Into the Bears’ Den: What we’re thankful for this NBA season

Nov 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) is fouled by Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) during the fourth quarter of the game at the Wells Fargo Center. The Grizzlies won 104-99 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

For this week’s “Into the Bears’ Den” roundtable, our writers shared what they’re most thankful for early on in the Memphis Grizzlies’ and NBA’s season.

This week, Parker Fleming, Ryan Snellings, Jakob Eliason and Mike Parrott contributed to the roundtable. Be sure to hit them with follows on Twitter for all the freshest NBA and Memphis Grizzlies hot takes!

Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA)

Grizz: Marc Gasol 3-point celebrations. Big Spain shooting 3-pointers now is a revelation for all Grizzlies fans. What’s even better is his celebrations. Over the years, Gasol has given us gif-worthy celebrations like his slap on the backside and shimmies.

Now, he’s hitting clutch 3s and celebrating in glorious fashions. Here’s to many more Big Spain 3-pointers and Vine-worthy celebrations.

NBA: Rising stars. The NBA has seen many great players retire the past year. Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have all bid their farewells. In addition, we know that, inevitably, Dirk, Paul Pierce and Vince Carter are next. Luckily for the NBA, the amount of young talent is through the roof. We have wings that have the potential to be dynamite scorers in Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Brandon Ingram and Devin Booker. Explosive young point guards like D’Angelo Russell (and an incoming draft class loaded with elite point guards) are rising through the ranks. There’s a 6’10” point forward arriving soon in Ben Simmons, the most hyped prospect since King James. Finally, the center position is making a comeback. Kristaps Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid are taking the NBA by storm. They are revolutionizing the position as the game is evolving, splashing 3s and putting opposing bigs on skates at one end and anchoring a defense on the other. Basketball fans, the future is in good hands.

Ryan Snellings (@rsnellings25)

Grizz: Grizz dancing like there’s no tomorrow. How can you not be thankful for this? With the old Benny the Bull now retired, there’s room for a new No. 1 mascot in the league and after a performance like this, I think Grizz can lock that up. Besides, who could be better? Certainly not creepy mascots like Pierre the Pelican or odd ones like Chuck the Condor. Grizz is the G.O.A.T and we should all be appreciative that we have him. 

NBA: JaVale McGee is getting actual playing time. As someone who grew up watching him on the Wizards, I’m glad to see him finally getting to contribute to an actual good NBA team. As a fan of hilarity, I’m glad he’s getting minutes so that he can provide us with a whole season’s worth of Shaqtin’ A Fool. With JaVale around there’s never a dull moment. Here we are, almost 6 weeks into the season and he’s already blessed us with gems like this. 

Him acting so foolish almost makes it bearable (Grizzly-able?) and possible to watch the Warriors play without getting extremely angry. Thank you JaVale, for everything.

Jakob Eliason (@jakobeliason)

Grizz:  Wins without Chandler Parsons.  This year, I’m thankful for a Grizzlies team that can win without relying on a rusty Chandler Parsons.  Considering a $94 million max contract, it’s obvious that he will take on a majority of the offense as the season progresses.  However, Parsons’ is averaging only 6.8 points per game for a Grizzlies team with road wins over the Utah Jazz and the top-ranked L.A. Clippers.  As he settles in, these numbers should rise significantly – exciting for both Memphis Grizzlies fans and the future of the franchise.

NBA:  Joel Embiid. If you follow me on Twitter – which you should (@jakobeliason) – you know that I’m a big fan of social media.  You know what NBA player also loves social media? Joel Embiid.  So, outside of his uber athleticism, impressive shooting range and his height – we’re kind of similar.

In a world where athletes are constantly ridiculed for sharing their opinions about social issues and chastised for using social media platforms like an ordinary human, Joel Embiid just keeps it real.  Also, he’s notorious for sliding in the DM’s. With both basketball and internet skills, Joel Embiid is truly an icon for our generation.  

Mike Parrott (MikeParrott_)

Grizz: Threes! Threes! Threes! So maybe I wasn’t a huge fan of the past iteration of the Memphis Grizzlies; Grit ‘n’ Grind was not my style. But now, the Grizzlies actually like 3s! 2016 has been a crazy year. But with the Grizzlies now taking the 14th most 3s per game and make the 12th most, it’s astounding when compared to the past four years when they couldn’t crack the top 25 in either category.

It’s good to see the Grizzlies finally move into the modern era and start using that arc more with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley reaping the rewards with them both averaging a career-high in points, mostly down to the added 3s.

NBA: Jimmy Butler. Now last year I wasn’t a big fan of Jimmy Butler even though I am a Bulls fan. This year he has shut me up and made me a Jimmy believer. Butler is now averaging (as of Nov. 23):

25.8 PPG / 6.7 RPG / 4.1 APG on 48 FG% / 42.3 3PT% / 89 FT% splits.

Those are superstar numbers, especially when you add in that he’s second in the league in offensive rating, first in offensive win shares, second in win shares, fourth in value over replacement player rating, and fifth in box plus/minus. The guy is a superstar.

I’m also thankful about Butler due to his demeanor that should inspire every basketball follower in the world. With his undying bromance with Luol Deng, the guy is a great friend and team mate. He also gives every guy with a celebrity crush a voice. With Butler currently dating Shay Mitchell after he said in a Chicago Bulls interview that she was his celebrity crush (starts at 0:41). If Jimmy can do it why can’t all of us? On that note, Kendall Jenner, slide into my DMs sometime.

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