Memphis Grizzlies will have to prove doubters wrong, again
When the 2019-20 NBA season began, most of the intrigue surrounding rookies and potential dark horse teams in the Western Conference revolved around Zion Williamson (even though e was injured at the time) and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Perhaps rightfully so.
In the process, however, both Ja Morant and his Memphis Grizzlies were almost pushed aside as a player and team that could take the Western Conference by storm this season. Up until the hiatus, Morant was the leader to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award and the Grizzlies were sitting in the top 8 in the West.
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Even though the Pelicans were beginning to come towards the end, it was Morant and the Grizzlies that were actually producing. As the NBA inches closer to its restart, many are expected Zion and the Pelicans to overtake the Grizzlies for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West.
Once again, Morant and the Grizzlies are sitting in a not-so-foreign place. They’re being overlooked and disregarded. Again, that probably has more to do with the Pelicans and the talent they have as a whole rather than the Grizzlies; still, it’ll be up to the Grizzlies to prove the masses wrong.
While leading the Grizzlies to a 32-33 record, Morant was averaging 18 points and seven assists per game on 49 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range. In the restart, though, he’ll need to take a bigger step in his game. The Grizzlies won’t be able to hold off the extremely talented Pelicans by simply playing at the level they were when the season fell into a hiatus.
After the all-star break, the Grizzlies were just 4-7. If they’re going to make the playoffs in the West, they’re going to need to be much better in the eight “seeding” games and perhaps in a playoff play-in tournament.
Comparably, the Pelicans were 5-4 post-all-star break.
Of all the team that will be competing for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West, the Sacramento Kings were actually playing the best when the season was paused. The Kings were 7-3 after the all-star break, leading up to the play stoppage.
The restart, if nothing else, will represent an opportunity for Morant and the Grizzlies. They’ll have another opportunity to prove to the rest of the league that they are a team of the future and that the first three-quarters of the NBA season wasn’t just a fluke.
Not many are giving the Grizzlies are shot at earning the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But they’ll get their chance to prove the doubters wrong. Just like they were doing before the hiatus.