Key Needs for the Memphis Grizzlies to Address Going Into the 2021 NBA Season
The Memphis Grizzlies didn’t make the playoff run they thought they were going to once the NBA entered the NBA bubble. But for a team that wasn’t expected to sniff the playoffs at all prior to the start of the season, they delivered promising returns.
Top pick Ja Morant displayed superstar potential during his rookie season, putting up 17.8 points and 7.3 assists per game. This was despite battling nagging injuries, and playing with a young roster around him.
There is some good to be excited about in Memphis. Morant is the leading act, to be sure, but big man Jonas Valaciunas has been a rock for this team, and young guys like Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. also looked good last season.
The team is still very young and inexperienced, however. Will the Grizzlies just keep trucking on, allowing their young core to come together, or should the franchise make some bold moves to address some problem areas?
Join me for a look at the Memphis Grizzlies’ biggest needs for the 2021 NBA season to find out.
Bring in a Stud Shooting Guard
When looking at the key needs for the Memphis Grizzlies, one that stands out is shooting guard. Dillon Brooks surprised with 16.2 points per game on the year and he’s still just 24 years old, but he was not the most consistent performer.
It is Halloween Eve, Memphis, and we’re in the mood to talk about the biggest Trick or Treat player in Grizzlies history…— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) October 30, 2020
It isn’t Tony Allen. It is Dillon Brooks, according to @J_Timberfake_ https://t.co/GRR9MP9kGD pic.twitter.com/Ytxsiuzmv3
A former second-round pick, Brooks can either be looked at as an amazing value to move forward with, or someone Memphis needs to upgrade over.
If Memphis addresses other issues and/or Brooks becomes a more reliable scorer on a nightly basis, I think there’s a chance they can get away with him as one of their key guys.
However, this could be the spot where the Grizzlies say they’re “good, but not good enough”. Brooks is clearly a high-volume and erratic scorer, and his 40.7% shooting from the floor – not to mention some horribly off nights – can create chaos in the offense.
Memphis is set at the point and down low. But if they can somehow swing a huge trade guys a guy like Bradley Beal or C.J. McCollum, it’s something they’ll have to consider.
They could also just sit tight here for the moment, and spend their second-round pick on another guy to push Brooks. Quality shooting guard prospects like Desmond Bane, Cassius Stanley, and Nate Hinton could all be available for the taking in round two of the 2021 NBA Draft.
Figure Out Small Forward
If the Grizz opt to move ahead with Brooks, then they at least need to upgrade the other weak spot on the perimeter.
That’s clearly small forward, as Justise Winslow has been unable to stay healthy, and Kyle Anderson isn’t a guy who should be starting games in the NBA.
Anderson is still on the books with a ghastly contract, and Winslow is still supposedly in the team’s long-term plans. One can’t really be relied upon, the other shouldn’t be, and the team is even losing depth with reserve wing Josh Jackson entering free agency.
Ideally, a rising Memphis team would land a versatile small forward who can play defense and hit open jumpers. Morant is the guy creating most of the offense, so this isn’t even a position where the Grizzlies are asking a whole lot from.
Of the two-position needs, this is the spot I’d want to upgrade the most. There is no star power, reliability, or consistency here. Even if Winslow is healthy and ends up being the guy, he’s a negative as a shooter (career 33.7% from long range).
If Memphis wants to make a splash in free agency and address this spot, they could give Danilo Gallinari or Davis Bertans a look.
Add 3-Point Shooters
Those two guys would also help a very big Memphis Grizzlies need, which is shooting. To be honest, Memphis actually does have a bevy of isolation scorers and shooters, but their team as a whole just isn’t where it needs to be in that regard.
On the year, Memphis ranked just 25th in threes made, and ranked 22nd in three-point shooting percentage.
There is potential with their starting five and their key bench guys, but bringing in a lights out shooter (or two) would create added competition, bolster their overall depth, and perhaps even improve the starting five.
Bertans is the main guy I’d be looking at out on the open market, but I wouldn’t rule out a trade to solve two of these issues at once.
The Grizzlies are already knocking on the door of a deep Western Conference playoff run. They’re fun, they compete, and they have no fear.
This team has a franchise point guard in Ja Morant, and they have three very useful big men they can rotate and deploy in a number of different ways. However, the Memphis Grizzlies need to bring in a bit more star power, and they need to be tougher to defend from long range.
Memphis could cure what ails them with one big move, but chances are they will largely stand pat and hope their current core matures into a winner together.
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