Ex-Grizzlies player tabbed as ‘breakout’ candidate for 2023-24

Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)
Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /

Even though the Memphis Grizzlies finished as the second seed in the Western Conference standings for the second consecutive season in 2022-23, their first-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Lakers suggested that rotational alterations and improvements were necessary for them to legitimately be considered a true title contender.

Fast forward nearly four months later, and one will find that GM Zach Kleiman and company have executed several rotational adjustments that appear to have made this already sound squad even stronger.

While there were numerous moves made by the front office this offseason, easily the biggest one was the acquisition of defensive savant, Marcus Smart, who was plucked from the Boston Celtics via a multi-team blockbuster.

Praised by fans and media pundits alike, the transaction ensures that Taylor Jenkins and company have a highly seasoned and reliable replacement option for Ja Morant at the starting one position while he serves out his early season 25-game suspension.

Of course, in their efforts to add Smart to their roster, the Grizzlies were forced to part ways with fan-favorite backup guard Tyus Jones in the exchange, as he was shipped out to the third-party Washington Wizards.

Former Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones could ‘breakout’ with Wizards

Last year proved to be a career-best campaign for the Duke standout, as he served as a stellar substitute for Morant during his league-issued and personal hiatuses, and, on the season as a whole, posted impressive averages of 10.2 points, 5.2 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game on 37.1 percent shooting from the field.

However, it was his production when slotted into Memphis’ first five lineup that truly stood out, and is a major reason why Gibson Lowenberg of Wiz of Awes believes Jones could be on the brink of a true breakout campaign, as it is believed that he will be serving as the lead floor general now as a member of the Wizards.

"“Last season, in 22 games as a starter Jones averaged 16.4 points, 8.1 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 50% from the field, 41.5% from three-point range, and 77.8% from the free throw line. While his stats dipped for the rest of the season, he was also on the bench behind one of the best point guards in the league. He also put up those numbers for over a quarter of the season, which isn’t a small sample size,” Lowenberg wrote.“On top of his impressive base stats, he also limited himself to an incredible 1.5 turnovers per game. A player averaging over 16 points and 8 assists to limit their turnovers that much is an amazing feat.“It is very possible that he keeps up that level of production with the Washington Wizards as not only is he entering a similar situation on offense with a high-scoring shooting guard, a three-point shooting threat at the three, a talented shooting power forward, and a lob threat center, but he is also not going to fall off on defense just because he’s on a different team.”"


Along with examples of past play as a member of the Grizzlies, the piece would continue with its argument on Jones by predicting that “he will likely be relied on to put up shots slightly more often” considering Washington doesn’t currently seem to roster any true offensive leaders like Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr., thus allowing him more opportunities to shine.

As a result, Lowenberg is of the belief that “there’s a good shot he puts up career highs across the board” during the upcoming 2023-24 campaign.