Memphis Grizzlies are shaking off slow start, led by Ja Morant

The Memphis Grizzlies are red-hot after shaking off a slow start

Even though the Memphis Grizzlies were quite a disappointment during the NBA’s restart bubble, failing to qualify for the playoffs despite sitting in the 8th seed for much of the 2019-20 regular season, many still believed that this team was up-and-coming in the Western Conference.

And to start the 2020-21 NBA season, the Grizzlies got off to a rough start. Through the first eight games of the season, the Grizzlies were just 2-6. In fairness, Ja Morant only appeared in three of those games before suffering an ankle injury.

Now that he’s back, however, the Grizzlies are beginning to shake off that slow start and are looking more and more like that team we saw in the regular season last year. The Grizzlies are arguably the hottest team in the Western Conference and have won five games in a row.

Memphis is now 7-6 (over .500 for the first time this season) and Morant is playing his way back from injury. With somewhat of a soft schedule over the next couple of weeks, there’s no sense that the Grizzlies are going to take a step back in the standings. Instead, they’ll likely continue to climb them.

Through the first eight games, in which the Grizzlies were 2-6, Memphis had the third-worst offense and a middle-of-the-pack defense while having a bottom-5 net rating.

During their five-game winning streak, the Grizzlies were much better statistically. While their offense isn’t running many teams out the door, they are improved and ranked 18th, but it’s their defense that has been the difference-maker for the Grizzlies. In their last five games, Memphis has the fourth-best defense in the league and the sixth-best net rating overall.

It’s clear that, in part, the return of Morant has helped the Grizzlies get back on track. And perhaps we see that most late in games. Morant has proven that he can be an effective closer for Memphis and has done so time and time again through his young career.

After a start to forget, the Memphis Grizzlies are playing high-quality basketball and are quietly rounding themselves back into a playoff team in the Western Conference.