The Memphis Grizzlies finally decided to move on from the ‘grit and grind’ era. After trading away Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, they are going to have to go through a major overhaul next year to continue rebuilding.
The Grizzlies were known for their top-notch hustle, effort, and physical style of basketball. Double teams, triple teams, helping the helper, you name it, these guys were willing to put their bodies on the line on every single possession.
There’s a chance that this playstyle will continue going forward, but first, their young players need to develop and find their groove in the NBA.
How will they line up to start the year? Let’s break it down:
Bench: Tyus Jones, Grayson Allen, Bruno Caboclo, Andre Iguodala, Josh Jackson, Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke
Point Guard: Ja Morant
Trading away Mike Conley was the right move for the Grizzlies, as they can now hand the keys of the offense over to their 2nd overall pick, Ja Morant. Morant is one of the most athletic players we’ve seen in years, a prolific scorer, aggressive driver, and an already well-rounded playmaker.
Morant is the kind of electrifying player that can light up an entire arena in the blink of an eye. He’s not afraid to take the big shot and will posterize you if given the chance. His shooting needs to improve, though.
Shooting Guard: Dillon Brooks
Dillon Brooks has flown under the radar for some time now, but he’s actually been pretty solid for this team. He’s shown some nice scoring ability and has proven to be an efficient shooter from beyond the arc.
Still, he’s going to have a lot of pressure on his shoulders next season with Grayson Allen fighting for playing time — nonetheless, he can become this team’s third scoring option if he can stay healthy.
Small Forward: Jae Crowder
We already know what Jae Crowder is capable of giving night in and night out. With him, you’ll have a top-tier hustler who can play lockdown defense on the wing but will struggle to consistently knock down shots.
Crowder is a streaky shooter and can give you more on offense than corner threes. His limitations in that regard make him a liability at times, but he’ll bring some good physicality and veteran leadership for this locker room.
Power Forward: Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jaren Jackson Jr. was truly impressive during his first year in the league, but injuries kept him out of the hardwood for some time. Still, we could understand why the Grizzlies were willing to let go of Marc Gasol.
Jackson showed glimpses of Kevin Garnett’s ability. He is long and has nice skills to make reads on defense and block shots, but he can also play with his face to the basket, spot-up, and even hit the open three. He’ll be a stud, for sure.
Center: Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas could still be moved at some point in the season if a contending team feels like bringing in a veteran big man, but he’s already embraced his role as a veteran leader for the surging Grizzlies.
Valanciunas is a physical big man who will set picks and finish on the pick and roll. He can be a dominant rebounder but tends to struggle against quicker, more athletic centers.
Still, his presence will open up a lot of space for Jackson’s drives.