The Memphis Grizzlies have one of the most impressive young cores across the NBA. The franchise has collected a great amount of talented young players and has already shown capable of going toe-to-toe with the league’s best. Despite being the second-youngest team in the NBA entering last season with an average age of 24 years old, the Grizzlies flipped the switch into win-now mode earlier than expected. They finished with the second-best record in the NBA at 56-26 before being knocked out by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals.
While last year was a wild success, the Grizzlies still have their sights set on bigger goals. Most of the growth within the team will simply come from the young core continuing to develop. However, the journey to keep improving can never stop. The franchise did most of their work on draft day where they continued to collect young talent. Their draft class was highlighted by Jake Laravia, David Roddy, Kennedy Chandler, and Vince Williams. While the franchise is clearly moving in the right direction, the Grizzlies may have made one mistake they could come to regret this offseason.
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Grizzlies: Memphis’ worst move of 2022 NBA offseason
Perhaps the most notable move this offseason was the Grizzlies trading De’Anthony Melton. The franchise flipped Melton on draft day for Danny Green and the 23rd overall pick. They used this draft pick to select Colorado State standout, David Roddy. While Roddy is an exciting prospect and will be a fan favorite, Memphis is already loaded with young talent.
It is unsurprising that the Grizzlies explored the market for De’Anthony Melton. The springy guard fell out of the playoff rotation in his fourth NBA season with the Grizzlies last year. The growth of Ziaire Williams and his clear potential has earned him a place in the Grizzlies’ long-term plans. This moved Melton toward the expandable list of players on the team. It is still unclear if Memphis will elect to hold onto Danny Green but he is the type of win-now veteran the team could use. While he likely does not have a ton left in the tank and is currently recovering from an ACL tear, Green will provide valuable leadership to the team. The franchise is in need of this type of veteran presence as they attempt to compete for a title and would be wise to hold onto Green.
However, there should have been more consideration to how valuable the contract of De’Anthony Melton is. The 24-year-old has two years remaining on his deal at roughly $16 million in total. This is incredible value for a capable rotational piece. As the Grizzlies’ young core continues to mature they will be forced to make some tough financial decisions. Ja Morant inked his max extension and Jaren Jackson Jr has already agreed to a long-term deal. Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke, and Steven Adams will all hit the free agent market this offseason. The Grizzlies also hold team options for Ziarie Williams, Desmond Bane, Santi Aldama, and Xavier Tillman this offseason. This also indicates their time to test the free agent market is looming.
Having rotational pieces on cost-controlled contracts is a major benefit. This type of financial planning is necessary for the team moving forward. While it is always intriguing to add more rookies, the future core of the Grizzlies is fairly established. With the key pieces of a contending team seemingly established, it was surprising to see Memphis walk away with four rookies in the draft as well as Kenneth Lofton Jr as an undrafted free agent.
Is it nitpicking to call the Melton trade the worst move? Absolutely. The Grizzlies are in a very good spot as a franchise and there is plenty to be excited about moving forward. The youthful squad has a ton of depth and losing to the Warriors in the postseason is far from a disappointing result. Expectations are sky-high heading into next season and for good reason.
One potential move to keep an eye on moving forward is the Grizzlies flipping some of their young talents for win-now veterans. It is justifiable to give them a true chance before making this decision, but finding the missing pieces could increase their playoff chances greatly. While many want the roster to be complete heading into the season, there are still avenues to improve during the year. Expect the Grizzlies to stay the course and continue to improve off last year. The franchise is an exciting balance of up-and-coming and ready-to-compete and will be a blast to watch this season.