Grizzlies: Dissecting first-rounder Ziaire Williams’ debut performance

Ziaire Williams, Memphis Grizzlies (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)
Ziaire Williams, Memphis Grizzlies (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /
Memphis Grizzlies
Ziaire Williams, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The Memphis Grizzlies didn’t play a very deep rotation in their opening night contest on Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It paid off, as they got the win. They did play ten players, which is pretty normal, but we’ve become accustomed to seeing 12-to-13 man rotations from Taylor Jenkins’ Grizzly teams.

Among last night’s rotation, we saw everybody you’d expect. A high dose of Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., while guys like Kyle Anderson, and surprisingly, John Konchar held down the bench unit.

Near the end of the rotation, a new face saw the court for the first time in a Grizzlies uniform. Actually, technically it was his sixth time wearing a Grizzlies uniform — more if you count a Summer League kit. My point stands though in that the Grizzlies’ first-round pick in Ziaire Williams played his first minutes for Memphis.

Memphis Grizzlies first-rounder Ziaire Williams played a quiet 17 minutes

If you didn’t watch the game and just checked the stat sheet afterwards, you’d be surprised to learn that he played as much as 17 minutes. The rookie only took two shots and was relatively inactive elsewhere. Heck, if you watched the game, he didn’t show up overly frequently.

That said, he still played a solid game.

As mentioned, Williams was on the floor for 17 minutes. Even though he didn’t instigate the run himself, the rookie wing finished the game with a +13, benefitting from a barrage of three-pointers by De’Anthony Melton in the second quarter.

Still, Williams did something that won’t be put on the stat sheet — he played a motivated game of basketball. This was on full display when Tyus Jones dished a pass to Williams in the corner, who would knock down a perfect-looking three-pointer.

He wouldn’t finish there, either. Williams would run back on defense and make a big play, jumping a pass by Ricky Rubio and recording a steal before being fouled by Jarrett Allen. This capped off a Grizzlies run that had FedEx Forum booming.

The Cavaliers would cut into a 10-0 run by the Grizzlies with a score by Allen, but Williams wasn’t done with the momentum. The Grizzly rookie would dish a pass to Tyus Jones for a layup on the next play, recording his first career assist.

Williams’ modest performance showed a lot of promise, with only one big mistake

Williams did have a first-half turnover on the night, showing that he’s still an extremely young player in this league. That said, the new Grizzly didn’t look out of place at all in any other facet of the game.

The fact that he was able to capitalize on a huge run of momentum against the Cavs proves that he knows what it takes to be part of a successful Grizzlies team.

Must Watch. Ja Morant makes an early case for dunk of the year. light

Without a very large sample size, we can’t draw too many conclusions about the Grizzly rookie. That said, there is nothing but positive takeaways after last night’s game.