The Grizzlies are a statistically sound team. . . so what’s going wrong?

Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

If you begin to dig into the Memphis Grizzlies‘ statistics on the 2021-22 season thus far, you won’t find many that explain their disappointing 10-10 record. In fact, in most generic categories, this Grizzlies team is near the top of the league. Here are a few examples.

Memphis ranks in the top five of the entire league in steals, blocks, assists, and rebounds. That’s really good. Memphis does rank sixth in the league in scoring but ranks dead last in points against. Record-wise, they sit at .500 on the year, which has them at the 9th seed in the Western Conference.

This makes it extremely difficult to point the finger at any particular facet of the game when trying to figure out why this Grizzlies team has not taken a step forward.

So what exactly is going wrong with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2021?

Granted, this is an extremely odd time to write this article. Ja Morant will be out for at least “a couple of weeks,” while Memphis is coming off of arguably their most dominant win of the season without him.

Still, there are undeniable issues for this young basketball team.

But just as the surface-level stats favor the Grizzlies, there are some undesirable numbers that do not work in this team’s favor. As an example, the Grizzlies allow the highest three-point shooting percentage for opposing teams in the entire league at nearly 40% (39.6%). This was an issue last season and while Memphis actually plays respectable defense at times, this is an area where they always struggle.

And thus my argument is created.

The Grizzlies’ primary struggles come in the facets of the game where the team refuses to improve. While this team will always be among the best shot-blocking, rebounding, and stealing teams in the league, they play atrocious defense everywhere else.

Just look at fastbreak defense, where Memphis ranks 25th in the NBA. Last year, this same Grizzlies team finished the year ranking 24th in that same category. The bad stays the same and the good stays the same.

The question here shouldn’t be in regards to why the team isn’t improving. Instead, the question should be something along the lines of “why would the team improve if no changes are being made?”

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Taylor Jenkins has to do something to help his team evolve. As things stand, this is the same squad as last year with no clear track to succeed.