The preseason has come and gone and one thing is abundantly clear: Ja Morant is the real deal. We didn’t get to see him in Summer League (rightfully cautious) so we haven’t seen him at an NBA level of competition, if you can even count Summer League as “NBA level.
Because of that, there were still a lot of questions surrounding his game and how quickly he would be able to transition to the pace of NBA play. Well, I think that’s not worth even asking anymore. He’s ready. He’s been ready. He proved during the preseason that his game will 100% translate and I think there is no way he fails. Sure, he will have rough patches and will probably play out of control at times but he has such a natural feel for the game that he his shining moments will make you forget about any bad plays.
Another thing we learned is that this team still does have it’s problems even if there is a magnitude of things to be excited about. Rebounding is still an issue (granted, Valenciunas didn’t play in preseason), Jaren’s foul rate is still atrocious, and we have not only young inexperienced players, but a rookie head coach too. It will be a learning process on both ends and I think fans need to temper their expectations to match that reality. We will lose games that a more experienced team and coaching staff would win. We will have bad losses where it won’t even be close. It’s just going to happen. The main thing is that you hope from the beginning of the season to the end that you see continual progress on all fronts.
Lastly, we bid farewell to Ivan Rabb. He had an uphill battle all summer heading into training camp. He never progress like expected and still played down to the talent around him in the Summer League. As a third year player in Summer League, he needed to be dominant and he just wasn’t. I’ve been burned enough to know that being good in Summer League doesn’t necessarily mean anything but (I think) being bad in Summer League is a whole other story. We had a roster crunch and ultimately, he didn’t do enough to stick around. As the longest tenured Grizzly heading into preseason, it’s just one more reminder that the team is completely different from top to bottom and Dillion Brooks (selected 10 picks after Rabb) is now the longest tenured player. I hope Rabb is able to land a spot on another NBA team because he genuinely seems like a really nice kid, it just wasn’t a fit anymore in Memphis.
Oh, I guess RIP to whichever Plumlee we had too.