The Memphis Grizzlies have arrived.
Through a series of resounding victories, the Grizzlies have announced to the league, and to anyone willing to listen, that they are ready to make their presence felt. The thing is, I’m not sure there are enough people willing to listen yet.
Honestly, this team might prefer it that way.
A new era in Grizzlies basketball began when they selected Ja Morant with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Despite quickly rising through the ranks to be considered one of the top prospects in the draft, Morant he entered the league with a huge chip on his shoulder as an oft-overlooked top middle prospect in college.
He’s channeled that chip into a confidence that runs through the entire roster. And as Morant’s star has grown, so has his influence as a leader.
It helps that Memphis has built the perfect team to embrace this persona. Some players are higher profile than others, but all have bought an identity that keeps the team in one deal. It’s like a modern twist on the attitude of the Grizzlies teams that no one wanted to face between 2010 and 2015.
Think Grit and Grind… with the knowledge to crack jokes and memes on Twitter.
– JaMorant (@JaMorant) December 30, 2023
With team chemistry as a foundation, the product on the pitch has blossomed as a result. At this point in the season, it’s clear that the uptake from top to bottom has been phenomenal, to say the least. Each member of this Grizzlies roster knows, understands, and stars in their respective roles.
It’s actually a beautiful thing to see.
Whether it’s Jaren Jackson Jr., who fits the mold of an athletic big man capable of protecting the rim and shooting the 3-pointer, or Dillon Brooks, the more confident forward who isn’t shy about letting it fly but has also bought a role as a defensive stopper, or the veterans, Steven Adams and Kyle Anderson, who have had their fair share of playoff battles and can keep the team composed with their presence… There’s also Desmond Bane, who, every night, is doing every team that dropped him to 30 in the 2020 NBA Draft looks dumber by the day.
Oh, and I can’t forget the consummate backup point guard Tyus Jones, rookie Ziaire Williams, punctilious John Konchar, plucky Brandon Clarke and tough Xavier Tillman.
This Grizzlies team is scary They deeply and clearly love playing together.
Free night? Injury? many teams tell adopt the next man mentality, but the Grizzlies really Live that. Look no further than 17 rebounds, Konchar’s career best as a 6-foot-5 shooter, as an example of team commitment and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Even if it doesn’t fit within its specified “role”.
Every member of this team enjoys those opportunities. And that’s exactly why other teams’ teams shouldn’t want to see them in the postseason.
Well, this Memphis team is young. And that? Based on the past few years, this team is really ahead of schedule and in a position to make a lot of noise in the postseason.
Just look at the progress:
- 2019-20: 34-39, seeded 9th, lost in Play-In Game
- 2020-21: 38-34, 9th seed, 2-0 Play-In Tournament, lost in Western Conference First Round
- 2021-22: 30-15 through 45 games.
The Grizzlies are not only on track to break their record from last season, but they’re also on the linear path to experiencing true success in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
As young as they are, they have seen a lot in three short years.
It’s something we’ve seen time and time again, teams experiencing their bumps and bruises on the postseason stage, learning, recovering and coming back prepared to go even further.
If history is any indication, the Grizzlies, who have gone from play-in losers to play-in winners and a solid playoff team, the next step is a team capable of winning a playoff series.
As bought as this team is, we should see them make it a reality in 2023.