The Memphis Grizzlies have put together a good roster with some solid talent thanks to high draft picks. Ja Morant took the league by storm last season and looks to press on. Jaren Jackson Jr. ended up being incredibly efficient on offense and has begun to put it all together. The roster assembled around those two has some exciting pieces and makes some believe they could get back to the playoffs this season.
There isn’t much to talk about in terms of off-season moves. The Grizzles traded for Mario Hezonja and landed a couple of intriguing rookies. TCU product Desmond Bane fell to Memphis with the last pick in the first round and it looks like a great pick. Bane is a great three point shooter who has shown he is a smart ball handler and a good defender. He’s incredibly well sculpted and has a game that could help him stay in the NBA for a long time. Xavier Tillman was selected five picks later and could be someone who contributes right away. The Michigan State product plays a professional game that may not wow people, but he gets the job done. Both of those pieces were two of the older players available in the draft; that makes me believe Memphis is looking to round out their roster more than anything else.
This team goes into the upcoming season essentially looking the same as last season. Looking at how their season ended last year, some people will feel good about that. There’s reason to believe the young talent on the roster will continue to improve and be the factor that catapults this team into the postseason. I don’t think it is that simple.
Memphis will be without Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justice Winslow to begin the year, which will hurt their performance undoubtedly. The team will need to get some unexpected performances if they hope to keep up. Either role players will have to play great in their increased roles or Ja will have to be an MVP. Morant has looked great in the preseason, but I think it will be hard for him to shoulder so much of the offensive burden.
The other thing that worries me about this team is how much better other teams in the conference got. Memphis stayed relatively stagnant and I think there’s a team or two that passed them up. The Suns certainly put all their chips in the center of the table and I think the Pelicans are going for it all as well. Realistically, there is only one team in the Western Conference that doesn’t have some hope of making it to the playoffs. The conference is going to be a blood bath and I have a hard time seeing Memphis withstanding it.
Even if the Grizzlies don’t make the playoffs this season, they can feel good about themselves. As long as Ja continues to get better and JJJ looks good when he returns, the team can deem it a successful season. It would be nice to make it to the playoffs though.