When: Friday, October 18th, 6:00 PM CST
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Memphis wrapped up its three game home stand on Tuesday against Milwaukee, as the preseason cripples on. But fear not, good ladies and gents; we’re officially halfway through! That’s right Grizzlies fans, we’re just 13 days away from the Grizzlies’ long-awaited redemption bout with the San Antonio Spurs to tip off the regular season. With a “Jekel and Hyde greatest hits collection” of games in the books thus far, thanks in part to a handful of nagging injuries and some wonky lineup combinations, there are four more coming down the pike beginning with tonight’s opponent, the Orlando Magic. The Milwaukee game gave us our first pseudo glimpse of Grizzlies basketball, with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol remaining in the game down to the wire, and Conley delivering the winning basket with 30 ticks to go.
Orlando had itself a rather dormant off-season for a team that’s not cooking with much in the tank. Of the players that the Magic did bring in, it’s very much evident that second overall pick Victor Oladipo will have himself a great deal of court time to show off what he can do. With the lack of assets on the Magic roster, the thinness of the backcourt will have Oladipo splitting his time between the two spot, as well as at the one, where he did not see burn at Indiana. It’s going to be that kind of year in Orlando, where Coach Jacque Vaughn will be conducting experiments of all sorts, as the objective of winning basketball games takes the backseat to the allure of ping pong ball combinations for a tantalizing draft class. The only thing standing in their way will be hyper-accelerated development of combo forward Tobias Harris and emerging center Nikola Vucevic.
Be sure to keep tabs on:
– Quincy Pondexter. After missing the first two games, Q has made quite some noise in his preseason arrival. His first game passed the eye test, as he exhibited an increased degree of comfort with the ball in his hands and even some playmaking ability, illustrated by his 4 assists. Against Milwaukee, he put on an absolute clinic, attacking defenders off the dribble, . Notoriously one of the more rigid offensive players on the team, Quincy seems like a new man, making smooth, decisive moves with the ball in his hands. If there had to be an early candidate for most improved Grizzly this season, I would have to imagine him the front-runner. In part by default, but impressive nonetheless. If you need something to look at, this should do.
– The “Jekel and Hyde greatest hits collection” of lineups combinations. I’ll shield my eyes each and every time that the trio of Conley, Jerryd Bayless, and Nick Calathes shares the court, but hey it’s preseason… so have fun with it.
– Ed Davis. Until Ed is able to carve out his own identity in Memphis by reliably finishing at the rim and Windex-ing the glass, his name will face persistent involuntary association as the guy from the Rudy Gay trade. If not that, the “eventual” heir to Zbo’s throne. Through the duration of this period of self-anonymity, he will need to not just show flashes of his ability, but get it done on a regular basis. Part of Ed’s scouting report is an over reliance on his plus athleticism, which rings true in droves, but it’s not like he doesn’t know how to position himself when the ball is up in the air. Half the time his positioning is fantastic, while other times it just seems like he forgets. When he puts it all together he’s a fun player to watch.
More on Orlando:
Assessing the Enemy