Opening Statements 02: Wizards at Grizzlies — New Grind House | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements 02: Wizards at Grizzlies — New Grind House

Updated: October 30, 2016

As poor as game one was, you have to give the positives their due.

Start with Markieff Morris. After Wall and Beal, he’s who I rank as the most important Wizard. His jump shot was working, that high-arcing shot of his being on of the few jolts watchers got from the Wizards (floaters). Morris scored 22 points on 18 shots, hit two of three 3-point attempts and displayed that, after Beal, Washington might rely on him to score the most. (Yes, John Wall will still get his.) One could be even be more positive about Morris had he rebounded more (just four with at least one sorry effort when given a chance versus Dwight Howard) and had Paul Millsap not gotten the best of the matchup (28 points, 20 shots). Morris was seemingly Atlanta’s target in the pick-and-roll with Dennis Schröder and Millsap finding much more effectiveness versus Wall and Morris.

Wait—the positives?

The positives come with the ability of Scott Brooks and his Washington team to change. #FreeSato or #FreeSaty? Perhaps a tad premature but also: you drafted Satoransky, 32nd overall; you had him develop for you in the best pro basketball league not named the NBA; play him.

Play him. Even if Tomas Satoransky is not as ‘ready’ as Marcus Thornton or Trey Burke, for the reasons outlined above, and particularly since Satoransky played well in the preseason. You play him, you get him NBA experience. Because other teams (in Thornton’s case, many other teams) have invested in the development of players that might not be part of your future. Play him.

To matters at hand: in this the fifth evening of the NBA season the Wizards play their second game. The Clippers are the only other team that’s played one game thus far (they play their second game today, too). Washington will face a transformed Grizzlies team that lost in New York last night. Transformed in that Zach Randolph is coming, and scoring well, off the bench. Marcin Gortat and other fill-ins at 5 will have their hands full, as will every other Wizard after such a disappointing, semi-unprofessional start.

Joining TAI today is Josh Coleman of 3 Shades of Blue (@3SOB), Memphis Grizzlies blog. Keep reading for Josh’s insights on the team from Beale Street…

#1) What most makes you feel warm-and-fuzzy about the Grizzlies for this season?

1) A new and open offense. Many scoffed when head coach David Fizdale said he wanted Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to start taking 3s. After all, these two are the Bash Brothers—they beat people up in the paint; they don’t loiter around the 3-point line. Then we got a taste of it in preseason, which resulted in both big men hitting multiple long-range bombs. In the first regular season game against Minnesota on Wednesday night, both connected from beyond the arc again. Other Grizzlies have seen a similar increase in open looks from distance thanks to Fizdale’s offensive system.

2) Wade Baldwin IV. It surprised many when the former Vanderbilt Commodore slipped outside of the lottery on draft night. Chris Wallace and the Grizz front office were among them, but were only too happy to pluck the combo guard with pick No. 17. While he still has plenty to learn, Baldwin has mostly looked more like a fourth year pro than a rookie over the past month. He makes smart decisions and uses his great athleticism on both sides of the ball, resulting in 7 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks and only 1 turnover in his first NBA game. After years of seeing young guys get buried on the bench, it’s encouraging to see one get playing time and do something with it.

#2) What most makes your stomach queasy?

Health is the easy answer here. Last season, the Grizzlies went through an NBA record 28 players as Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and several other key players were lost to injury. Free agent signee Chandler Parsons also missed significant time and still has yet to recover from offseason surgery. Three other expected contributors (Tony Allen, Brandan Wright, Jarell Martin) were also on the injury report on opening night, as well as Troy Daniels. This team has a ton of question marks directly tied to the trainer’s office.

An additional concern linked to the health issue is the point guard depth chart. While we’ve seen plenty of Wade Baldwin as both the backup and backcourt mate to Mike Conley, that leaves Andrew Harrison as the third option. Harrison started at SG and played most of the game against the Timberwolves, but has clearly looked uncomfortable and uncertain off the ball on offense. Having two rookies as your only respite at the game’s most important position is enough to give anyone ulcers.

#3) What’s most significant component of transitioning from the Zach-Marc Grind House to a tweaked style of play? And why did David Joerger have to go?

As mentioned above, David Fizdale has already gotten his two big men to buy into taking more 3s. More importantly, one of the first things he did after taking over in Memphis was to sit down with Z-Bo and have an honest conversation with Mr. 20 & 10 about where he is in his career. That allowed him to move the former stalwart to the bench in a sixth man role that allows him to be the focal point of the reserves’ offense while maximizing his output. Witness his 19 points and 11 rebounds in only 25 minutes as evidence of this. Being able to separate the Bash Bros. and keep both of them productive and happy has already proven to be a significant achievement.

As for his predecessor, Dave Joerger is a classic example of what Larry Bird and others have said about coaches only truly being effective for about three years. The team had begun to tune him out even as his third year as head man in Memphis began, with a few ugly blowouts opening the season. Those losses resulted in questions about the direction of the team and why the players refused to implement the more uptempo offense Joerger seemed to prefer. Based on some comments from players this year, it seems they prefer Fizdale’s frank but personal approach when making significant changes to Joerger’s more autocratic method of “my way or the highway” without there being any discussion. It was time for a change, and it appears both Joerger (with an annual salary twice what he had previously been receiving) and the Grizzlies have moved on to better things.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.