Memphis Grizzlies: Who have been the most surprising players in 2021?

Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports /

I’d like to say that the Memphis Grizzlies‘ 2021 season has been full of surprises, but quite honestly, that would be a lie. Minus a couple of injuries, this Grizz team has been almost exactly the team that most anticipated.

Despite a recent injury, Ja Morant is the scoring leader and looks like every bit of an NBA All-Star. Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. are all fighting over the honor of being Morant’s wingman. Memphis is hovering around .500 for the beginning of the season. Do any of those statements surprise you?

That said, there are a certain amount of surprising elements to this team to look at throughout the 2021-22 season thus far.

Who have been the most surprising Memphis Grizzlies players in 2021?

Desmond Bane: This list starts and ends with Desmond Bane, who will not win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award but should absolutely be considered. Bane’s 6.4 point per game jump has had a huge impact on a Grizzlies team that is making up for lost scoring with Jonas Valanciunas being traded away in the offseason.

The only reason why Bane might be the least surprising player listed is that he was balling out in this year’s Summer League. The Grizzlies got a big steal in the 2020 NBA Draft with Bane at the 30th pick — hopefully, he continues to progress.

Jaren Jackson Jr.: Again, Jaren Jackson Jr. hasn’t really surprised with anything that he’s done on the court this year. Everybody knows that the Grizzlies’ unicorn is a three-point-shooting, shot-blocking machine. That said, it’s what JJJ hasn’t done this season that makes his year so surprising. Allow me to explain.

In his first three seasons in the league, JJJ’s fouls were a huge issue. This season, the Grizzly forward is averaging a career-low in fouls while averaging a career-high in blocks. In a category where players don’t generally improve throughout their career, Jackson is finding a way to stay disciplined.

Brandon Clarke: For some reason, Taylor Jenkins isn’t playing Brandon Clarke more at the five spot. Even on the fewest minutes of his career, Clarke has had a huge impact when he’s given an expanded role.

When Clarke has been heavily involved in the offense, he has put on a clinic. In the month of November, Clarke has played more than 15 minutes seven times. In five of those games, the Canadian forward has knocked down at least 72% of his shots on a high shooting volume. Clarke has been stellar this year, we’re just waiting for head coach Taylor Jenkins to notice.

Next. What Grizz have to do to survive Morant's injury. dark