I don’t know about you, but I barely even remember what happened this NBA season. As we (hopefully) prepare for its return, we’re taking you through a crash course of each Western Conference Playoff team to remind ourselves of what has happened this year. As someone who passively cheered for the Grit N’ Grind Grizzlies, I was happy to revisit their season and their rebuild efforts.
Ja Morant is the Rookie of the Year
Look, I don’t care how hard ESPN (or the NBA for that matter) wants to push Zion Williamson on everyone. I get it. He’s been a hype machine since his high school days and everyone wants to capitalize on that. But don’t let that cloud Morant’s success this season. He was absolutely electric to watch and deserves the ROY award.
He put up great numbers for a rookie guard, averaging 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.9 assists on 49/37/77 shooting splits. His advanced numbers look solid as well with a 56.8 TS%, 3.4 WS, 0.4 BPM, and 1.1 VORP. And most importantly for this season, he played in 59 games compared to Zion’s 19. Ja and Jaren are going to make for an exciting start for their rebuild. Speaking of which.
The Grizzlies rebuild is going well
I’m honestly shocked I am even saying this. I believe the Grizzlies handled Marc Gasol and Mike Conley as terribly as possible there at the end. They held onto them until most of their value had diminished even though it was very clear that that era was bygone. Stubborn management has since been given the boot and things look to be on a great track right now.
Ja Morant is a franchise point guard. He’s going to be a problem for a very long time in this league. Jaren Jackson Jr is in just his 2nd season and has equally shown flashes of brilliance. He put up nearly 17 and 5 this year and fits the modern NBA perfectly with his outside shooting at 6’11. He also provides solid defense and is the type of player you want to build your front court around.
And let’s not forget their other rookie this year in Brandon Clarke. This kid already looks like a steal of the draft and his career just started. I will be very interested to see how this team rounds out the future of their roster and builds around their young studs. By the way, Vegas had the Grizzlies at around just 27.5 wins this season.
Their schedule to end the season is brutal
The Grizzlies easily have the most difficult schedule remaining. With a 3.5 game lead and just 8 regular season games remaining, it may not matter. But look at this:
- San Antonio
- New Orleans
- Oklahoma City
Honestly, we have absolutely no idea what to expect from these teams. Some may gel quickly and get back to form in no time. Others may have guys not ready to go at all and really struggle. Either way, that looks like a rough finish for Memphis. With how easy the Pelicans have it to finish, this could actually be an interesting playoff race to end the season.