The arrival of Marcus Smart means that one of the guards in the Memphis Grizzlies' starting rotation. But, it may not come too early because Ja Morant will be out because of his suspension. It will either be Desmond Bane, Luke Kennard or, if Taylor Jenkins opts to go small, John Konchar.
Taylor Jenkins just cannot choose to bench one of the best all-around defenders in the NBA. Marcus Smart is just a season removed from winning a Defensive Player of the Year with the Boston Celtics. His starting role might just be an absolute lock before the season starts. After all, his 11.5 points on 41.5% field goal percentage is likely to take a leap once Ja Morant is out. The playmaking chops that netted him a career-high average of 6.3 assists will also skyrocket because the Grizzlies are in dire need of a facilitator. It is just too much of a risk to not start Smart.
So, who goes off the bench for the Grizzlies once Ja Morant returns?
John Konchar is likely to be the one who gets relegated. The versatile small forward who sometimes plays as a shooting guard started for 23 games in the previous NBA season. His ceiling as a scorer has still not been proven. The most offensive output that he achieved was 19 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Averages of 5.1 points and 1.4 assists are not as lethal offensively as what Smart is able to offer on the table.
There is also so much to be desired when looking at his efficiency. He only attempted 4.4 field goals throughout the season which means that volume scoring really is not his thing. Despite having a few attempts, his shot selection can be quite questionable at times. He had a career-low field goal percentage of 43.1% on average.
The minutes given to him are a bit too much when contrasted with his production on the floor. He played a career-high 20.8 minutes per game. The usual expectation would be for him to get more points and assists as a forward or guard. The level of production just is not there yet for number 46.
Why it's good for Konchar's development with the Grizzlies?
Steven Adams' recovery and, a-fresh-from-the-FIBA-World-Cup Jaren Jackson Jr. will lessen his strengths in the starting unit. Konchar's bread and butter is his rebounding and screen-setting. He grabbed an average of 4.3 rebounds throughout the whole NBA season. Jackson and Adams will be able to handle those duties fairly well. The bench may need an elite rebounder which could be where he comes in.
One major improvement that John Konchar has made that will skyrocket off the bench is his on-ball defense. He is good at pickpocketing the ball and anticipating bad passes to convert them into steals. He got 1.1 steals per game because of this in the previous season. Sharing the court with Marcus Smart may not be a good idea for his development. He gets assigned less to the primary ball handler on defense. This means that these numbers are likely going to dip if he shares the floor with another great on-ball defender.
It's a good thing that the Grizzlies will have Konchar off the bench. He has proven to be one of the most dependable players when it comes to availability. Playing 72 games last season was a huge testament to this. Will Taylor Jenkins relegate him to the bench?