The Memphis Grizzlies have been undermanned all year long. This began with injuries to the second-best player on the team, Jaren Jackson Jr., and key contributor, Justise Winslow. The losses were big and Memphis was fully prepared to play the season with a few gaping holes in their roster.
Then, just four games into the season, Ja Morant caused the entire Grizzlies fanbase to hold their breath for a few seconds in a game against the Nets. After going up for a block, he came down awkwardly and immediately hopped on one leg toward the locker room. It looked bad and this was the worst possible way to end 2020. Thankfully, this ended up being an ankle sprain that would only sideline Morant for a couple of weeks.
These were the big injuries, but smaller day-to-day ailments have plagued this team the entire year as well. Almost every player on the roster has missed some time this year, with 14 individual players on the roster seeing at least a few days on the injury report. Most of these were extremely minor, but the team hasn’t been able to get into a groove all year because of this.
Injuries on the roster have accelerated the development of the younger players on this team.
On the brighter side of things, this allowed for some reserve players to get playing time that they may not have received otherwise. We’ve been introduced to a few new guys who really stepped up when they were needed. From rookies to role players who stepped into a bigger position, there is no shortage of surprising players this year.
We’ve seen both draft picks explode onto the scene. Desmond Bane and Xavier Tillman have both done exactly what was asked of them and more this year. Kyle Anderson has stepped into an advanced role on both ends of the court. Even veteran Jonas Valanciunas has had arguably the best season of his career.
But, unfortunately, I have to narrow it down to three surprising players. Here are the three most surprising players so far in the 2020-2021 season.