overall by the Houston Rockets and was then traded immediately to Memphis. Brooks has had two great games to open up the season and it is looking like he will have a big role coming off the bench. Memphis desperately needed to improve their bench this offseason. Brooks seems to be a reliable scoring option and will be able to provide them with valuable minutes off the bench. Through his first two games, Brooks is averaging 14 points on 55% while also contributing 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks on defense. Brooks is already looking like a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate to me. He was a star at Oregon in college and if he continues to play this way and earn more minutes, he could be a future star in this league as well.
Solid Roster: From the starters to the bench
One thing that a playoff team needs is a solid roster from the starters to the bench players. You can have a great starting lineup but it will be hard for a team to win without a productive bench, and vice versa. Although Memphis lost some of their key pieces from last year such as Randolph, Carter, and Allen, they still have a solid roster in my eyes. I overlooked Memphis to start the season and did not even have them making the playoffs. After seeing them play a few game I think I was wrong. They fixed their bench issues from last year by adding some scoring in Dillon Brooks and Mario Chalmers. Those guys are steady and will go out and compete hard every night to help the team get a win. They have two leaders and stars in Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Those are two solid players that can go out and get 20 points a game and defend at the other end as well. Their leadership and guidance will help the younger guys develop and become better players in the NBA. Overall, I’m excited to watch the Grizzlies this year and to see how their season ends up. They should be a fun team for anyone to watch this season.