Grizzlies: Why does Taylor Jenkins keep using strange lineups?

Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Memphis Grizzlies are having an up-and-down season. Actually, that sentence doesn’t even begin to describe it — Memphis has looked like the best team in the league and the worst team in the league in back-to-back games multiple times this season.

Take the Grizzlies’ early-season win over the Golden State Warriors as an example. As things stand, the Warriors have not lost another game this year, sitting at 9-1 without their second option in Klay Thompson. They’ve looked unbeatable and the Grizzlies beat them in overtime, handing the Warriors their only loss on the year.

Just a few games later, we see a full-health Grizzlies team allow the Hornets to snap their five-game losing streak in an away game at FedEx Forum. Memphis looked disjointed and played their worst basketball of the year.

Are HC Taylor Jenkins’ strange lineups dragging the Memphis Grizzlies down this season?

And at the root of this, you’ll find a clear and distinct issue in regards to the Grizzlies’ rotations.

It’s early in the season — seeing new and unique rotations in early games should not come as a surprise to anybody. To take it a step further, Taylor Jenkins is known for trying strange rotations and strange times. But has he been crossing a line lately?

It would be dishonest to say that Jenkins is a bad coach, but the odd rotations that he has thrown into the game during close matchups have clearly cost this Grizz team in the win-loss column.

Take Wednesday night’s loss against the Charlotte Hornets as an example. While trailing in the second half and struggling to score the basketball, Jenkins decided to keep his hot players on the bench and go with the following lineup.

  • Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, De’Anthony Melton, John Konchar, Steven Adams

Every single player listed above was having a rough night — Bane and Melton combined for 1-14 from long-range, while Tyus Jones didn’t record an assist on a three-turnover night. John Konchar was actually producing on the defensive end, recording three steals and a block, but offensively, he was doing cardio. Adams scored just nine points in 28 minutes.

In total, the players in that rotation, which was on the floor for far too long, scored just 23 points combined throughout the entirety of the game and accumulated nine turnovers.

This is where the question comes about — why are you sending out a rotation of players who are all individually having off-nights when your team is already struggling to score?

The argument could certainly be made that early-season blunders like this are a learning point for Jenkins, but it seemed painfully obvious that this rotation would not work. We’ve seen Jenkins do it through all three seasons that he’s been on Beale Street and there’s little to no evidence that these strange rotations actually do much good.

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Let’s hope he finds a more consistent group of guys to play in important stretches as the season progresses.