Now that the season has come to an end for the Memphis Grizzlies, it is time to write the obituary for the 2020-2021 season that was. Looking back on each team that made the playoffs will give a chance to look at what went right and what went wrong. It will also allow us to look ahead to what’s to come during the offseason to come.
The Memphis Grizzlies made it back to the playoffs and even took a game from the top-seeded Utah Jazz. Are they on the right path moving forward?
Like the Washington Wizards, the Grizzlies made it through two play-in games to return to the actual playoffs. Despite going against the team with the best record throughout the entire season, Memphis acquitted themselves well and has started taking the steps towards being a contender.
The Grizzlies dealt with plenty of injuries throughout the season. Jaren Jackson Jackson Jr. did not join the team until April 21 and played in just 11 regular-season games. Justise Winslow was also less than impactful, appearing in 26 games this season. Even still, the Grizzlies moved forward in their progression.
Ja Morant was amazing in the playoffs, highlighted by a 47-point outburst against the Utah Jazz on the road. He showed that while his 3-point shot still needs plenty of work he is able to take over games even on the biggest of stages.
Dillon Brooks may be inconsistent but when he is on he is a dominant two-way guard that any contender would into the fold. Jonas Valanciunas is one of the most underrated members of a playoff team and served as a force down low for a mostly young, perimeter-based team. Desmond Bane is likely to be named to the All-Rookie team as a deadeye shooter. The future is bright in Memphis, even if their season ended earlier than they would have liked.
What Comes Next
Unless there is a trade forthcoming, the team the Grizzlies put on the court this season is likely to be close to the same at the beginning of next year. The only actual free agents on the roster are Sean McDermott and Killian Tillie, this year’s two-way players. There is a team option to be considered on Winslow, but that is the only decision to be made.
Winslow is due $13 million next season should he be brought back and while there is not much to do in free agency for the Grizzlies, they should still consider moving on from him to attempt to add another impact player to the roster. For much of the season, the Grizzlies were relying on the whole being greater than the sum of their parts but adding consistency will be key. That may come from internal development from Bane and Jackson being more available. Some sort of return to form from Brandon Clarke would also be welcome.
Options are a nice change for the Grizzlies. They can start to build around Jackson and Morant in earnest or take their time and let internal development take its course. Waiting for one more offseason will see the team with plenty of space. If they can find another gem with the 17thpick in the draft (James Bouknight or Cameron Thomas perhaps?) then the process gets even cleaner.