The Memphis Grizzlies were so close yet so far away in 2020. Led by Rookie of the Year Ja Morant, the Grizzlies held on to the 8th playoff spot for as long as they could, but their youth and inexperience caught up, and eventually lost that spot to the Portland Trailblazers. 2020 was a quiet free agency for Memphis, but an important one nonetheless. Let’s see how the Grizzlies look and will fair in the upcoming 2020 season.
Key Additions: Justice Winslow, Desmond Bane, Xavier Tillman
Before I get to the two rookies, let me explain Winslow. Winslow is yet to play a game for Memphis, and it will still be some time still until Winslow is on the court. But his importance in helping this squad is potentially huge. Winslow is a huge point-forward who brings a lot of energy. He may fall short of his potential of being a high pick in the draft, but Memphis is willing to take a chance on him.
As for Bane and Tillman, the Grizzlies seemed to love them enough to trade up for each player. I’ve already stated how I think Bane was the steal of the draft, and Tillman may not be far behind. NBA Twitter loved both of these picks, and both fit the mold of the type of system Memphis wants to build. Look for both rookies, especially Bane, to become key players in the Grizzlies rotation before the season is over.
Key Losses: Josh Jackson
To be completely honest, this isn’t much of a loss. The Grizzlies will have to cut their roster down by the time the season starts, but even then they have plenty of players that can be cut or sent down to the G-League that won’t really affect them. Jackson is here because he is the only player that left and saw a decent amount of minutes last season. His resurgence was short lived, however, as he barely saw any playing time in the bubble, even in the warm-up games.
Starting Lineup: Ja Morant, De’Anthony Melton, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
Because of injuries, Winslow and Jaren Jackson Jr. will not be in the lineup for some time. But expect both to be slid in there once they are healthy. They’ll be sidelined for some time, as the Grizzlies front office has stated that they will take their time with their two young starters.
A postseason birth for the Memphis Grizzlies seems unlikely this year. While they performed better than what most media members, including me, had them last season, the West has only gotten tougher. A shortened season means no mistakes. Injuries will hold them back early, and their season will depend on how the team meshes together once everyone is healthy.
I believe the Grizzlies can win 36 games this season. That puts the Grizzlies right at .500. Is it enough to make the playoffs? In the West, no. But that is ok for Grizzlies fans. The focus for this team is to get healthy and get better. Continue to build through the draft and develop not just Morant and Jackson, but other young pieces as well. Either way, this Memphis Grizzlies team will be fun to watch this year.