Has Memphis Reached Its Peak?
For two straight seasons, the Memphis Grizzlies have finished with the second-best record in the Western Conference only o have disappointing playoff runs. It has brought up questions about the team’s NBA titles odds and how realistic this team can make a deep playoff run.
However, sportsbooks should at least consider some of the injuries and odd situations the Grizzlies have faced. First, star player Ja Morant was suspended for flashing a gun on social media, along with many other rumors surrounding his off-court activities. Furthermore, Dillon Brooks off and on-court “antics,” seems to have flipped the fan base and organization against him.
On top of that, crucial players in Memphis’ front court, Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke, missed the entire playoffs. Those circumstances made it hard to go with the Grizzlies to be in anyone’s NBA picks when the playoffs started.
All this makes NBA predictions for the Grizzlies interesting. On the one hand, the mixture of an All-Star in Morant and the 2022-23 Defensive Player of the Year, Jaren Jackson Jr., makes the Grizzlies NBA playoff odds super easy. On the other hand, winning a championship is the goal of this team, and this roster seems far away from that.
2022-23 Season Record
Status of Coach: Taylor Jenkins could have easily been the Coach of the Year for the last two seasons, making his job safe.
Positions Of Need For the Grizzlies
- Starting Small Forward
- Any Floor Spacing
- Lead Perimeter Defender
- Legit 3-and-D player
Possible Free Agency Plan
If the Grizzlies are healthy, they have a roster with few weaknesses. The biggest need is a lack of shooting, but Luke Kennard was traded for at the deadline to fix that. On top of that, Desmond Bane has been one of the best shooters in the league the last two seasons, being a vital part of the Grizzlies.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 2, 2023
Memphis is also not in a terrible cap situation. Sure 2023-24 will be Morant’s first year of his max contract, and Bane is due for an extension, but the team is not amassing a massive luxury tax bill, yet. That is why the NBA news of the Grizzlies cutting ties with Brooks is a little surprising. He just made the second-team All-Defense, proving his value on that end of the court. However, it is also understandable why the team wants to move on, with his lack of offense being a massive issue in the playoffs.
This offseason, the Grizzlies could look to upgrade the small forward position. That player must be able to space the floor while offering defensive versatility, especially if Brooks is gone. The outright best fit would be Jerami Grant. While listed as a power forward, he is better categorized as a “wing.” He can be the second or third offensive option while still being able to make an impact with catch-and-shoot 3s. Beyond that, Grant could be a better defender than Brooks.
The only issue with signing Grant is that he could be pricey. While Memphis can have the cap space, they might not want to make that move. Cheaper options would have the Grizzlies looking at Josh Richardson and Jae Crowder, who are good players but not nearly the offensive threat or perimeter defender that Grant is. However, the two, especially Crowder, are a little more experienced and could be leaders for this young roster.
After those three names, the following players will not nearly have the same impact or are restricted free agency, making them possibly expensive. While highly unlikely, Max Strus feels like another possible fit. He is a good floor spacer, but the issue would be him on the defensive end.
First-Round Draft Picks
The Grizzlies have their pick in the 2023 Draft and will select at 25.
Possible Draft Plan
The plan for the Grizzlies’ draft is the same as free agency. For the most part, Memphis has its star players, a solid backcourt, a reliable frontcourt that highlights the roster, and decent depth. This team is only missing 3-and-D players, wings that will play defense and space the floor.
NBA boards are all over the place in ranking players, mainly due to the second half of this draft lacking talent, but one name might be perfect for Memphis. Dariq Whitehead, who is coming out of Duke. Despite a lackluster college career, his game is built for the modern NBA. He is a lengthy defender while shooting 42.4% from three. Whitehead is what the Grizzlies need, but he could be selected before they have a chance.
Other names to keep track of could be Jett Howard, Jordan Hawkins, Sidy Cissoko, and Kris Murray, all kind of fall into that 3-and-D mold. These could go anywhere on the draft, but at least one should be around when Memphis selects.