Grizzlies are surging, but one stat should concern fans

Memphis Grizzlies Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

The Memphis Grizzlies are now dangerously close to first place in the Western Conference thanks to their current five-game winning streak. While their season has been excellent overall, their performance in one metric could be cause for concern.

The Grizzlies’ record currently stands at 25-13, one of the best in basketball. When looking deeper at the standings, however, they are an outlier in one category: conference record. The Grizzlies are just 11-10 against Western Conference opponents. That equates to a winning percentage of 52.8%, the worst among all current playoff teams.

It’s also concerning that they are just 4-6 against the rest of the current playoff field in the West. That can be partly blamed on Jaren Jackson Jr and Desmond Bane missing time with injuries, but it’s still a concern for a team with championship aspirations. If the Grizzlies want to take the next step as a franchise, they need to be able to dominate their conference. So far this year, they certainly have not.

How can Grizzlies improve against the West?

Before fans get too concerned about their relative lack of success against their fellow Western Conference members, it is fair to see how a fully-healthy Grizzlies team looks in those games. Desmond Bane is still not 100% after recently returning from his toe injury. Jaren Jackson Jr is looking like the best version of himself after his delayed start to the season. If both of them can get/remain healthy, their record against the West should improve.

Another concern that needs to be addressed is their free throw shooting. They are currently last in the NBA, converting just 71.5% of their attempts. Giving away so many easy points is a killer, especially in close games. If they could just manage to be an average free-throw shooting team, it could turn a few close losses into close wins.

Overall, the Grizzlies have plenty of time to improve against their conference. In a Western Conference so closely packed together in the standings, however, the margin for error is very small. If they are unable to at least keep pace with the other top teams, they could see their place in the standings begin to fall.