3 Adjustments Grizzlies Must Make To Compete Without Ja Morant
After succumbing to the Utah Jazz in the NBA playoffs last season, expectations continued to increase for this young Memphis Grizzlies squad as Ja Morant has proven to be a tremendous leader for their roster. Their front office executed a few moves to bolster their lineup, while building up some pieces for their future. For this current season, Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton have been contributing on both sides of the court due to the departure of Grayson Allen and the early injuries to Dillon Brooks.
Morant has been amazing as his game has evolved with a reliable three-point shot and his brilliant IQ in maneuvering through pick and roll situations. As the Grizzlies are still in the midst of finding their groove, Morant sustained a non-contact knee sprain injury in their game against the Atlanta Hawks. As Morant is expected to miss several weeks, these are a few reasons on how they could still remain competitive.
Bane, Melton, Brooks trio
These three talented guards of Taylor Jenkins have proven to heat up and tally over 20 points in successive games over the course of their career. The consistency is the main obstacle for these three individuals, but Jenkins can pin his hopes on at least two of them scoring over 15 points every game for Memphis to remain competitive.
Bane and Brooks are sensational long range marksmen that could also contain some of the best guards and wings in the Western Conference. Bane experienced a rough patch of games recently, but this is his chance to rekindle his early success because Jenkins will task him to play both guard positions. Brooks has been in-and-out of the lineup because of lingering injuries, but he could have the opportunity to find his niche with the increased usage and shot attempts that he will receive.
Tyus Jones will likely start at the one, but Melton has the higher upside to produce because of his ability to wreak havoc defensively and also create offense for others. If Jenkins could utilize the effective lineup combinations, Memphis could still be in the hunt when Morant returns.
JJJ reaches All-Star status
When Jaren Jackson Jr. was selected fourth overall by the Grizzlies, their belief and trust on this man was immense because he is a prototypical big man in this era of NBA basketball. Even if there are still facets of his game that he needs to improve on, he possesses certain abilities that supersedes many of his counterparts in the association.
He has a spectacular outside shot as he even nailed a go-ahead long range bomb to defeat the Utah Jazz on their home floor. In Morant’s absence, he must raise his field goal percentage to around 45% because the team would rely on him to raise his point total in the next few weeks. He has been attempting almost the same number of shots compared to his early years, but his efficiency has been plummeting.
Jackson could also increase his decision-making on the short rolls in pick and roll situations. Several of the versatile bigs like Draymond Green and Bam Adebayo have flourished with the short roll schemes because it opens up a vast number of opportunities for the roller and his teammates on the corners and paint as well.
Grizzlies play small and quicken the pace
As the Grizzlies are not known for their half court offense, it will be even more difficult for them to set their plays without Morant. Their players thrive on creating turnovers and ramping up transition opportunities for their players to convert easy layups and threes on the other end.
Steven Adams could still garner over 20 minutes if they are playing bigs like Nikola Jokic or Deandre Ayton, but it is advisable for Jenkins to run a small-ball kind of lineup. For instance, the lineup of Jackson Jr. Jones Melton, Brandon Clarke, and Ziaire Williams have played a total of 20 minutes, but they are plus 37.3 per 100 possessions.
If Jenkins could enhance their defensive schemes and create a plethora of fast breaks every game, it would increase the confidence of his young core, and hopefully retain their rhythm when Morant is 100% healthy and ready to go on another magnificent playoff push.