Overall Team Performance
When it comes to overall offensive statistics the Grizzlies may not look extremely impressive. They ranked 13th in both points per game and 20th in offensive rating. While these numbers are pretty on par for where an 8th seeded team should be the Grizzlies were more impressive than these numbers. One aspect that their offense shined in was having a high output which is shown by their offense having the 7th highest pace in the NBA.
Looking into the individual offensive statistics of the Grizzlies as a team there a clear strengths as well as a couple weaknesses. First off, Memphis was able to be extremely efficient from the field as a team. They ranked 7th in field goal percentage in the NBA shooting 47%.
There field goal percentage is even more impressive considering that arguable their biggest weakness was their 3-point shooting. The Grizzlies ranked in the bottom third of the league shooting a mere 35% from deep while shooting a low volume from beyond the arc. The other main weakness of this Memphis team was their propensity for turnovers. This was the only other main statistical category that Memphis was in the bottom third of with 15.3 turnovers per game.
As I mentioned before the young Grizzlies were able to play at a high pace. This is clear from the fact that they were a top-5 team in points in transition with 23.3 points per game. This also played a part in Memphis’ ability to shoot such an efficient field goal percentage.
Aside from the ones previously mentioned the Grizzlies were also elite in two other areas which were rebounding and assists. The Grizzlies were just above the middle of the pack in offensive rebounds but were able to notch the 6th most rebounds per game. Alongside this they were one of the best teams in the NBA when it came to sharing the basketball. They ranked 2nd in the league in assists per game with a whopping 27 per game. This obviously shows their willingness as a team to share the ball but also is a positive sign for the team chemistry as a whole.
Key Individual Performance
When it comes to individual performances the Grizzlies had their fair share of promising developments. Memphis had 6 players score in double figures per game and the average age of these players was 22.6. This bodes well for the future of the Grizzlies offensively.
First and foremost, I must show just how impressive of a season Ja Morant put together. The top candidate for this seasons Rookie of the Year award was the biggest reason for the Grizzlies’ success this season. Morant led the team in both points (17.6) and assists (6.9) per game. He did so with impressive shooting percentages of 49% from the field and 37% from 3-point land.
Memphis’ 1st round pick from the previous year, Jaren Jackson, formed a formidable duo with Morant. The MSU product was able to increase his points per game to 17 a game and made the developmental strides that the Grizzlies brass were looking for. A big development in Jackson’s game was improved 3-point shot. He boasted his 3-point percentage to an impressive 40% while shooting over 6 threes a game. This was huge for a team that can use all the shooting the can get, and Jackson ended up being their best and most reliable shooter from beyond the arc.
One are Jackson still needs to work on is his rebounding especially as he is seeing more minutes at center but being on a great rebounding team this wasn’t a detriment. On top of this Jackson played with a great compliment to his game in Jonas Valančiūnas. Valančiūnas, who was acquired in the Gasol trade from last year, put 15 points per game while also averaging career highs in rebounds (11.2), assists (1.8), and field goal percentage (58.6%).
Dillion Brooks had a bounce back year scoring 15.7 points per game while providing some much-needed shooting. Along with Brooks, rookie Brandon Clarke put together a great 1st year in the league. He chipped in 12 points a contest while distributing over an assist per game, from the 4-spot, and was 2nd on the roster in offensive rebounds per game.
Past these main contributors there was a few others that deserve to be mentioned. Acquired in the middle of the year former 1st round pick Josh Jackson showed some potential through 18 games with the Grizzlies. Jae Crowder provided a veteran presence but struggled with his efficiency offensively. Lastly, De’Anthony Melton, Kyle Anderson, and Tyus Jones were good role players and provided plus contributions.
Overall Team Performance
As a team, the Grizzlies were a middle of the pack team defensively and showed some clear strengths and weaknesses. They ranked 16th in defensive rating while allowing the 11th most points per game. There were clear strengths with this Memphis ballclub.
The Grizzlies were able to rank amongst the best in traditional defensive statistics. They recorded the 7th most blocks per game with 5.6 and the 12th most steals with 8 per game. Memphis was also able to rank in the top ten in opponents field goal percentage limiting the opposition to only 45% from the field.
As I mentioned before the Grizzlies were one of the better rebounding teams around. This was most apparent on the defensive side of the ball. They were amongst the league’s best in defensive rebounding ranking in the top-5.
When it comes to defensive weakness there were some glaring ones for the grizzlies. They ranked in the bottom 5 in both opponents points off turnovers opponents second chance points. The points of turnovers directly relates back to their excessive turnovers on the other side of the ball but the 2nd chance points is somewhat surprising considering they don’t allow a relatively high offensive rebound rate.
The last two areas of improvements for the Grizzlies would be limiting open 3-point looks and limiting their opponents opportunities at the free throw line. They ranked in the bottom third of both these categories.
