Injuries hit the Memphis Grizzlies hard, to the point where many assumed the squad would just reel it in and lose out in an effort to receive a higher selection during the 2016 NBA Draft, a pick that is owed to the Denver Nuggets unless it is in the top five or placed anywhere from 15-30. Marc Gasol went down, Mario Chalmers goes down, Mike Conley to miss around a month. Memphis, however, is 9-5 since Gasol was lost for the season.
Matt Barnes is the first of four former Clippers that are providing a big boost for the Grizzlies during this stretch. Barnes was acquired from the Charlotte Hornets during a salary dump this past summer, after Doc Rivers traded Barnes, with Spencer Hawes, to Charlotte in exchange for Lance Stephenson. More on him later. During the 14 game stretch, Barnes overall numbers are pedestrian, 10.5 points on 33.8% shooting in well over 30 minutes an outing, while getting just under a steal and a block a game.
Individually, however, Barnes has had some spectacular games, including a 26 point, 11 rebound, 10 assist triple double against the injured New Orleans Pelicans, without a turnover, and a 25 point, 7 rebound, 8 assist outing against the tanking Los Angeles Lakers, both of which were victories for Memphis. On four other occasions, Barnes scored over 16 points, however, Memphis went 1-3 in that stretch.
Stephenson was acquired mere seconds before the trade deadline expired in February, along with a 2019 conditional first round pick in exchange for Jeff Green, who just never fit with the Grizzlies plans. Stephenson has been averaging a career high in points with 14.2 per outing, while hitting 51.9% of his shots in 25 minutes during the last 12. Only on three occasions did Stephenson fail to reach double figures, and had a 33 point outburst against the Pelicans.
Rivers was not able to integrate Lance into his gameplan, and Green has been a better fit, but the addition of the first round pick, teamed with Stephenson's amazing play with Memphis has made Doc look like an idiot. Hindsight is 20/20, however, and with the Clippers poised to face Memphis in the first round, it will be interesting to see how Lance reacts to his former teammates.
Ryan Hollins, a Bruin alumn like Barnes, has been introduced into the starting line-up and has played 21 overall games for Memphis, averaging 3/2 in 12 minutes. Alex Stepheson, who spent 20 days with the Clippers on two 10-day contracts, made his debut for Memphis, and chipped in with 4 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 19 minutes.