Latest projection sees Grizzlies overcoming serious odds in 2022-23

Oct 2, 2023; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Marcus Smart (36) during media day at FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2023; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Marcus Smart (36) during media day at FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Memphis Grizzlies will find themselves coming into the 2023-24 season with a major rotational disadvantage, as superstar point guard Ja Morant will be held out for the first 25 games of the year as a result of yet another league-induced suspension.

Still, despite this hardship, many see the club as a legitimate threat in the Western Conference, with some such as ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne going as far as to label them a true championship contender.

Of course, before the Grizzlies can focus their attention toward action in late April through June, they must get through their upcoming six-month, 82-game slate first.

Obviously, not having their centerpiece in Morant to start the year is less than ideal, but fans and media pundits alike still seem to have hope that Taylor Jenkins and company can finish the campaign off strong.

Just recently Kevin Pelton of ESPN penned a piece that provides “stats-based win projections” for every team in the league, and, though he has the Grizzlies wrapping the year off with fewer wins than they did in 2022-23 (projected 48.5 average wins, three less than their 51-win turnout last season), interestingly enough they are predicted to finally break beyond the second-seed (their finish over the last two seasons) and claim the top spot out west.

Latest projection sees Grizzlies finishing 2023-24 season with top seed out west

"“All the attention on Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension to start the season seems to have overshadowed the track record of the Grizzlies, who are the only team in the West to win 50-plus games each of the past two seasons,” Pelton wrote. “Memphis no longer has Jones to back up Morant, but it tended to win without its star primarily on the strength of its defense and adding Marcus Smart should help it maintain that. The Grizzlies are deep, younger than most of their West rivals, and still likely to rack up regular-season wins.”"

Already several days into training camp, the buzz that has surfaced of late has seemingly been nothing but positive, with studs such as Desmond Bane already noting that “the tone for the season” has been set for the Grizzlies since day one of practice.

Though there are some who believe the team’s various absences (specifically Morant and Brandon Clarke) could prove to be too challenging of an obstacle to completely overcome, with ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins going as far as to predict Memphis will wind up being a Play-In Tournament participant, Pelton seems rather confident in this squad defying the odds.

Apparently, he’s got the statistics to back his lofty prediction up and, as he noted early on in his piece, he “beat the market by correctly predicting 60% of team over/under win totals” last year.