HomeSportsMemphis Grizzlies 2024 NBA offseason preview: New hope for the near future

Memphis Grizzlies 2024 NBA offseason preview: New hope for the near future

Ja Morant and the Grizzlies could make a deep playoff push next season. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Season 2023-2024: 27-55

Highlight of the season: A win over Golden State on January 15 when Vince Williams Jr. (24 points) and GG Jackson (23 points) solved the organization’s longstanding wing problems.

With the hope of a better future. The Grizzlies’ season ended early in the year, first via All-Star Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension and Brandon Clarke’s injury dating back to last season, and later with Morant himself going down, along with Marcus Smart ( 20 matches). games played) and Desmond Bane (42 games). The team was so injured that it ended up playing 33 different players, which is more than double the normal NBA roster.

During Memphis’ long, injury-plagued season, Jaren Jackson Jr. however, an increased level of offensive responsibility, scoring 22.5 points per game and increasing his shot count from 13 last year to a whopping 17.6 per game this season. This will prove to be extremely important in his offensive evolution, as the 6-foot-4 big man must cement himself as a viable and reliable threat behind Morant and Bane on a nightly basis. The Grizzlies – historically a defensive-oriented franchise – now have three players, all with major offensive upside, and that’s before we get to GG Jackson.

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GG Jackson, the league’s youngest player, is a 6-9 dynamic combo forward, capable of playing on the wing and filling a more pure power forward role. He was the 45th selection in last year’s draft, meaning expectations were low this year. Instead, Jackson saw an opportunity in the sidelined half of the roster and worked his way into the rotation. He did this by taking a large number of three-pointers (six attempts in just under 26 minutes), while also getting to the free-throw line at a decent clip. He showed a level of scoring ability from the wing position that Memphis has needed for years, which is a large part of why the fan base is understandably optimistic about next season.

There was also the improved play of sophomore Vince Williams Jr., a 6-4 upset who can swing to the wing. He is less powerful offensively than Jackson, averaging 10 points per game, but is a high-caliber rebounder for his size (5.6 per game) and a surprisingly effective passer. He should have a role next season, either as a sixth man or as the final starter in case head coach Taylor Jenkins prefers GG Jackson’s scorer to come off the bench.

Regardless of how Jenkins structures his rotation next season, the most important outcome of this season will be the arrival of much-needed help, who will be ready to add Morant, Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. to flank the Grizzlies’ attempt to make a deep playoff run. push.

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Additionally, additional roster upgrades are in the pipeline. Given the organization’s struggles to generate wins this season, the Grizzlies are expected to be selected in the mid-lottery in June. If the team stays healthy next season, Memphis will only contribute to an even more competitive Western Conference.

It may sound ridiculous that a 27-win team doesn’t have many needs, but that is indeed the case with Memphis. That said, there is one glaring need it does have: the recovery. Jaren Jackson Jr.’s Troubles on the glass are well known, and the team needs a big, physical center who can come in and turn the battle on the boards into an advantage for the Grizzlies.

If Memphis wants Ja Morant 2.0 to run the second unit, Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham is an option in the lottery. He was one of the best guards going downhill, averaging 15.2 points and 3.9 assists per game. UConn’s Donovan Clingan, Duke’s Kyle Filipowski and Baylor’s 6-11 center Yves Missi would join Jaren Jackson Jr. can add some size to the track. –Kristen Peek

Projected draft picks (pre-lottery): Nos. 7, 9 and 57

The Grizzlies are an expensive team, with only the four Morant, Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Smart combined for more than $116 million, and are currently expected to be about $4 million over the luxury tax line before salaries are added. the possible seventh overall selection in the draft.

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They have a team option on Luke Kennard worth nearly $15 million, which they could decline to make their cash situation less tight, but that decision isn’t necessarily an easy one given Kennard’s shooting ability.

Should the Grizzlies try to free up some cap space to avoid the tax penalty, they could trade Ziaire Williams, a former top-10 pick, to a team that can absorb his entire $6.1 million salary. Jon Konchar, also worth $6.1 million, is another name that could be sold.

Most important free agents: No

To win. This isn’t one of those situations where the Grizzlies stay patient, build a culture and kick the bucket. They’re a young team, but they’ve been to the playoffs before and just added some key pieces to their rotation. They still have a long window to compete, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t eager to go out and join the elite of the Western Conference. Expect them to make a lot of noise in the league next season.

Stay healthy; that’s all we need. Smart and Bane played 62 games together. Morant missed between serving his 25-game suspension and undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in January. An unintended benefit of this rash of injuries has been the emergence of Williams. Fantasy managers can confidently spend a late-round pick on him, with his role expanding ahead of his third season. – Dan Titus

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