Taylor Jenkins loves using 10-man rotations. No matter who was available, if there were at least 10 players available, 10 players were playing.
Honestly, it’s also hard to argue with him. the grizzlies have had a great bench production this season, and it looks like they’re in a position to win no matter who steps on the floor. You also know how the saying goes: if nothing is broken, don’t fix it.
While that’s true, rotations generally shorten playoff time. The starters are going to need more minutes. Instead of playing in the 28-33 minute range, they need to be in the 35-38 zone. With that, there are fewer minutes available, and it makes little sense from a pace standpoint to give 5 players off the bench a small amount of game time. So once the postseason starts, rotations are usually reduced to 7 or 8.
What will Jenkins end up doing?
Last postseason, he left with 9 players. Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jonas Valanciunas started, while Grayson Allen, Desmond Bane, De’Anthony Melton and Tyus Jones came off the bench. Usually there were 8, but Jones was the only person who could run the offense when Morant needed a break, so he moved him into the rotation. He didn’t go for 10, because the options weren’t that intriguing. Brandon Clarke wasn’t playing well and he wasn’t healthy. Xavier Tillman was solid, but he was outplayed in Utah’s frontcourt. Then there was Justise Winslow, and you know how they did.
The dynamic is now different.
You may make a better argument for going 10-player than you did last season, as each of the top 5 players on the bench provides something at a high level. Kyle Anderson is skilled at creating two-way plays. De’Anthony Melton wreaks havoc defensively as he turns into a 3 flamethrower. Tyus Jones’ overall ground prowess is as good as ever. Brandon Clarke has recovered to return to staggering levels of efficiency and solid defensive versatility. Then Ziaire Williams has been showing a lot more since the calendar year changed, shooting 39% from 3 (3.8 attempts per game) since February.
If Jenkins chooses to go with 8 or 9 players, who is left out of the rotation?
In this situation, there are 3 bench players who have solidified spots in a playoff rotation: Tyus Jones, De’Anthony Melton and Brandon Clarke.
I could probably write a thousand-word review on each of these players and why they’re locks for the playoff rotation, and their importance in these situations. I’ll just summarize it quickly, though, so we can get into the details of this rotation discussion.
Tyus Jones has been a great caretaker of the basketball, and the 2-guard lineups with him and Morant have been excellent (+14.9 NET rating in 334 possessions, per clean the glass). That’s something they can lean on in a potential series with the minnesota timber wolveswhere Pat Beverley will try to be a thorn in Morant’s side.
De’Anthony Melton is the team’s primary event creator on both sides of the ball, and is also capable of solo runs with his microwave shot.
Brandon Clarke isn’t a shooter, but he’s the only big man on the team with swing gravity above the rim, which is a great driver. His interior presence on offense and his defensive versatility make him a staple in closing lineups.
That leaves us with Kyle Anderson and Ziaire Williams.
Anderson, like Clarke, is not a great shooter. Although he lacks vertical pop, he is smart on both ends of the floor and can fill the stat sheet in the secondary compartments.
Honestly, it should feel like a win that we’re talking about Ziaire Williams being a playoff rotation player in Year 1. He flies around the floor looking for transition opportunities, is finding his groove since 3 and has held his own in assignments. stellar defenses. . The question with him may be if the moment is too big for the rookie.
If they go with 9 players, it’s likely between those 2 guys. For Taylor Jenkins, he’s faced with the question of whether to ride with the stable veteran or give his young rookie a big opportunity for growth. He also has to prioritize Anderson’s defense and play, or Williams’ outside shot.
If the rotation shrinks in the postseason, that angle is something to watch out for. In this hypothetical 9-man rotation, I don’t have a strong preference in any way. I’d probably go with Anderson, as he’s played a key role in the team’s main ladder lineup dominating people, and he provides a good dose of two-way play that’s needed to power the transition offense.
Contrary to the norm, the Grizzlies should stick with 10 players. However, in the second half of the games, it needs to be trimmed down to 8 players. This line of thinking allows the coaching staff to gauge who’s going on any given night, rolling with those guys and getting them to keep up. If they had 8 players in the rotation, and someone didn’t, you’re throwing another player off the bench who might be a little cold.
In addition, they have had 10 consistent players who add value and impact winning throughout the season. There’s not much harm in running his usual rotation patterns in the postseason.
In terms of how the playoff rotation is structured, staggering is key. They can’t afford all-bench lineups in the postseason. At all times, they must ensure that these players are on the court.
- 1 by Yes Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.
- 1 Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks
- 1 Jackson and Steven Adams
That should bode well for lineup stability and weathering any kind of storm with their starters, particularly Morant or Jackson, off the floor.
When it comes to closing games, you can end up with varying player performance every night. If there was any kind of guess as to what it would look like, it would probably be Morant, Bane, Brooks, Clarke, and Jackson. Adams could be in the mix depending on the matchup, but we’ve seen Jenkins generally opt for more defensive versatility down the stretch of tight games. It’s hard to see him go from there. Melton could also be found here, depending on how his shot goes in the given game. Jenkins could opt for a smaller lineup with Morant, Melton, Bane, Brooks and Jackson, since he trended a bit during the last postseason.
Regardless, the memphis grizzlies they are in a good place. They have 10 players who can be relied on in crucial situations, and the same cannot be said for many teams in the league. Now, we wait and see if Taylor Jenkins and his coaching staff will stick to the playoff norm with a shorter rotation, or if he will continue to rely on the Grizzlies’ numerical strength.