The opening week of the 2019-20 NBA season saw the young Memphis Grizzlies make a 1-2 start full of ups and downs, not unexpected for a rebuilding group.
The Memphis Grizzlies are off to a 1-2 start this season. The Grizz were outscored by 8.7 points per game over their first three outings, though they capped the week with a thrilling overtime victory against the Brooklyn Nets.
Recent months have laid the groundwork for a new future in Memphis: franchise cornerstones Marc Gasol and Mike Conley left town in trades after the previous departures of Zach Randolph and Tony Allen. As is the case for any rebuild in the modern NBA, veterans go out and draft picks come in.
The future in Memphis will be based on the core of young players currently with the team, plus the coming years’ draft picks. We will not know for at least 18 months who the Grizzlies will be in the future, but who are the Grizzlies now?
Right now, Memphis is a nascent core with no shell. No. 2 overall draft pick Ja Morant turned heads during his first week in the Association and the Grizzlies’ future hopes hinge in no small part on Morant becoming a star lead guard.
Last year’s lottery pick, Jaren Jackson Jr., steps into his sophomore season primed to become the defensive anchor and offensive counterweight of a Grizzlies rebirth — a latter-day Marc Gasol, if you will.
Rookie big man Brandon Clarke enters the season on the heels of strong showings in Summer League and the preseason, leading many in Memphis and around the league to speculate on a possible frontcourt pairing with Jackson.
Flanking these three neophytes are two other young holdovers — Kyle Anderson and Dillon Brooks. Memphis’ only major free agent signing this summer was guard Tyus Jones, who should certainly play a part in the immediate future of the Grizz.
The team also re-signed Jonas Valanciunas, though it is quite possible that he becomes a trade chip before the Grizzlies become competitive again. The same goes for veteran Jae Crowder and reclamation project Josh Jackson. As is no doubt clear, uncertainty is a major theme in Memphis. What can we know in the midst of the uncertainty? Opening week gave us some hints.