GBB Site Manager Joe Mullinax gives his take on the offseason
The Memphis Grizzlies made some changes to the roster over the offseason between the draft, free agency, and the summer league. After drafting Jevon Carter and Jaren Jackson Jr. the Grizzlies created some solutions on the perimeter. First they signed Kyle Anderson from the Spurs. He had a good last season with the Spurs when he averaged near 8.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, and nearly 2.0 assists per game. Defensively, he can get steals and his wingspan can make him a force for Memphis.
The Grizzlies also acquired Omri Casspi. He is in his 10th season coming in from Golden State. He had some minutes and only averaged 5.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. He is a good knockdown shooter. The Grizzlies signed Casspi on July 11th.
Then there was the trade involving Deyonta Davis and Ben McLemore for Garrett Temple. Temple has his best season in Sacramento averaging 8.0 points per game. It is safe to say the Grizzlies are looking for specific skills and mentalities with this players.
So how do the roster changes and the free agent signings affect Training Camp and Preseason? I asked GBB site Manager Joe Mullinax for more details in our first GBB Q and A.
Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax): As many others have said here, there, and everywhere across the Grizzlies media universe, they’re getting high basketball IQ players with size on the perimeter, the ability to create off the dribble, and a propensity to defend a variety of players across the basketball positional spectrum. Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly in the long-run, the Grizzlies are getting players that fit their mold. They fit the archetype of a “Memphis player”, and that direction will benefit them if they are able to commit to it.
Mullinax: Yes, Jaren Jackson Jr. was the right pick. That’s me eating a little bit of crow, not because I thought he was never going to be good. I was worried he’d be a long-term project that would not be able to contribute to a team hoping to be good right away. Two summer league sessions later, and here we are looking at a player who has more tools as an offensive player than many, myself included, initially realized. He will be in the mix to start immediately and is a key piece of the future of Memphis. Compare that to what was available, and it is clear than while other possibilities would have worked out as well Jackson’s ceiling is so high that it will work out.
Mullinax: He, again, fits what Memphis wants moving forward. He’s a tremendous competitor as well, and that was really on display after summer league. I am curious as to how his career plays out compared to other point guard prospects that were on the board at that point, like Jalen Brunson and Khyri Thomas. For the Grizzlies, though, he showed he can do enough to be a serviceable 3rd point guard. They won’t need him to be the main back-up, because Andrew Harrison is still on the roster and has shown growth in his game. He has some time to develop, and may even go down to the Memphis Hustle some to get some live game reps this first season.
Hubbard: What are your top 5 highlights from the Grizzlies Summer League so far?
Mullinax: I really enjoyed the two Jevon Carter dominant games – he loves to play, and that passion is contagious. Jaren Jackson’s block parties, Markel Crawford’s hopefully successful Hustle audition, and the freakish athleticism of D.J. Stephens round out my top five.
Hubbard: Who is your favorite free agent signee and why?
Mullinax: Has to be Kyle Anderson. He brings such a unique ability to the Grizzlies in that he can create off the dribble and play positions 2, 3, and 4, with even a little bit of 1 and 5 in there depending on match-up. Even if Chandler Parsons had worked out, he would not have been able to do that. Anderson isn’t an elite athlete, and he isn’t a prolific scorer from range. What he is, though, is a smart basketball player who can defend and create in versatile ways. That will be fun to watch the next four seasons.
Hubbard: Are there any summer league players that could make the Grizzlies roster, Hustle roster, or become Two-Way contract players?
Mullinax: Aside from the obvious (Wayne Selden Jr., Kobi Simmons, etc.) I think Markel Crawford and Brandon Goodwin did their best to earn training camp invites, but will likely wind up with the Memphis Hustle. D.J. Stephens would be a fun two-way contract possibility, but it may not be in the mix for the Grizzlies because of his age. Those guys showed well and will likely earn opportunities somewhere, even if they’re not in Memphis.
Hubbard: Are the Grizzlies still Grit and Grind going into the paint or are they more of a 3 and D type team? Explain.
Mullinax: I think more than any marketing scheme, the Grizzlies are emphasizing defensive versatility and offensive execution. They have ball movers on their roster now who understand spacing and shooting and timing on offense better than they did a year before. They’re hoping that while being elite defensively they can play well enough offensively to pull out low-scoring wins. Is that “Grit and Grind”? I am not sure – I think that that is a bit insulting to Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, who really personified that era of Grizzlies basketball. They were the driving force behind that movement and identity.
This will be something new. The team will try to sell it as something fans are familiar with, hold dear still, and love. That’s fine – this next step will be more fun to watch than last season, regardless of what they call it.