The Memphis Grizzlies seem to be in an enviable spot. They are a team with a talented young core that already has a bit of playoff experience, as well as a budding superstar in Ja Morant.
With a roster age average of just 23 years, it is clear that the Grizzlies are absolutely bursting with future potential. However, as a team that won 56 games last year and on track to win a comparable number of games this year – they’re also really good right now. And as a team that seems to have much of the ingredients needed to be contenders for years to come, there are a couple of potential approaches for the Grizzlies to take.
Wait it out
Ja Morant is under contract through the 2027-2028 season, Jaren Jackson through 2025-26, and Desmond Bane through 2023-24. Theoretically, as a team that is currently just under the cap, the Grizzlies can be patient, develop their guys and grow into a dynastic force organically – à la San Antonio or Golden State.
This is typically a perfectly valid strategy, but not one that is without risk. Perhaps the biggest issue with attempting to grow a talented young squad together is the possibility of falling in love with the potential. Just because a team is young and deep, does not necessarily mean they are championship contenders. Some players don’t quite fit well together in spite of talent or even on court chemistry. So while waiting it out with a talented young team can certainly be a legitimate strategy, the front office has to be ready to tweak the roster as necessary.
Try to win now
By no means does making a move to win now mean entirely blowing up their squad to bring in another star/superstar. A move like that could pay off to be sure, but hardly worth the risk for a team as young and deep as the Grizzlies. However, they can certainly strike a balance.
Veteran leadership is an often overlooked and undervalued part of a genuine championship contender. While the young squad will inevitably learn and grow together, there is something to be said to having a few older veterans that can expedite that process, particularly if they are still good enough to meaningfully contribute on the court.
This could take the form of sacrificing some of their raw, young talent with more upside, for some battle-tested veterans.
As previously stated, they are a young team. This is not always a positive, but in this case it certainly is. Ja Morant is a consistent force with frightening potential, and seems to have the makings of a great on floor general. More importantly, the Grizzlies have six players averaging at least 10ppg, and four players over 15ppg.
It is this balanced offensive weaponry that allows them to excel with or without their best player. Desmond Bane is an excellent knock down shooter, Morant is as elite a slasher as their is in the league, and they possess one of the stingiest defenses in the Association.
Desmond Bane is largely an outlier on this squad as a knockdown shooter. The Grizzlies comprise of largely just adequate or middling shooters from beyond the arc. Potentially, their coach Taylor Jenkins can be seen as a liability as well, not that he lacks coaching chops. His time in Atlanta and Milwaukee as an assistant likely served him well, but the Grizzlies coaching gig is his first. With a young team, a veteran coach is preferable. Making a deep playoff run with a talented young squad will not mean much if he is out-coached by a wily veteran.
All told, the future is certainly bright in Memphis, even if they do not pan out to be a championship squad they are already in an enviable position. It would take almost intentional incompetence to derail their future.