The Memphis Grizzlies 2021-2022 season was a standout year for one of the youngest teams in the entire NBA!
photo c/o bball-evolution
Collectively one of the youngest teams in the entire NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies 2021-
2022 season was seriously one for the ages. Led by their first-time All-Star Point Guard
Ja Morant, the team achieved their highest playoff seed in franchise history (#2 in the
Western Conference), received their first playoff series win with this group of players
(Grizzlies vs. Minnesota Timberwolves 4-2), and racked up plenty of regular season
awards. A few of the awards were: Most Improved Player (Ja Morant), 1st Team All
NBA (Ja Morant), All-Star Starter (Ja Morant), 1st Team All-Defense (Jaren Jackson Jr),
Executive of The Year (Zach Klieman), and Second Place in The Coach of The Year voting(Taylor Jenkins).
With all of that momentum going into this season, I must ask this question: Are the
Memphis Grizzlies poised for another breakout season? Before we answer that, we
should look at what they did during the off-season to improve or hurt their team.
(Trade) Danny Green & the 23rd pick(David Roddy) for De’Anthony Melton (Philadelphia)
(Departure) Kyle Anderson (Minnesota)
Tyus Jones (Resigned)
photo c/o Memphis Grizzlies
photo c/o Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
With two key departures from the team, Kyle Anderson (Minnesota) and De’Anthony
Melton (Philadelphia), some said that the Grizzlies have pretty big shoes to fill
those vacancies. Anderson and Melton were the 8th and 9th men on the team’s
depth chart. I believe their departure will hurt the team’s defense more so than
the offense. It is important to note that all other players on the team’s roster are
returning this season. This a good indication that Grizzlies management is banking on
internal development to fill in the gaps for Anderson and Melton. By focusing on the
evolution and success of the young stars and also the role players. Honestly, this
could be a gamble for the team, considering that the Western Conference has
gotten much better and the loss of 1st Team All-Defense player Jaren Jackson Jr with a
foot fracture to start the season. Additional concerns are the return of familiar powers in
the Western Conference like the Clippers with a healthy Paul George and Kawhi
Leonard, the Nuggets with a healthy Jamaal Murray and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, and the 2022 NBA Champs Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies didn’t make the big free agent splash after their breakout season or any major moves, which is a cause for concern for many fans. However, I believe that the Grizzlies can still have a great season despite all of the preceding details.
photo c/o Justin Ford/Getty Images
Here is why in my opinion: They have an absolute superstar in Ja Morant who hasn’t entered his prime yet and is only 23 years old. Having watched him for years, I don’t believe he has lost his hunger to be great because of his recent success. After losing in the playoffs to the Golden State Warriors, perhaps because of a knee injury he sustained. I think Morant will be champing at the bit to get back to the playoffs this season and go even further. Additionally, Desmond Bane had a 10-point increase in his scoring average from year 1 to year 2 of his first two seasons. It’s hard to believe he’ll drop his scoring average much this season. Another reason could be the growth of 2nd-year player Zaire Williams. He started slowly in his rookie campaign but became a precious player by the season’s end. Also, we have Dillon Brooks who is in a contract year and was injured most of the season last year. He is a good on-ball defender and a streaky scorer. I’d bet a lot of money we’ll see the best version of Dillon Brooks this season. Also, the recent extension of starting center Steven Adams will keep Ja Morant’s main top of the key screener to create space available. Lastly, the Grizzlies have what only a few teams in the NBA starting this season have, team continuity. As I mentioned earlier, they only lost two players from their team this off-season. Although they were important players, they weren’t starters. Continuity goes far in the NBA, I wouldn’t say it’s as important as talent however it’s close. So I believe the Memphis Grizzlies may not have as much of a breakout season as last season, but they will continue to be a good team.