NBA standings: Grizzlies have very favorable remaining schedule

Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins (left) and guard Ja Morant (12)-Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins (left) and guard Ja Morant (12)-Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

The rest of the Western Conference may have loaded up at the trade deadline, but the Grizzlies still have some advantages down the stretch of the season. Here is why their remaining schedule could help them stay near the top of the NBA standings.

The Grizzlies return to the court Thursday night after an eventful All-Star break. They are looking to hold on to their top-two spot in the Western Conference after a whirlwind of moves at the trade deadline. While the Suns, Mavericks, and Lakers all went all-in for making a run this season, the Grizzlies still have the upper hand during the regular season at least.

Their remaining strength of schedule is very favorable, right now sitting at 24th overall in terms of difficulty. Only the Lakers, Thunder, Pelicans, and Mavericks have easier schedules in the West. That doesn’t mean anything if they continue to play the way they were prior to the break, but can it keep them in their current spot?

Grizzlies still need strong end of the season to stay near the top of NBA standings

The Grizzlies’ schedule may be relatively easy, but it doesn’t guarantee them anything based on their recent performance. They are just 4-6 over their last 10 games, including multiple double-digit losses. A big reason for that has been the loss of Steven Adams thanks to a knee injury. He is a huge part of their defense and half-court offense, and his elite rebounding is being sorely missed right now. He should be back soon, but it won’t solve their top issue as a team: Shooting.

The only deadline move the Grizzlies made was specifically to help their poor shooting, adding sharpshooter Luke Kennard. It remains to be seen how much of an impact he will have, but the rest of the roster has yet to show they can hit more of their outside shots. Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks seem destined to be below-average three-point shooters. Jaren Jackson Jr is streaky at best from beyond the arc. Desmond Bane is their best volume shooter from deep, but he has taken fewer attempts since returning from his injury despite still hitting them at a high rate. The league is getting increasingly outside-centric, and the Grizzlies need to follow suit to some degree.

Memphis isn’t going to become an above-average shooting team suddenly, but getting closer to average is a must. If they go into the playoffs as they are now, it won’t matter if they can hang on to their place in the NBA standings. The regular season still matters, but only if they can finish healthy and in a good rhythm offensively. Their strength of schedule could be a blessing, but it could easily become a curse.