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Basketball News

Preview 2022/23 | Memphis charts its course

As the opening of the new season draws closer and closer, USA Basketball continues its traditional presentation, franchise by franchise, of the upcoming NBA season. Like every year, this one takes the form of a countdown, from the worst record in the league to our favorite for the title of champion.

Today, we are on the road to Memphis, with the Grizzlies rather calm after the best season in their history with 56 wins for 26 losses. It’s as good as the great era of “Grit & Grind” with Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, in 2012-13!

The big downside is obviously the (new) injury of Jaren Jackson Jr. operated on a stress fracture of the right foot and on the flank for the start of the regular season, with a return between November and December. After the cruel defeat in six games against the Warriors in the semi-finals of the conference, precipitated by another injury, that of Ja Morant at the ankle, the Grizzlies did not make a palace revolution.

On the contrary, they have been rather active on the contract extension front, with Ja Morant, Tyus Jones, Steven Adams, and even John Konchar. We take the same and start again ! Waiting for the returns of Jaren Jackson Jr. and possibly Danny Green, defector from Philadelphia and injured knee.

With its rear wheel drive among the most dynamic in the League, with Ja Morant and Desmond Bane, Memphis can travel. At 23 and 24, the two friends are already above 45 points in total, in addition to a gaggle of assists and baskets created for their team. Like last season, Ja Morant will rain or shine in Tennessee, hoping to avoid the infirmary, he who has never played more than 67 games in the regular season.

A young team made up of a hard core of locally trained players, after being carefully drafted, Memphis continues to bet on youth renewal, and will promote this year Ziaire Williams. With the departure of Kyle Anderson, the sophomore winger will have his chance to enroll in the long-term future of the Grizzlies. Which have a good shooting window. Over the next five years at least.

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Contents

SUMMER MOVEMENTS

Arrivals : Jake LaRavia, David Roddy, Kennedy Chandler

Departures De’Anthony Melton (Sixers), Kyle Anderson (Wolves)

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ja Morant

It is the obvious and unavoidable choice as it hypnotizes. Feline and explosive, Ja Morant is the new king of the air in the NBA! With his daring takeoffs, arabesques and contorted tricks, the Grizzlies All-Star point guard is quite simply a “must watch”. Every evening, he can release an action that will end up in the Top 10 of the year!

But, in his fourth season, we will also expect Ja Morant to assert himself even more as a leader, and to dominate the important moments. If he is already clearly the boss in his team, the big contract he signed last July for 193 million dollars amply confirms it, the former Murray State can still improve in his management of highlights and times weak, and endgames of course.

At 33% in 3-point career, having finished at 34% last season, Ja Morant is also perfectible on outside shooting. A weapon that he would be wrong not to refine as it could open up even more avenues for him towards the circle, or for the pass to the unmarked teammate. As long as he further increases his production while playing all the games (or almost), Ja Morant has quite the profile of a regular season MVP…

Average age: 24.3 years old

Payroll: $176.2 million (8th)

THE IDEAL SCENARIO

Like last season, the Grizzlies are a winning machine with their attacking game academy, namely a thorough passing game in the service of Ja Morant’s flashes, and their seriousness in defense. Still in the Top 5 both in attack and defense, Memphis prances at the head of a Western Conference yet very competitive.

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Ja Morant is playing at MVP level and building a strong record in the race for that title, with a more complete game than ever. At his side, Desmond Bane confirms his rise and he brings with him Ziaire Williams, who has strengthened himself and manages to hold on better on his finishes until the circle. And since Jaren Jackson Jr. returns in November and ultimately only misses a few games, all is well in Tennessee.

Freshly extended, Steven Adams also holds the house in the paint. With him or Brandon Clarke, the pick & roll is running at full speed for Ja Morant and Desmond Bane. The options are multiple and allow you to never lower the pace. Taylor Jenkins and his staff continue to produce rotations and Killian Tillie takes the opportunity to carry out a good campaign, even to see him also extended in turn.

The Grizzlies are a second straight season in the Top 4 of the Western Conference to secure the advantage of the field playoffs. With Jaren Jackson Jr. in perfect shape as the playoffs approach, and even Danny Green playing the X factors, Memphis arrives in the “postseason” with the wind in its sails. To do better than last year.

WORST SCENARIO

While Jaren Jackson Jr.’s recovery drags on, the Grizzlies are bogged down in the standings as soon as winter comes. Ja Morant and Desmond Bane may be working hard, but Memphis’ offense is floundering with Adams and Clark unable to get away and Brooks offering no creative alternative. More in the odor of sanctity after his last playoffs and at the end of the contract, the latter is the subject of many rumors which disturb the group.

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Similarly, with a bigger salary than the star of the team, Tyus Jones disappoints in his role as an understudy. On the bench, it’s not ecstasy either with duty players of course, but second blades that don’t bring the spark. The losses of Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton are finally heavier than expected while the young Ziaire Williams is still too tender to assume a role of 3rd offensive option.

In the soft underbelly of a Western conference that has raised the tone, the Grizzlies still manage to climb into the ten, but they must go through the “play-in” to participate in the last dance. A regression that stains the ambitious program already well launched by Ja Morant and Memphis.

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