Memphis Grizzlies: 3 reasons why the Grizzlies can shake up the west

Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Memphis Grizzlies
Ziaire Williams, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Reason No. 3: The Memphis Grizzlies’ defense will be the biggest unspoken improvement

One of the most under-the-radar improvements for Memphis — scratch that — one of the most under-the-radar improvements in the entire NBA is the Grizzlies defense. When Memphis traded away Jonas Valanciunas, they lost a lot of offensive production. What they got in return was improved defense under Steven Adams.

Adams is a force down low. While Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr. got bullied around by guys like Rudy Gobert, Adams is arguably the strongest player in the league. There isn’t a single guy in the league who will out-tough him.

But Adams isn’t the only defensive improvement.

The Grizz also traded up to draft Ziaire Williams, who will help the Grizzlies play stronger perimeter defense. There aren’t any reliable statistics that emphasize just how bad Memphis was at defending the three-ball last year, but those who watched every game know exactly what I’m referring to.

If Memphis was coming up against a team that could shoot it from deep, a bloodbath was virtually guaranteed.

If Kris Dunn doesn’t get traded, his presence could go a long way too. Even though he’s virtually useless on offense, his defensive efficiency is undeniable. He may not help the Grizzlies himself all that much, but he’ll be able to help Ja Morant develop defensively.

Oh, and I almost forgot — Jaren Jackson Jr. will be back. Sure, he was back for the tail end of the 2020-21 season, but he wasn’t himself on defense and never got into a groove on offense. The addition of JJJ defensively will go a long way from a Grizzlies team that already produces a handful of blocks and steals.

NBA GMs think Grizzlies are primed for breakout season. dark. Next

Coming off of a year with a top ten defense, it’s hard to see a world where the Grizzlies aren’t among the best defensive units in the country.