Postgame player grades: Memphis Grizzlies 83, Atlanta Hawks 104

Oct 6, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Wayne Selden Jr. (7) dribbles the ball as Atlanta Hawks forward Taurean Prince (12) defends during the second half at FedExForum. Atlanta won 104-83. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 6, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Wayne Selden Jr. (7) dribbles the ball as Atlanta Hawks forward Taurean Prince (12) defends during the second half at FedExForum. Atlanta won 104-83. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports /

Davis Howe was in the FedEx Forum Thursday night for the Memphis Grizzlies’ second preseason game. The final score wasn’t pretty, but there was a lot to take away.

I told my friend before we sat down for the game that we would probably have a lot of fun in the first half before suffering through the second. I wish I hadn’t been quite so right. After a well-contested first half in which we got to see another monster slam jam from D.J. Stephens and watched Marc Gasol and Dwight Howard absolutely bully each other in the paint, the Memphis Grizzlies’ offense fell apart in the second half, scoring only 34 points as they limped to the finish line.

211. Final. 104. 125. 83

One narrative emerging from tonight’s game: with the backup point guard duo of Wade Baldin IV and Andrew Harrison failing to garner attention, those vying for roster spots begged for attention. Like my last preseason analysis, I’ll do my best to rank this from best-to-worst player performances.

A+. Quickly becoming a crowd favorite is D.J. Stephens, whose connection to Memphis and ability to connect with the rim is netting the rookie some deserved attention. Monday, I was unsure of how to place him: I wanted so bad to like him, but there were too many bonehead mistakes. Tonight, Stephens showed up with force. Inserted into the starting lineup in place of Troy Daniels, who failed to impress with a 0-point outing vs the Magic, Stephens opened up the game with both a pretty 3-pointer and a signature put back dunk that punctuated an early Grizzlies comeback. He also was much more competent on the defensive end, tallying up four steals and an impressive block while only committing a single foul. Stephens also grabbed eight rebounds, more than any other Memphis player, as a shooting guard. While he fell behind in raw scoring to Troy Williams in the fourth quarter, the lack of fouls and sheer improvement just from the beginning of the week to the end gives D.J. Stephens my top pick.. SG. Memphis Grizzlies. D.J. STEPHENS

He was a late addition to training camp, but now he demands attention, and maybe a few more top 10 of the preseason plays:

A. Although I’ve shied away from analyzing veterans in the preseason because I’m confident in their ability to return to form once the real games get started, Marc Gasol’s performance tonight warrants recognition. Dwight Howard was probably Gasol’s toughest opponent since coming back from his foot injury, and Big Spain rose to the occasion. If you discount the two 3-pointers he missed (though, I’m still not quite ready to give up on the experiment), Marc Gasol shot 3-for-4 on shots within the 3-point line, and he forced his matchup Dwight Howard to only six points on 3-for-7 shooting. I mean look at how frustrated Howard was in the paint in the video below.. C. Memphis Grizzlies. MARC GASOL


The matchup was also relentlessly physical, and in that area Marc Gasol also shined, forcing Dwight Howard into committing four fouls while only committing two fouls of his own. In only his second NBA game back from injury, our boy is already making supposed star centers look silly. You can bet I’m ready for the real season to start.

SF. . TROY WILLIAMS. C. For a man who looked out of place, shooting 1-for-5 vs the Magic, Troy Williams sure looked comfortable shooting the rock tonight. While the rookie point guards Baldwin and Harrison shot 1-for-11 collectively, Williams managed a nice 6-for-9 performance, leading all Memphis Grizzlies’ scorers with 15 points. Williams was a bright spot in an offense running in place after halftime. Although the 3-pointers continue not to fall for him, Williams has proven a confident finisher. Tonight’s shooting may not earn him a roster spot, but it earns him my recognition for keeping the game from being an embarrassing blowout.

There’s good news and bad news. The good news? 0 fouls! Jamychal Green looked very capable on defense tonight, and rose up for two blocks. After fouling out in a frustrating game vs the Orlando Magic on Monday, it was nice to see Green improve in that one area. Boy, did he have a rough night on offense though. 1-for-7 shooting is never fun to watch, and having a big who’s supposed to be following in the footsteps of Zbo only grab three boards and get to the free throw line once is disappointing. After the recent announcement that Green will be starting over Randolph, perhaps Green just wilted under the pressure. If he ever finds that 3-point shot he’s been looking for (0-for-3 from downtown tonight), Green may provide a thing or two Zach Randolph doesn’t.. PF. Memphis Grizzlies. JAMYCHAL GREEN. C-

D. I almost wanted to group Baldwin and Harrison together, because they both disappointed tonight, but Wade Baldwin IV definitely was the better of the two again. Though he shot the ball extremely poorly tonight (1-for-6), Baldwin improved in some key areas. Last game vs the Orlando Magic, Baldwin racked up four assists while conceding five turnovers, and tonight he got another four assists with only one turnover. He also had one less foul and had one steal when he intercepted the ball beautifully before missing the layup to finish the play. While the shooting nights may get better or worse, we can hope Baldwin maintains his ability to take care of the ball and get a few teammates involved.. PG. Memphis Grizzlies. WADE BALDWIN IV

ANDREW HARRISON. F-. I’m not sure exactly where to begin with Harrison’s night. Let’s put it this way: Andrew Harrison was so awful tonight that Fizdale put in Tony Wroten to finish out the game. Finishing the night with the game low +/- of -25, Harrison missed every overly complicated reverse layup he threw up and only dished out one assist. For a man trying to prove he deserves a place in the Memphis Grizzlies’ rotation, he sure didn’t play like it.. PG. Memphis Grizzlies

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports /

Everyone Else: James Ennis was unremarkable, scoring only two points to go with three rebounds and two fouls. Troy Daniels continues to fail in his one job: shooting. Vince Carter looked passable until early fouls sat him too soon. Zbo shot well, 4-for-7, but only pulled down two rebounds. Brandan Wright, who served as the offensive anchor to close out vs. the Orlando Magic, contributed five points while in a completely ineffective lineup that earned him the second worst +/- with -18. I hope not to see Tony Wroten play any more minutes. Chris Crawford and Wayne Selden, both of whom are on the chopping block, failed to impress.

With one more home game before shipping out for three away games until the season starts, here’s hoping we get another nail-biter on Tuesday vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. Maybe we can hope for less missed layups (looking at you, No. 5).