The Week-side Help: Week 7 – Brave New World
Recapping the week as Memphis begins the post-Fizdale era mid-season.
Week 7 Results
Week 7 Storylines
-Head Coach David Fizdale was fired on Monday after 101 games, with a 50-51 record. Associate Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff was named Interim Head Coach | The entire Grizzly Bear Blues staff give their thoughts in two roundtables: reaction to the Fizdale firing and how the Grizzlies should move forward.
-Memphis has another winless week, going 0-3 and losing their 11th game in a row.
–Mike Conley update: The Grizzlies announced that Mike Conley will be out for “another 2-3 weeks” as he nurses his Achilles injury.
-Memphis minority owners exercise a buy/sell option, according to The Athletic. The option possibly begins a major ownership restructuring.
Week 7 Breakdowns
-What an incredibly short-sighted decision to fire David Fizdale. He is 101 games into his career, one built off of a great reputation as a coach and as a person (the latter being irrelevant to coaching, but important to his treatment). Paul Westphal was fired for prime Magic Johnson. Jerry Sloan was fired for Prime Deron Williams. David Blatt was fired for prime LeBron James. And Fizdale is getting the boot for an embattled relationship with Marc Gasol?
-Marc Gasol is one of this franchise’s pillars. His number will be retired like Tony Allen and Zach Randolph. He, however, is not worth firing a coach that represented the organization well and implemented a playing style more conducive to winning than the retro offense Memphis was sporting before Fizdale came to town. There are so many good coaches in the league that you need one who is well above average just to get your foot in the door with the contenders. Marc is turning 33 this year and is guaranteed about another $70 million for the next 3 years. I understand with the relationship between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale, one had to go.
But why hitch on to to the depreciating asset locking up your cap space opposed to the young(ish) coach who’s on the come-up? It’s possible the front office didn’t believe Fizdale would be worth it in the long-run if they chose to trade Gasol, but this front office has been incompetent and clueless and every step. They chose to keep Gasol and fire Fizdale in an effort to save the season according to team GM Chris Wallace. In mind-twistingly dumb fashion, they are too short-sighted to understand that once you fire your coach there is no season to save. It was technically done early in the season to have time to make up ground in the standings. So was the Rockets’ firing of Kevin McHale in 2015-16, and they ended up sputtering and sleep-walking to an 8th seed with James Freakin’ Harden.
We don’t have James Harden. Because the Grizzlies organization, whose front office was led by this very same GM, drafted Hasheem Thabeet one pick before (although it is believed former owner Michael Heisley made that selection, not Wallace himself).
Yet still, Wallace still has a job through all of that.
-What this firing does is continue to sweep poor personnel decisions under the rug. The Thabeet pick is old news, but still another sign this front office has no idea how to evaluate, then keep and/or acquire talent. To this point they have swung and missed on the Parsons’ contract, swung and missed on virtually every draft pick, and the contracts given to Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, while deserved at the time, are going to look abominable in their final years. This current roster isn’t particularly deep. The bench looked really good to start the season, but it was because it turns out our starters save for Marc and Mike are pretty replaceable by bench players. There are a few G-League or end-of-bench players getting serious minutes for Memphis, and that talent disadvantage is more likely to be the cause of their offensive struggles than what Fizdale was game-planning.
-The worst part is that Memphis hardly looks different from a basketball standpoint. It was a weird week since they played the Spurs two out of the three games. It’s hard to take any reaction away after playing the Spurs, but they dismantled the Grizzlies in FedexForum. It’s going to be a real tough transition to Bickerstaff for the rest of the year.
-Memphis could have actually gotten a win on Saturday. A real, actual win.
Official Permanent Lottery Watch of the Week
As of this writing, Memphis has the 5th-worst record and therefore the 5th-best odds at the #1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, according to tankathon.com
Please make me stop doing these updates, Memphis.
Week 7 Numbers to Know
-10.6- The Memphis Grizzlies’ net rating in their 11 game losing streak. If that were their rating the whole season (the losing streak is HALF the season so far), it would be 3rd worst, just ahead of Sacramento and Chicago, two real juggernauts. Instead of 28th, they’re 20th for the whole season, which isn’t much better. Not only have they been bad during this streak, they’ve been horrible. A bottom-feeder of a team. I know Mike Conley isn’t there, but there isn’t a single player in the league not named LeBron whose absence can turn a winning team into the 2014 76ers. Maybe the problems weren’t in the coach’s seat, but in fact much larger and worse. That’d be wild. I hope the General Manager would notice such a thing.
