Grading the Memphis Grizzlies’ 2021 NBA offseason
The Memphis Grizzlies are coming off a season in which they made the NBA playoffs.
Despite a tough road, the Grizzlies won two straight play-in games to make the playoffs as an 8 seed. They didn’t do much once they got there, losing to the Utah Jazz in five games. However, it was still a big step in the right direction, having missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons beforehand.
Budding star Ja Morant is the leader of the team, and he has exceeded expectations. He came in and won Rookie of the Year in the 2019-20 season and then led his team to the playoffs in the 2020-21 season. The Grizzlies were super active in the trade market, flipping many players around the league.
The biggest trade sent Jonas Valanciunas along with the 17th and 51st pick in the draft for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, the 10th pick, the 40th pick, and a 2022 first-round pick. They later flipped Bledsoe into Rajon Rondo, Patrick Beverley, and Daniel Oturu. Rondo was later bought out while Beverley was sent to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jarrett Culver and Juancho Hernangomez.
Other key offseason moves included their two selections in the NBA draft. The Grizzlies had two first-round picks, which they used to select Ziaire Williams and Santi Aldama. These seem to be good draft picks, as they should pair nicely with Morant.
The Grizzlies made an abundance of moves, but it left them with solid role players. While the roster is constructed differently, they are bound to make another playoff push with Morant. Morant has a chance to take another leap and become an All-Star next season.
Grizzlies Offseason grade: B-
Although the Grizzlies were active in the offseason, some of their moves set them back. Trading away Valanciunas for Adams was questionable, but they were able to get the 10th pick. That 10th pick was used to select Ziaire Williams, who will be a key piece for the future.
Some of the Grizzlies’ moves may have set them back for this season, but it has set them up for a better future. The key for the Grizzlies is still building a team around their rising star Morant.
In Morant’s breakout season, he averaged 19.1 points per game along with 7.4 assists. He is primed to approve upon his sophomore campaign this season. Having talented young players around him this season should help Morant and the Grizzlies establish a core.
The rookies are bound to make an impact on the team this season, as well as the future. Williams showed his ability to create his own shot during his time at Stanford. In his season at Stanford, Williams averaged 10.7 points per game along with 4.6 rebounds. The knock on Williams’ season was his inefficient shooting clip at 37.4 percent. While the shooting percentage draws concerns, his talent and potential are worth the risk. The Grizzlies’ coaching staff should focus on improving his efficiency as it could make him a dynamic player.
Their other draft pick was Santi Aldama, who was taken with the 30th pick. Aldama had a phenomenal campaign at Loyola as he averaged 21.2 points per game along with 10.1 rebounds. He also shot 36.8 percent from behind the arc, which is great for a center. Aldama could be the steal of the draft and fill the Valanciunas role.
The Grizzlies may have downgraded the roster for this season, but it has set them up for the future. The young nucleus around Morant should grow, and they could be an elite team in the years to come.