Advanced Scouting: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs


Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs 7:30 CST December 18, 2010

SRS ranks:

Memphis: -0.69 (19th)
San Antonio: 8.67 (3rd)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of (effective December 15, 2010):

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PER2 Year Net PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes

Adjusted plus-minus numbers are not available for Memphis on in the current season. Among the leaders, you can find Marc Gasol at 6.23, Rudy Gay at 4.66 and DeMarre Carroll at 4.68. OJ Mayo is among the trailers at -8.30.

Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Conley,Mayo,Gay,Randolph,Gasol +20 in 221 minutes
Conley,Henry,Gay,Randolph,Gasol +4 in 186 minutes
Conley,Mayo,Gay,Arthur,Gasol +23 in 100 minutes

Last season Memphis relied heavily on transition, isolation and post plays. This season, the reliance on the fast break and isolation plays has reduced (thanks in part to a diminished role from OJ Mayo), leaving the post game as their top option. Memphis has two very solid options down low with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Although neither is having the statistical success that they had last year, both are very crucial to the Grizzlies success.

Zach Randolph is the top option on the post for Memphis. According to Synergy Sports, his points per possession (PPP) are down from 1.03 (76th percentile) to 0.88 PPP (46th percentile). His value on the blocks is increased by his ability to pull down over 4 offensive rebounds per game. (He is grabbing a higher rate of offensive rebounds than last year when he led the league in total o-boards.) Marc Gasol has averaged 0.99 and 0.85 PPP in post possessions last year and this current season.

Rudy Gay has also proven to be a productive scorer in isolation sets. Last season he scored 0.84 PPP (42nd percentile) and this season he is averaging 0.9 PPP (57th percentile).

When Memphis does run the pick and roll, it is almost always through Mike Conley Jr. Conley is an effective option in the pick and roll game, ranking in the 66th percentile at 0.95 points per possession. Last season he ranked in the 41st percentile at 0.89 PPP.

Appropriate Spurs counter: Lots of bodies defending the post help, box out

With two bigs capable of scoring on the post, the Spurs are going to need a lot of big bodies. In the past, Duncan had defended Gasol while McDyess, Bonner and Blair took turns matching up against Randolph. I definitely think the Spurs could use some of Splitter tossed in there as well. Blair and McDyess are good defensive rebounders, which could be useful for trying to limit Randolph’s second opportunities.

Additionally, Duncan should keep in mind that Marc Gasol has had considerably more success turning his right shoulder (1.09 PPP since last year) than his left (0.90 PPP). One more thing to consider is that OJ Mayo makes the Grizzlies a much faster paced team with far more transition opportunities. It might be tougher to play big lineups against a lineup involving Mayo.

This season, Rudy Gay has altered his shot selection to include more outside shots. Gay’s attempted jumpers on 81% of his field goal attempts, up from 68% last season. He has also seen an increase in his shooting effectiveness from that range. Gay’s three point percentage has increased over 8% from last season. Although his shooting numbers are up across the board, I would suspect that his outside shooting efficiency will become closer to his historical numbers. Although Gay is too good a shooter to be left open, the Spurs will likely benefit from encouraging him to continue with his new shot selection. (The Spurs primary defensive option defending Rudy Gay last season was Richard Jefferson.)

In addition to encouraging the outside shot, the Spurs should also take advantage of Gay’s inability to hurt teams through passing the ball. Although he is averaging a career high 2.3 assists per game, Gay only has 17 close assists on the season (close assists are far more important in terms of passer’s value). He has nearly twice as many passing turnovers, 32, as close assists this season.

Defensive Weakness: Look to score on the break and run the ISO against Mayo

The Memphis Grizzlies have allowed the 5th most transition points in the NBA. This is despite the fact that they rank on 14th in the NBA in pace. In addition to them allowing fast break opportunities, they also rank 24th in PPP in transition plays and they ranked 29th last season. Parker is able to look for quick strikes and take the ball to the rim on fast breaks. Jefferson is the Spurs best finisher on the break and Ginobili is the best at setting up his teammates in the transition.

Last season, when OJ Mayo was on the court, his team allowed over 3 points per 100 possessions more than when he was on the bench. This season they allow more than 7 additional points. It is definitely unlikely that Mayo is 7 points per game below average as a defender, but he is very likely weak defensively. In the specific case of isolation plays, Mayo has allowed 0.95 PPP in 43 possessions this season (34th percentile), 1 PPP in 141 possessions last year (26%) and 0.99 PPP in 133 possessions in his rookies season (18%). The Spurs could profit from finding ways to score against Mayo in isolations or other offensive sets.


As thrilling as the last couple games have been, if the Spurs keep getting in these close contests, they are bound to lose some of them (nearly half of them in the long run). Memphis isn’t a bad team, but they are a team that the Spurs should be able to handle.

  • Greyberger

    Word is that Rudy Gay might be suspended for a flagrant type two last night. I hate to put the jinx on, but if that’s the case the Grizz have a steep hill tonight.