.267- The 3-point field goal percentage of Ben McLemore, signed for his 3-point shooting. McLemore has played in 11 games thus far and has looked wildly inconsistent. He’s been shooting the lowest volume of 3-pointers per game at the lowest clip of his career. Memphis traded Troy Daniels away thinking that Ben McLemore could replace his shooting production, but they were dead wrong so far. McLemore has one of the worst scoring efficiencies on the team on spot-up shots, which begs the question what is it CAN he do on offense? Memphis is going to need every bit of help they can on offense to turn this streak and season around.
Best Week 7 Performance
Tyreke Evans vs CLE, 31 pts (10-20 FG, 5-7 3P, 6-6 FT) 12 ast, 7 reb, 1 stl, 1 TO, -5 +/-
After a really weird game against San Antonio where Tyreke was extremely passive, he came out guns blazing again against Cleveland.
On Wednesday, Tyreke didn’t attempt a single field goal attempt in the first half. On Saturday, he pulled up for two 3-pointers early and wanted to be the aggressor all game. It was a sight to behold and appreciate considering the the anemic offense we saw from Tyreke and the rest of the Grizzlies on Wednesday.
This was a legitimately great game from Tyreke. I hope these performances will start to matter more (read as: happen in wins), but we gotta enjoy them while we can.
Week 7 Grade: F
Did you notice that there was no grade in last week’s Week-side Help? Me neither until after it was published! Not that the Grizzlies would have gotten high marks; I’m confident I subconsciously (unconsciously? I’m not a doctor) pushed the grade out of my mind so that I can think about the Grizzlies’ performance this season even less.
I am not so lucky this week.
Even if you disagree with the firing of David Fizdale, which I do, you’d have to expect the results were going to at least be different, no? Three losses in as many games for J.B. Bickerstaff isn’t any confirmation that a change in coaches would be the fix to save this season and I think that’s less and less likely to be the case this season. Their performance against Memphis looked better offensively against Cleveland, but that’s against a bottom-5 defense in the league.
F’s for this team until they get a win. The Cavs game was close, but it’s far too little, far too late.
Week 8 Schedule and Preview
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Memphis Grizzlies Mon. 12/4 (Tonight!)
Memphis Grizzlies @ New York Knicks Weds. 12/6
Toronto Raptors @ Memphis Grizzlies Fri. 12/8
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Memphis Grizzlies Sat. 12/9
This is one of the heaviest parts of the schedule for the Grizzlies. The schedule included 17 games in the month of December with 15 coming in the next 27 days, including back-to-back 4-game weeks.
This is also a pretty tough week in terms of having solid opponents. All four teams have net ratings and win-loss records better than Memphis this season. Memphis is also still going to be injury-riddled and without Conley for this week at the very least.
The Timberwolves are much improved from a year ago, even if their defense isn’t. Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns are both excellent young players, but their defense hasn’t taken the next step like the Timberwolves hoped would happen. The addition of Jimmy Butler has been hugely helpful though; he’s been playing great defense and finally gives them a veteran in his prime which helps in night-to-night performances for this team.
Meanwhile, the Knicks are enjoying an addition by subtraction without Carmelo Anthony. Kristaps Porzingis has been unleashed now that he is the featured player, but it’s unknown if he’ll even be available against Memphis after his ankle sprain.
The Raptors/Thunder back-to-back might be harder than the Spurs/Cavs back-to-back we just endured. The Cavs’ defense is Swiss cheese, and should have given the Grizzlies a chance to build their confidence offensively. The Raptors and Thunder will provide no such opportunities. The Raptors are one of the best teams in the league and they’ve gone under-the-radar because they didn’t make a splashy move this offseason. Their postseason struggles are another story, but they’re pretty consistently a great regular season team. The Thunder’s record might indicate a below-average team, but their net rating is that of a playoff team.
Congrats, Memphis. You survived what might be the worst week to 2-week stretch in Memphis Grizzlies history. It can only get better.
Have a good week, Memphis.