By: Christian Dudley (@ChristianDudley)
Another year is almost complete and the Memphis Grizzlies have entered into a new era. There are plenty of things for Grizz fans to be thankful and Blu3 World Order has a top-10 list!
Happy Thanksgiving, Grizz Nation!
Our Memphis Grizzlies have built a 41.2 win percentage at 7-10 on the season. The Grizzly train has become derailed, but it is early enough in the season to not panic. While battling a few injuries, it is not hard to tell that this is a very talented Memphis Grizzlies roster in a new era of the club's history.
Through the ups and downs a season may bring, there is plenty for Grizzlies fans to be thankful in 2017.
In no particular order, here is the annual Blu3 World Order top-10 things to be thankful for if you are a fan of the Memphis Grizzlies.
1. Grizzlies NOT cutting Jarell Martin
Rumors were swirling at NBA Media Day that Jarell Martin was going to be one the Grizzlies' final roster cuts. However, his inspired performances in preseason action kept his name on the roster. He has played very important minutes this season for Memphis, especially with JaMychal Green suffering an ankle injury in the Grizzlies' season-opener. Though he has not lived up to all the hype, he is one of the better options the Grizzlies have had to pick through within the frontcourt depth chart.
2. Tyreke Evans signing with Memphis in Free-Agency
The return of the former Memphis Tiger to the 901 is already a great story in itself. Not only is "Reke Havoc" the NBA's highest-scoring reserve at 17.9 points per game, but he is arguably the Memphis Grizzlies' best and most consistent player of the early season. Tyreke Evans has topped the 20-point or more mark seven times through 17 games and looks as good as he did when he won Rookie of the Year in the 2009-10 season. This was the best value deal the league saw any free-agent sign this past offseason. Where would the Grizz be without Tyreke?
3. Early emergence of Dillon Brooks
Memphis struck gold when they selected Dillon Brooks off the Draft board this past summer with the 45th overall pick (via the Houston Rockets). Brooks was more than ready for a spot in the Grizzlies' rotation. He has started in nine of 17 games played. Coach Fizdale has allotted him 29.5 minutes per game. To put this into perspective, that is more minutes than Mike Conley (26.1 MPG) received in his rookie year in 2007-08. Brooks is a stat-stuffing beast who will only get better as an NBA wing. DB is a major diamond in the rough in which the Grizzlies have pulled.
4. "Rebirth" of Chandler Parsons
Chandler Parsons has achieved a good bill of health for the new season -- his second with the Grizz. 2017-18 will be the real baseline test for Parsons and his large contract. Thankfully, Chandler is finding his shot and continues to build steam as the weeks go by. He is now playing in closing minutes of fourth quarters and stepping up in clutch moments (Wednesday's matchup versus the Dallas Mavericks). A lot of Grizzlies fans should be relieved this contract will not be a complete waste. Parsons is demonstrating continual strides of improvement which points to him eventually fulfilling his role as the third member of the Grizzlies' "Big Three."
5. Creation of the Memphis Hustle (G-League)
Now having their own farm team, this is a major blessing or the Memphis Grizzlies. A real focus can be placed on actually developing Draft selections and other youngsters. Had this happened sooner, imagine what may have come of Jamaal Franklin, Tony Wroten, Josh Selby, Hasheem Thabeet, and more. This direct link may be the saving grace for Deyonta Davis, perhaps Jarell Martin, and other periodic G-League assignees.
6. Mario Chalmers' return to action
When suffering an Achilles injury on March 9, 2016, it was unsure when or if Mario Chalmers would return to the court. And if he did, there was doubt it would be with the Grizzlies. Prior to rejoining the Grizzlies, Rio had tried out with various teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thankfully those teams passed on him because it supplies a solid backup point guard as well as veteran championship experience within the locker room. He has not lost much of a step post-recovery and adds to the Grizzlies' bench depth. While Mike Conley is resting an injury, he is an adequate replacement in the starting lineup.
7. Grizz Nation's leap of faith of moving on from the Zach Randolph/Tony Allen days
When Zach Randolph and Tony Allen parted ways with the Grizzlies via Free-Agency, a new era began. Even more than a new era was a feeling of the unknown. Would Memphis be a playoff contender? Would they be bound for the lottery? Is this really the end of "Grind and Grind?" These were all valid questions. However, the first few weeks of this season showed the Grizzlies will be just fine. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley can now demonstrate their full abilities on the court. They can be leaders. Newcomers, such as Tyreke Evans and eventually Ben McLemore, can flourish in a new system and revitalize their respective careers. Young guns on the roster now play a more important part in the Grizzlies' success (Deyonta Davis scoring 14 points in the first half of Wednesday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks). Grizz fans should be very thankful for the beginning stage of the new era.
8. Marc Gasol taking on the leadership role
Seemingly playing in Zach Randolph's shadow, as the team leader of the "Grit and Grind" days has almost always been Z-Bo, Marc Gasol has taken on a greater load of responsibility in 2017-18. Not only does Big Spain carry more weight in the paint and on the boards, but he now owns a larger chunk of the leadership. He shares it solely with Mike Conley, but with Conley sidelined, Marc is the main man. It is encouraging to see Gasol call out his team in recent games for their lackluster performances. Even without Conley, this squad should not lose to a three-win Mavs club. They should not be losing six consecutive games. Marc is taking a step in the right direction to rally his troops and step up the team's play on the court. The verdict is still out on how great of a vocal leader he will be in this new era of Grizzlies basketball, but he is demonstrating positive signs.
9. Grizzlies & David Fizdale deciding to rest Mike Conley in the early portion of season
As recently discussed by Blu3 World Order, Mike Conley has been playing through a lingering Achilles injury. Fizdale has begun to rest Conley for at least a few weeks in order to give the ailment proper treatment for healing. Being as it is just over one month into the season, now is the best time to rest Mac-11 if you are going to do so at some point in the schedule. Assuming Memphis qualifies for a playoff position, they must need a healthy Conley if they have any chance of advancing beyond Round One. Credit must be given to Fizdale & company for pulling the trigger on resting Conley in November rather than running his wheels off.
10. A brand new month is almost upon us!
November had not been kind to the Memphis Grizzlies. Following a 6-1 start to the 2017-18 season, the squad has fallen to a 7-10 record -- positioned at 11th in the Western Conference. Mike Conley should return in a few weeks, but it is crucial for the Grizzlies to keep their head above water in the meantime. Every game counts in the West, and one-point losses to terrible teams (Wednesday versus the Dallas Mavericks) are completely unacceptable if a trip to the postseason is the goal. It is time to be done with this month and start with a clean slate in December.
Do you agree with BWO?! Voice your opinions to us on our Facebook page and via Twitter (@Blu3WorldOrder).