    The Spurs already have homecourt advantage, rest advantage (1 day of rest vs. back to back) and are the much better team. DSMok1’s ASPM predictions give the Grizzlies a 7.2% chance of winning under these circumstances; take out Gay’s minutes and it drops to 5.4%.

    To put it kindly Pop would be very angry if we didn’t put this one in the bank.

  • justin-ray

    you cant overlook any team. This team is highly talented. Look at what happened to us last year. Lets get it spurs!!!!

  • zainn

    I’m sure blair and splitter will have increased minutes tonight after the somewhat hig minutes timmy played and hill will have a better game than his poor shooting in denver. It seems as if georgie does muchh better at home over away games. He’s gotta be more consistent in awaygames especially during the playoffs if we’re gonna make a run…

  • Matt in OC

    Call me the pessimist, but I have a weird feeling about this game.

    Maybe it’s the fact of 2 “down to the final second” games in a row. I hope the spurs don’t get complacent and think Manu can always bail them out… Hopefully we can win this one early and get some nice min from splitter.

    Besides, we don’t want to use all our last second juju before the playoffs do we?!?!

  • duaneofly

    Great analysis, thanks. The thing that worries me is Gasol and Randolph. We didn’t fair too well versus the T-Wolves combo of Darko and Love, so I’d expect the Grizzles to try and pound the ball inside early on.

  • Czernobog

    I’d try to get as many minutes out of Splitter as possible. He should feel pretty comfortable Matched up with the younger Gasol, after all. He’s probably done it more times than anyone else in the league, even if it has been a couple of years.

  • Easy b

    Re: magic trades… the suns just got scary again- they pretty much swap like for like in Carter -j rich, but scored gortat for hedo, which in the scheme of things can dramatically improve their performance as a team. It will likely improve the magic aswell as j rich is a better spot up 3 ball shooter, and hedo seemed to gel at the magic. Question is how high of a level will arenas play and how will he fit in with the team? Their potential is high, but how are the point guard duties going to be shared, and will the loss of pietrus hurt their defense. At first glance, I think the suns really scored

  • TD = Best Ever

    I agree pretty much with all I have read so far – The Spurs need to Run them out of the GYM………… No more close calls. I think the Best formula for success is to get Timmy going early – Just in case those shots aren’t falling late, We still have a high percentage scoring option to go to. Also I agree that I want to see more of DICE and SPLITTER tonight. Memphis has 3 good bigs who all rebound well – so we have to box out and limit them to 1 shot attempt.

    If Gay is out then that’s a blow to them and we need to take advantage of it………

    Lets build a big lead and let the Starters and DICE sit the 4th Quarter out.

  • Quick Outlet

    Just noticed this on today’s ESPN weekend dime:
    “Manu had never before won an NBA game with a shot at the horn and was 6-for-33 lifetime on shots in the final 24 seconds of a one-possession game prior to Wednesday.”

    Just based on observation and my gut, there’s no one I would rather have with the ball in their hands in that situation. Is there a different metric that better illustrates Ginobili’s effectiveness in the clutch?

  • Matt in OC

    I agree with TD.

    When Duncan is going, he can’t miss. Like that flip up shot off the glass against denver. Reminder me of the .4 tragedy… (didn’t mean to open old wounds…)

    I think Hill is going to have a good game. We should get some quality minutes from the bench late, which will serve us well when it comes time to run the next 5-6 game gauntlet.

    I feel like Manu is always on the floor, which makes me nervous. I certainly don’t want him wearing down before the games really count, but Anderson getting healthy should help. As long as he hits the ground running.

  • mikrobass3

    according to ” Grizzlies star Rudy Gay has been suspended one game without pay after a flagrant foul in the fourth quarter of a game against Houston. …NBA vice president Stu Jackson announced the suspension Saturday, and Gay was due to sit out the Grizzlies’ game against the San Antonio Spurs.”

    btw, the stat sheets show splitter appearing in 20 of 25 games, averaging over 11 minutes per game. i had no idea he played that much this season. does that sound right?

  • Jacob

    22-3 bitches!!!

    Go Spurs go!!!

  • dave m

    Good to see you guys pull out the OT tonight, team’s playing seriously well this year. I’m an unabashed Lakers fan but have always had a ton-load of respect for the Spurs. The game on the 28th’s going to be a war.

  • Jacob


    My previous post seems even more retarded after having added the word ‘bitches’ to the wrong record, haha.

    Way to go Spurs!

  • DorieStreet

    All Spurs Fans & Followers: despite the slight/oversight/lack of respect/disregard/the NBA -sports media have for our team, the entities that matter- THE OTHER 29 TEAMS IN THE LEAGUE – know what we are about. Whether @ the AT&T Center or in their own arena, they know a win vs. San Antonio is a Quality Accomplishment. Expect close games -last second victories (and hopefully few losses) in all but about 10 of the remaining 56 games.

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