Memphis Grizzlies: Stepping up in the face of adversity

Memphis Grizzlies: Stepping up in the face of adversity

The Memphis Grizzlies are coping well during the 2020/21 campaign despite the injuries that hit the team in the last few months. Head coach Taylor Jenkins gets the best off the players he has at his disposal making the Grizzlies a dangerous team.

Memphis is playing in a blue-collar attitude, which helps the team get over the injuries and the talent-gap between other teams in the tough West. As a result, Memphis is on a 10-10 record, while they wait for most of the players to return from injury.

A huge number of players in the roster missed games due to injury this season. In particular, Jonas Valanciunas, Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke, De’Anthony Melton and Grayson Allen missed or still missing games because of injury.

At the top of that, two key figures of Taylor Jenkins’ rotation are out with long-term injuries as Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justice Winslow still recovering from the previous season. In that type of adversity, the Grizzlies seem to excel stepping up as a team.

Effort over talent

The Grizzlies fight for every possession, every loose ball and every bucket they get. The current roster of the Grizzlies seem to have the mentality of the ‘next man up’. In that concept for example, Kyle Anderson can make a career-high 6 threes to help his team put an end to a four game losing streak as he did vs. the Hornets on Wednesday.

Memphis will find a way to remain competitive and that starts in the defensive side of the basketball. The Grizzlies are 12th in DefRtg allowing 110 points per 100 possessions. Taylor Jenkins’ philosophy is based on the Milwaukee Bucks’ model, where the team is building a ‘wall of hands’ inside the paint area.

As a result, Memphis is the top team in deflections and steals as they put their hands in the passing lanes to create easy baskets in the open court, especially when Morant is on the floor. Jenkins presents a ‘light-footed team’, which can change in every screen and put pressure on the opponent.

The Grizzlies are using their disruptive defense to find their traction in offense, while they are taking care of the ball being 15th in turnovers and 1st in assists per game in the NBA. At the top of that, they are preventing their opponents from finding second chance points being a Top-10 team (45.5 per game) in rebounding.

The Bench Mob

The bench of the Memphis Grizzlies is not getting the recognition it deserves so far this season. The bench mob is lighting up their opponents scoring 41.3 points per contest. The players coming off the bench outscore their opponents by 2.3 points per 100 possessions shooting an impressive 41.9-percent on 14 attempts from three.

They are also second in the league at Field Goal Percentage shooting at a 47.6-percent clip only behind the 2020 NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers (49.1%). Tyus Jones is instrumental on running the offense, when Ja Morant is not on the floor, while Desmond Bane and Gorgui Deng are lighting it up shooting over 48% from deep.

At the top of that, Grayson Allen and De’Anthony Melton helping Jenkins to put different combinations of guard tantrums on the floor depending on the situation. At the same time, Xavier Tilman and Brandon Clarke help with their defensive versatility to cover for the guards’ defensive missteps.

Expecting to return to normalcy with Morant and Jackson

The Grizzlies hold off their opponents at their toes thanks to their effective play as a team with Ja Morant being also away from his usual self since his ankle injury at the start of the 2020/21 campaign, despite being the leading scorer of his team.

Since his return on Jan. 16, Morant averages just 15.6 points on 41.9-percent from the field. During this span, the 2019 Rookie of the Year did not score more than 19 points in a game. The Grizzlies will need Morant to return to his best self to remain competitive in the West.

Moreover. Justice Winslow is ready to return to action soon, while Jaren Jackson Jr, is steadily progressing to his return as he works back from a torn meniscus. Memphis is also hoping for a quick return for De’Anthony Melton and Brandon Clarke, so Taylor Jenkins could have all his weapons at his disposal after the first part of the season ends on March.

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