The Memphis Grizzlies were a surprising frontrunner in the Western Conference last season. With a talented young core led by a future MVP candidate, will the Grizzlies take the next step toward’s NBA immortality?
Memphis Grizzlies 2022-23 Season Preview
Memphis surpassed all expectations last season by earning the second-best record in the west with 56 wins. This was would have earned them the top seed in the Eastern Conference, where they may find themselves someday during the league’s inevitable expansion. As it stands, the Grizzlies finished eight games behind the Phoenix Suns for the best record out west. Memphis drew the seventh-seed Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the playoffs.
The Grizzlies recovered from a game-one loss and bested the Timberwolves in a six-game series. Ja Morant continued his rise as one of the youngest superstars in the league, leading the series with 10.5 assists per game while scoring 21.5 points. Unfortunately for Memphis, they ran into the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Stephen Curry and company sent the Grizzlies home after six games.
Despite being inactive in free agency, the Grizzlies made moves to add depth to their rotation. Memphis was incredibly active during the NBA Draft, making several that led to them acquiring first-round draft picks Jake Laravia and David Roddy. The Grizzlies also added second-round pick Kennedy Chandler in a deal with the San Antonio Spurs. Rookies Vince Williams Jr. and Kenneth Lofton Jr. signed two-way deals in the offseason. Memphis may need to call on one of these two early in the season while Jaren Jackson Jr. recovers from a foot injury.
The team from last season is virtually intact, with the exception of Kyle Anderson, whose defensive presence will be missed, and De’Anthony Melton, who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. Memphis added a veteran presence to their locker room in shooting guard Danny Green, who is still recovering from an ACL injury. Green might be cut to make more room in the roster for a younger rotation player, but the 13-year veteran has the most career and playoff experience on the payroll. This could be a valuable addition to a squad that otherwise contains only three players with at least five years of experience (Steven Adams, Tyus Jones, and Dillon Brooks).
Memphis Grizzlies 2022-23 Outlook
Early power rankings have Memphis in the top five, and some oddsmakers have them near the top ten in championship odds. Morant established himself as one of the faces of the NBA with his incredible playmaking last year. We can expect this to continue in 2022, but can we expect the Grizzlies to repeat their team’s success? It won’t be easy.
Memphis won’t have the luxury of taking anyone by surprise this season. On top of this, the Western Conference will be stronger this year. Phoenix held on to their star big man Deandre Ayton, the Dallas Mavericks made significant moves to improve, and both teams in Los Angeles look to be healthy to begin the season. Don’t forget about the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets. Memphis will have to earn everything they get this year, but neither the team nor their fans would have it any other way.
If Bane continues to grow into one of the best three-and-d in the league and Jackson stays healthy enough to repeat his DPOY-worthy effort from last year, then this team can compete with anyone in the league. This is a certified playoff team with a solid chance to represent the west in the NBA Finals in the next few years. I’m just not sold that it will be this year.