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Assessing the Memphis Grizzlies Roster for 2020-21
The Memphis Grizzlies were a bit better than many anticipated last season. The team opted for the full-blown rebuild, hired a virtual unknown in Taylor Jenkins to be their head coach, and brought in star point guard Ja Morant in the draft.
As it turns out, Jenkins seems to know what he’s doing, and has pieced together a solid coaching staff.
Morant looks like a superstar in the making, too.
Memphis was a fun team to watch, too, as they pushed the pace, offering a glimpse of a very bright future. They even almost made the playoffs, but fell short in a play-in series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Still, it was a successful season, all things considered, and sports bettors have to be wondering if there should be optimism going into the 2020-21 campaign.
To assess that, let’s look at the Memphis Grizzlies roster for this season.
Memphis Grizzlies Roster in 2020-21
- Key Additions: Desmond Bane, Xavier Tillman, Killian Tillie
- Key Losses: Josh Jackson
Likely Starting 5
- PG: Ja Morant
- SG: Dillon Brooks
- SF: Kyle Anderson
- PF: Jaren Jackson Jr.
- C: Jonas Valanciunas
The Grizzlies are a fun, fast offensive team due to the presence of Morant. He is not wanting for confidence, he’s a good leader, and he can do it all offensively.
He’s what makes Memphis go, and he has a nice collection of big men to work with. JV and JJJ will give him an excellent pairing down low, provided Jackson can stay healthy. For what it’s worth, he will not be ready to start the year.
Zach Kleiman says he expects Justise Winslow to return “early this season” but probably not for the opener. Says Jaren Jackson Jr. will “be out a minute” and not be ready to start the season.— Chris Herrington (@ChrisHerrington) November 19, 2020
Memphis does need to figure out their other wing spots. Dillon Brooks is a fine scorer, but he’s quite inconsistent. Anderson can’t be their long-term small forward, either.
As things stand, this is a fine starting five that can compete most nights. However, the inconsistency on the outside could prove problematic in more tense settings.
Memphis Grizzlies’ Bench
- Tyus Jones
- De’Anthony Melton
- Grayson Allen
- Desmond Bane
- John Konchar
- Marko Guduric
- Jahlil Tripp
- Ahmad Caver
- Justise Winslow
- Sean McDermott
- Brandon Clark
- Xavier Tillman
- Gorgui Dieng
- Killian Tillie
- Jontay Porter
Grizzlies’ Best Player – Ja Morant
There’s no denying that Ja Morant is the best player on the Memphis Grizzlies. The guy helped completely change the way we look at this Memphis team from an offensive perspective, and he calmly put up 17.8 points and 7.3 assists per game as a rookie.
This, while being the focal point for opposing defenses to target, and also battling injuries through his initial campaign.
Morant was a ton of fun to watch, and he made the Grizzlies competitive as he adjusted to the rigors of the NBA.
The crazy thing about Morant is his strong rookie season appeared to be just scratching the surface of who he can become as a player.
There is still more defensive upside for a guy who averaged 0.9 steals per contest, and his first-year shooting percentages (33.5% from long range, 47.7% from the field) offer real optimism as far as how efficient he can be moving forward.
Regardless of how Morant matures as a player, he’s the best Memphis has to offer, and it’s not particularly close. With him leading the charge, the Grizz have a shot at the playoffs.
Memphis’s X-Factor – Jaren Jackson Jr.
I’d argue that the entire Memphis roster outside of Morant is their true x-factor. The Grizzlies already know they have a superstar in the making, and the big question is which pieces they can trust around him.
For now, I’d say Jonas Valaciunas is a locked in option where they know what they’re getting almost every night. On paper, Jaren Jackson Jr. should be that, and then some.
The “then some” is what makes JJJ a legit x-factor, as his offensive upside is through the roof. He can also be a difference-maker defensively (1.6 blocks per game last year).
Jackson’s health, consistency, and rebounding have all been question marks, but the overall upside is mouth-watering. If he can take his game to the next level, he may give Memphis the third reliable star they need to challenge for more than just a mere playoff appearance.
Final Assessment of the Memphis Grizzlies Roster
The Grizzlies are fun, but they aren’t very efficient. They run the 6th fastest pace in the league, but their offense as a whole leaves a lot to be desired, and their defense is a middle of the pack unit at best.
They actually have the size to be a problem for a lot of teams, and they have plenty of scorers. With Morant’s leadership and a solid coach in Jenkins, Memphis will continue to be pesky, if not consistently good.
Unfortunately, they don’t have a second legit star next to Morant just yet. JV and JJJ can be that guy in a pinch, but over the course of an entire season or a tense playoff series, they’ll fall short.
Bettors can target Memphis as a potential playoff team, and/or to win over 40 games. Anything beyond that, of course, may be wishful thinking.
Want more 2020-21 NBA roster breakdowns? Hit the links below.