NBA Daily: First Quarter Grades: Southwest Division
The quarter-season mark has been broached by the NBA as November draws to a close. Twenty games may not look like a lot, but there is a lot that could be taken away in the play of any group through this point in the season.
The season has been a sudden one so far, even more so to get its teams that reside in the Southwest division. Up and down, the Southwest hasn’t performed how anyone expected it to.
So, how have these teams?
Memphis Grizzlies — B+
Grit and Grind hasn’t made a comeback, but this year was started by the Memphis Grizzlies like it had been 2013.
While they have come back down by a surprising start, the 12-8 Grizzlies sit on top of the division and look much improved by the 22-60 group they ran out onto the court last season. Mike Conley, who has averaged 20.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 20 games, has rebounded after he missed most of last year due to injury, and his return has galvanized his seasoned partner in crime, Marc Gasol.
Gasol has boosted his numbers following an abysmal 2017; the Spaniard is one of five players this year to average at least 18 points, nine rebounds, one steal and one block per game. Meanwhile, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson and Shelvin Mack have proved additions.
Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. has also played at a high degree; the former Michigan State Spartan has averaged 12.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, one steal and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 34.9 percent on 2.2 three-point attempts per game.
The Grizzlies were not expected by many to lead the division at the quarter mark, or maybe any markers, this year. But, with Houston Rockets underperforming and all the New Orleans Pelicans to a level, this is where they have found themselves. They might not hold onto that branch all season, but they are able to think about a success thus far.