The excitement is building for the Memphis Grizzlies as they anxiously await the 2019 NBA Draft. There is plenty of reason for hope in Memphis.
The excitement is building for the Memphis Grizzlies! You heard me right. We, the Grizzlies fan base, are excited about the upcoming 2019-20 NBA season amid this week’s NBA Draft. Grizzlies fans and management theoretically should be the last ones to be excited about the upcoming season. After all, the overall record of 33 wins and 49 losses is nothing to be excited about although finishing in the twelfth spot in the super tough Western Conference might not be as bad. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
In spite of the up and down season Memphis had, they ended the second half of the season on a very promising note. The very last game was against the NBA’s 2018-2019 runner-up in the Golden State Warriors. That victory alone should give Grizzlies fans a lot to be excited about. Memphis came out, competed, and won! So what if Golden State was resting a few of their star players? The Grizzlies still won and a win is a win!
Tyler Dorsey, Bruno Caboclo, Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, Avery Bradley, C.J. Miles and Justin Holiday brought a little bit of everything to a Grizzlies team that needed a whole lot. This group seemed to energize another group of Grizzlies players who were bench riders at one point. Joakim Noah was his normal energetic self, but players like Ivan Rabb, Jevon Carter, and Yuta Watanabe all seem to develop a chemistry along with starter Mike Conley which allowed them to knock off some of the top teams in the league.
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From the fans who sat on the floor to those who sat near the top of FedEx Forum, there was excitement even when the Grizzlies lost. I was there and felt the fire in the stadium! Memphis could not wait to see who was going to show up next. The scoring was not coming from one player, but everyone contributed at one time or another to lead the Grizzlies in scoring. It was Bradly one night, Conley the next, then Valanciunas, maybe Caboclo or Dorsey after that. Who cares as long as the Grizzlies were winning and competitive, even in the games that they lost?!
The fact that on any given night any one of the five on the floor was able to lead the Grizzlies in scoring made the game just that much more exciting. Who could forget Carter’s big night against Golden State in which he scored 32 points? Or, who could forget Valanciunas giving (pre-injured) DeMarcus Cousins a fit down in the paint? Then there was the time when Kevin Durant dunked on Bruno only to have Bruno take offense to it and return the favor less than a minute afterwards. Bruno had another shining moment when Durant hit a short jumper in his face, once again only to have Bruno go down the floor on the next procession to hit a three-pointer right in the face of one of the toughest defenders in the league.
The fact that this group of players excited a once dismal crowd at FedEx Forum makes looking forward to the 2019-2020 season even more exciting. Want to know why Grizz Nation is excited? It is because they played above the expectations of management and the home crowd and they did it all with some of their best players sitting on the bench. Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, and Kyle Anderson all missed a large portion of action due to injuries. Plus, Chandler Parsons was finally showing signs that he can still be a scoring threat when healthy and given enough time on the floor.
To add to the excitement is that wonderful, wonderful night of May 14th, 2019 when the ping pong balls surprisingly gave the Grizzlies the No. 2 overall pick for the upcoming NBA Draft. The Grizzlies were prepared to have the eighth pick and suddenly they found themselves having the coveted No. 2 pick. What more could a team in need of a basketball savior ask for?
With long-time veteran Conley sharing the sentiment that he does not want to be a part of a rebuild, Memphis now needs a capable replacement at the point guard position. With the New Orleans Pelicans owning the No. 1 overall pick, it is almost a forgone conclusion that they will take Duke’s Zion Williamson. That is okay with the Grizzlies because next in line and is Ja Morant, who is also widely considered to be a great player.
Morant refers to himself as a “point god.” Guess what? The Grizzlies are in need of a point guard. The Grizzlies’ management has made it known to the entire world that they plan to take Morant with the second pick on June 20th, 2019 if he is still available when they arrive on the clock.
Excited is an understatement for a team and fan base that has endured a series of letdowns the past couple of seasons. Given the high level at which the team played during the second half of the season (without most of their starters) and the fact that Memphis can now choose between two great players in Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett (assuming Williamson is off the board with the first pick), to add to a group of players determined to make their mark in the NBA gives us more reasons to look forward to next season.
There are still a lot of questions about who will return to the Grizzlies. Fans are definitely hoping something can be worked out with Valanciunas and several other players who brought Memphis so much hope and so much excitement. Only time will tell who stays and who goes, so the excitement is building for the Grizzlies as they prepare for the June 20th NBA Draft and beyond!