Three wins in three games is nothing to complain about for the Memphis Grizzlies after a bad start and the ability of Mario Chalmers, recently arriving via trade from the Miami Heat, in those wins is especially encouraging.
Chalmers is a bench player for the Grizzlies as he was for the Heat, where it seems he was going backwards. The departure of LeBron James should have put more responsibility in the hands of Chalmers but it turned out to be the opposite, slowly pushed out of the lineup and then not getting too many minutes off the bench. The Grizzlies, looking for some help off the bench, pounced at the opportunity to inject some life into their season.
Chalmers and the Grizzlies were at their best in a 122-114 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, who did get a fine performance from Russell Westbrook (40 points, 14 assists). He usually follows awful ones with truly impressive ones statistically, but it didn’t matter. The Thunder’s defense was bad and worse, and Chalmers was the one who made the most of it.
Chalmers scored 29 points in the win on 6-of-13 from the field while getting to the line with ease, finishing with 13-of-15. In three games with the Grizzlies he is averaging 18.7 points in only 20.3 minutes per game while shooting 52.2% from the field. The most impressive stat is that he’s taken just 23 shots from the field in the three wins.
Is this a championship move for the Grizzlies? At least one that puts them in a better position to contend? We still haven’t seen them beat a so-called contender this season at full strength, getting blown out by the Warriors (twice) and the Cavaliers, plus a loss to the Clippers. They should be better, but who knows if it’s enough to move them from where they usually end up, which is short of making the NBA Finals.