The NBA is just a little over a month away from teeing off on December 22nd. Teams are gearing up for roster moves as trade rumors are heating up with the NBA draft nearing on November 18th. Monday the 16th at noon is when trades can be made. Free agency opens up later this week on Friday.
As the season approaches it is expected to be as competitive as ever with superstar players such as Steph Curry and Kevin Durant returning to the hardwood. It feels as if this upcoming season is going to be very reminiscent of the late 2010s with numerous teams considered title contenders. Regardless of the current title-contending teams such as the Lakers, Clippers, Bucks, Celtics, and Heat, there’s a new generation of talent that will be putting their team’s foot forward with very bright futures ahead. Players such as Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic, Devin Booker, Trae Young, and Ja Morant are the future of the league and are looking to continue making their imprint. Teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies, who’ve had a couple of solid drafts in recent years, are one of the more promising young teams looking to take that next leap.
The Grizzlies finished 9th in the Western Conference at 34-39 this past season led by their 2020 Rookie of the Year point guard Ja Morant and All-Rookie big man Jaren Jackson Jr. They will look to continue to be playoff contenders for years to come with their young core helping reach their championship aspirations. They were on the verge of a playoff berth before being eliminated by the Portland Trailblazers in the 8th seed playoff play-in game. Losing Jackson Jr. to a torn meniscus in his left knee three games into the NBA bubble was very impactful to their playoff hopes, but they should be one of the teams on the rise this upcoming season.
Ja Morant is already one of the best young players in the NBA and has already shown flashes of superstardom in his lone season. He posted averages of 17.8 points, four boards, and 7.3 assists a night on 48% shooting from the field. The sky is the limit for Morant’s ceiling with his combination of insane raw athleticism and ability to create for himself and others. Once his perimeter jump shot becomes more and more consistent and he comes into his own physically adding on some additional muscle Morant will be a problem for all opposing players. That’s the type of talent he possesses. His two-man game with Jackson Jr. has already given the Grizzlies a foundation to build around for their future. Jackson Jr. is a very talented inside-out big man where he averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a night on 47% shooting from the field and an outstanding 39% from the three-point line. Starting shooting guard, Dillon Brooks is another solid contributor to this young Grizzlies squad providing another source of offense, especially on the perimeter. The former Oregon Duck is a career 35% three-point shooter and had career highs in points per game (16.2) and free throw percentage (80%).
Backup point guard Tyus Jones holds the NBA record for assist to turnover ratio and is very capable of relieving Morant of floor general duties when he enters the game. All-Rookie power forward Brandon Clarke went under the radar this year but was one of the brightest rookies last year averaging 12 points and six rebounds off the bench. Two-way wing Kyle Anderson has been a solid all-around team player since he entered the league and provides the Grizzlies with versatility on both ends being able to play and guard multiple positions. Veteran Center, Jonas Valančiūnas, averaged a double-double in a resurging second season in Memphis.
The Grizzlies only have one pick in this upcoming NBA Draft picking 40th overall. Their upcoming notable free agents that they’ll need to make decisions on are swingman Josh Jackson, the former lottery pick who’s had a struggling uphill battle up to this point of his young career. Jackson is unrestricted. Journeyman veteran big man Anthony Tolliver is also an unrestricted free agent, and second-year backup point guard De’Anthony Melton is a restricted free agent.
The Grizzlies don’t have any notable players that they’re afraid of losing to free agency that’ll impact their future. It would definitely be in their best interest to try and pursue some more 3-D players that’ll help space and open the floor for Morant when he’s orchestrating the offense and attacking the lane. With his vision and ability to pass the basketball, the Grizzlies offense can only be more dangerous if you surround him with some shooters on the perimeter. Shooters like Dillon Brooks and Grayson Allen for example already benefit. One can only imagine someone that could be just as impactful on the defensive end like a Khris Middleton, PJ Tucker, or Robert Covington. Upcoming 3-D free agents include Marcus Morris, Avery Bradley, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The Memphis Grizzlies should entertain the idea of pursuing free agent two-way swingman Jerami Grant, who has a player option this offseason. There’s only one year/$9.3 million remaining on his current deal and after his performance in the bubble, you would think he’ll opt-out to pursue a more worthy contract. Grant, who is coming off a solid season as a Denver Nugget, is one of the most versatile players in the league with his ability to space the floor and defend multiple positions at a high level. According to NBA.com’s Matchup Data, Grant spent most of his time in the bubble defending Lebron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Donovan Mitchell, and Joe Ingles. Grant has also improved his three-point shot and has shot 39% in each of the past two seasons. Grant, who is still only 25 years old, can help boost the Grizzlies immensely on both sides of the floor and could help them on their way to becoming serious playoff contenders in the always stacked Western Conference.