The Memphis Grizzlies are a team coming into the 2023-24 season with rather high expectations, with oddsmakers already penciling the club in as having the eighth-best odds of taking home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Of course, despite their current status as a top-10 contender, Taylor Jenkins’ squad still finds itself with a few glaring weaknesses, particularly at their wing position.
Following the departure of Dillon Brooks this offseason, the Grizzlies have found themselves searching for a successor at the starting small forward slot. Unfortunately to this point, there still seems to be no clear indication as to what the coaching staff plans to do about it.
However, in a recent piece by Bleacher Report, writer Andy Bailey suggested the notion that if fourth-year big man Xavier Tillman once again gets buried in the rotation behind the likes of Steven Adams and Jaren Jackson Jr., GM Zach Kleiman and company should consider shopping him for a possible upgrade at the three spot.
B/R urges Grizzlies to consider shopping Xavier Tillman for wing upgrade
"“Xavier Tillman Sr. has had above-average marks in Dunks and Threes’ estimated plus-minus (one of the most trusted catch-all metrics in NBA front offices) in two of his three seasons. He can play, but he’s spent his career in a rotation with Steven Adams, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke.The Memphis Grizzlies may need him more in 2023-24 as Clarke recovers from a torn Achilles. But if there’s still a minutes squeeze that leaves Tillman as the odd man out, the Grizzlies may want to move him for a wing before he hits restricted free agency,” Bailey wrote."
Last season, Tillman stepped up in a major way for the Grizzlies following Steven Adams’ season-ending PCL injury, as he took on the role of primary center for the better part of the last three months of the year, as well as throughout the playoffs.
During this 34-game regular-season stretch, the former second-rounder went on to post impressive averages of 9.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and just over half a block on 62.6 percent shooting from the field.
Despite this sound productivity, however, when the rotation is at full strength Tillman is undoubtedly the “odd man out,” as Bailey put it, as he falls behind three other clear superior talents in Jackson Jr., Adam, and Brandon Clarke.
Because of this, be it prior to regular season’s tip-off or closer to when the rehabilitating Clarke returns from his ACL injury, it seems as though the 24-year-old is being labeled as a shoppable commodity who could net Memphis more depth at another position with less depth such as at the wing.
The only questions that matter when it comes to this hypothetical are would the Grizzlies even consider parting ways with their high-hustle big man and who could they possibly attain for his services?