2023-24 NBA Season Preview: Memphis Grizzlies

Published October 18, 2023, 7:00 AMPolo Bustamante

With Ja Morant out for a huge chunk of the season, how will things pan out for the Grizzlies?

The NBA Season is back! Just like your favorite superhero story, the NBA brings fun, entertainment, and a lot of uncanny subplots to unpack. That’s why NBA.com Philippines decided to preview the new season comic-book style. We pick out fantastic characters that will take the stage and new amazing arcs to watch out for. Bang! Pow! Boom! Let’s go!

What’s their superpower?

The Memphis Grizzlies have built a reputation as a nasty defensive squad. They’ve been a top 10 defensive team for three straight seasons. Last season, they were the second-best defensive team in the league, giving up only 111.2 points per 100 possessions (2nd) on 45.3 percent shooting (1st).

Their defense is different from the past Grit-and-Grind iteration of the team. This is a high-flying squad that makes highlights on both ends of the floor. Led by last season’s Defensive Player of the Year, Jaren Jackson Jr., the Grizzlies are second-best at blocking shots and getting steals.

Even without Ja Morant for the first 25 games, Memphis is still in great shape. They can always fall back on the defense-first mindset to carry them to wins until Morant can join the team.

What’s their kryptonite?

As good as they are on defense, the Grizzlies have shown that they can be mediocre on offense at times. This was glaring in the playoffs when they struggled to put the ball into the hoop, averaging only 104 points per 100 possessions (14th out of 16).

Memphis needs its creators to take on an even more active role so that their finishers can hit shots. That’s evidenced by the fact that 83 percent of their outside shots and 50 percent of the 2-pointers were assisted on in the playoffs.

Without Morant, and with last season’s backup Tyus Jones on a new team, the onus will fall on veteran guards Marcus Smart and Derrick Rose to help the team manufacture points. Smart and Rose can bring the veteran savvy but they’ll definitely miss Morant’s explosiveness in the first 25 games of the season.

Who is their biggest hero?

It’s going to be a great redemption story if Morant can come back from his 25-game suspension as a more mature player on and off the court. He’s shown that he can be a leader on the court. His passion and aggression are what drove the Grizzlies higher and higher each season he’s been with the team.

Imagine if he can resume his 27-8-6 form from last season for the final 57 games of the season after his suspension and Memphis makes a run at one of the top seeds in the West? He might not be eligible for any of the awards, but he definitely will be the Comeback Player of the Year in the eyes of many, which will only help repair his broken reputation. 


Who is their biggest villain?

…he learns nothing and gets caught red-handed on social media once again. That results in another suspension, possibly one that ends his season. The Grizzlies plummet out of the playoffs without him and Morant is seen as nothing more than a thug that will only destroy the team he’s on.

It’s up to Morant to decide which storyline he follows heading into next season.

How does their story (season) play out?

It’s tough to peg Memphis keeping in step with the best teams out in the West, especially with how other teams have retooled their rosters or kept their core intact.

Besides the suspension of Morant looming on the team, they also lost Dillon Brooks in free agency. As much as Brooks was clowned because of his antics, he was a pivotal player on the team who could defend all forward positions and could slide into the team’s small ball rotation as a power forward. The team’s other forwards will have big shoes to fill heading into next season.

The Grizzlies will stay in the hunt for the playoffs, but a regression is in order and they could possibly fall into the middle of the pack out in the loaded West.