Are the Memphis Grizzlies the worst team in the league without Ja Morant?

Memphis Grizzlies Marcus Smart (Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports)
Memphis Grizzlies Marcus Smart (Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Memphis Grizzlies may be the worst team in the NBA. 

Heading into the start of the season, the biggest goal for the Memphis Grizzlies early on revolved around “surviving” or “staying afloat” in the Western Conference standings until the return of Ja Morant, who is suspended for the first 25 games of the season.

Through the first five games of the season, it’s not outlandish to suggest that the Grizzlies have failed on that front. Memphis is the only team in the NBA that remains winless through the first week and change of the season, and there are no guarantees that things are going to turn around anytime soon.

The Grizzlies have been so bad that there is some evidence that suggests this is a team that may be among the worst in the NBA. Through five games, the Grizzlies have the worst offensive rating, a bottom 10 defensive rating, and a league-worst net rating. Aside from Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Marcus Smart, the Grizzlies haven’t gotten much from the rest of the supporting cast.

In addition to missing Morant, the Grizzlies have sorely missed Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke; and there’s a very real chance both of those players will be out the entire 2023-24 season. At this point, it’s not even outrageous to say that Memphis has also missed Dillon Brooks, even if it is just on the defensive end of the floor.

The big question revolves around whether or not the return of Morant is going to trigger any kind of significant change.

Can Ja Morant salvage the poor start to the season?

Morant is eligble to retun in late-December. However, with the start that the Grizzlies have had, you can’t help but wonder where this team will be in the standings by Christmas. Will they be 10 games under .500? Roughly one-third through the season, will they still be in shouting distance of a top 4 seed in the West?

And if they are, can Morant simply come in and save the day? Will that be enough for the struggling Grizzlies to get back on track?

History says that Morant can have that level of impact for the Grizzlies.

In each of the first four years of his career, Morant has been an MVP-level player for the Grizzlies. If he can quickly return to that form, and there isn’t much rust when he returns, perhaps Memphis can begin to dig out of their early-season hole.

The next few weeks will be increasingly important for the Grizzlies. For a team that took a bit of a step back last season, the last thing the Grizzlies need is to take another one this year.

Next. NBA Trade Rumors: 8 Logical deadline targets for Sixers after Harden deal. dark

That said, it’s looking more and more like the Grizzlies are headed in the wrong direction. While I don’t think the Grizzlies are the worst team in the league, they are surely playing like it right now.