Key Individual Performances
The Grizzlies overall played a good enough brand of defensive, but I believe they have they individual talent to improve next season on that end. Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson both have high potential on the defensive end. In Jackson’s case he has already shown this through his first two years in the league. He provides good rim protection blocking over a shot and a half per game.
Morant has shown that he has the ability on the defensive end and his athleticism is a big reason why. Even with his more slender frame I believe he could be a difference maker alongside Jackson on both ends of the floor. Brandon Clarke also has huge potential on the defensive end as well. He was named the WCC Defensive Player of the Year in college and showed why this season in limited minutes. When looking at per 36 minutes stats he averaged a steal and over a block per game.
The talent doesn’t stop there as Jae Crowder showed that he still was an above average defender. While Valančiūnas isn’t a great defender he did provide some rim protection blocking a shot per game. Kyle Anderson also continued to be the solid defender that we saw for multiple years in San Antonio. The freshly acquired Gorgui Dieng and Josh Jackson also showed plus defensive metrics over the few games they played in Memphis.
Lastly, they will be getting help next season with Justise Winslow hopefully making his Grizzlies debut after being acquired from Miami in the Andre Iguodala trade. Winslow is as good as a defender as they come and gives them even more potential on that end of the floor.
Taylor Jenkins was hired following the firing of J.B. Bickerstaff last year and after serving as an assistant for the Bucks and Hawks over the past 6 years. The hire of Jenkins was a big step for the Grizzlies owner as well as front office and he proved them right this season. Jenkins led this very young roster to a top-8 spot and was even named the Western Conference’s Coach of the Month in January.
Jenkins in the second youngest coach in the league and in my eyes has proved that he is a great fit to develop these young studs on the Grizzlies. He has experience developing players in the G-League as well as an assistant. I expect more success to come Jenkins’ way over the next few years in Memphis.
The Grizzlies are set to only get better next year. As I have mentioned constantly throughout this piece Memphis has a roster filled with young players with a lot of potential and I believe they will continue to take the leap next year. They should be guaranteed to be back in the playoff race, but a big improvement depends on what level of development Morant, Jackson, etc. have and what approach they take this offseason.
Memphis Grizzlies Roster FAQ
Will the Grizzlies try to build off their surprising success and get aggressive this offseason?
The Grizzlies are now a bit ahead of schedule when it comes to their rebuild which begs the question of whether or not they should try, and jump start their competitive window. It would be a risky move, but they don’t really have much to jeopardizes being without a draft pick in the upcoming draft. I’m not really sure how they could be really improve with not having too much cap space and I think it’s more likely that they are more complacent this offseason. I expect them to just let their young studs develop and go at it next year with a similar roster.
How does Justise Winslow fit into this roster?
As I mentioned before the Grizzlies acquired Winslow, a former lottery pick, from the Heat in a 3-team trade. Winslow will no doubt provide them with a great defender but what else beyond that? The biggest thing is he must focus on getting healthy after only playing 11 games this past season, but I think he could be a big addition for Memphis.
Winslow provides a versatile player on both ends. He can play and defend any position 1-4 and has show playmaking ability averaging over 4 assists a game over the 2019-2019 season as well as his shortened 2019-2020 season. Beyond this Winslow’s 3-point stroke has also improved which is a big need of the Grizzlies.
Can and/or will the Grizzlies move Gorgui Dieng?
Dieng was the baggage that came along with acquiring Winslow. While he is still a capable backup center it’s his contract that makes him an unwanted commodity. Dieng is owed over $17 million next season which is obviously massively more than he is worth.
It could be a necessity to move Dieng if there is a certain player, they like in free agency but Dieng will be nearly impossible to move unless they give up draft capital which they are already short on. I expect Memphis to just eat Dieng’s salary as this is will be the final year of his deal.
Are there other potential trade candidates on their roster?
Some other potential trade candidates on the roster could be Jonas Valančiūnas, Kyle Anderson, or Tyus Jones. I am not saying any of these players may be traded but they all could potentially be used to acquire some draft picks for the 2020 draft. I don’t think it makes any sense to move Valančiūnas unless they were getting back something big. As for Anderson and Jones I think they have more staying with the Grizzlies, but I wouldn’t pass up a late 1st round pick for either, but I don’t think they will fetch anything that alone.
How to the Grizzlies improve their 3-point shooting?
The Grizzlies do have some needs to address and one of them is 3-point shooting. I think the Grizzlies should and will explore some of the cheaper options in free agency to fill this need. Some potential targets could be Courtney Lee, Meyers Leonard, Tony Snell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, among multiple other options.
Will De’Anthony Melton and Josh Jackson return?
Both Melton and Jackson will be free agents this offseason and it should be interesting to see if the Grizzlies bring back both. I fully expect Melton to return especially since he is a restricted free agent. As for Jackson the waters are a bit more murky. Jackson only played a limited among of games with Memphis but played well enough to peak some interest of a return. Jackson’s value shouldn’t be too high so if the price is right, I would expect them to try and resign him.