Though the offseason seemed as if it lasted an entire century, the 2023 preseason has breezed right on by, as the Memphis Grizzlies have already taken part in four separate outings.
Now, after splitting said exhibitions with two wins and two losses, the club finds itself gearing up for Friday’s finale on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks where they hope to close things out with a win before officially setting their sights on the upcoming regular season.
As for some of the players found on Taylor Jenkins’ pre-trimmed roster, Friday’s preseason closer could prove to be a great time to showcase their specific attributes and contributions one last time in an effort to both strengthen trust from the coaching staff and carve out a desired role within the club’s main rotation.
Grizzlies that must show out in Friday’s preseason finale vs Bucks
Though it’s unclear at this point who will ultimately wind up seeing on-court action during their finale, heading into their bout against the Bucks there are a few specific Grizzlies players who should be gunning for an inspiring showing during the preseason’s conclusion.
3. Luke Kennard
Acquired at last year’s trade deadline, Luke Kennard quickly established himself as a true difference-maker for this Grizzlies squad.
After an expected adjustment period early on, over his final 22 games played with the team during the regular season the swingman provided top-notch productivity, dropping averages of 11.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists while shooting a stellar 53.4 percent from the field and 54.2 percent from deep.
His high-end shooting efficiency only managed to carry over into the playoffs where he would post 7.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists on 50.0 percent shooting from distance and was a +39 during his five games played.
Unfortunately, as he makes his way toward his first full season in Memphis, this same type of production has yet to show itself on the hardwood.
Through three preseason games played, the 27-year-old finds himself posting rather underwhelming averages of 5.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting an abysmal 27.8 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from distance despite often getting clean looks and ample attempts (4.0 long-range attempts per game).
This year, the sniper two guard is likely to see an uptick in offensive usage — at least early on — due to the impending 25-game suspension of Ja Morant. As a result of the superstar’s absence, Memphis will need all hands on deck to make up for his missing contributions, particularly on offense, and Kennard’s shooting prowess is almost certainly going to be leaned on heavily.
Entering the season on the right foot could prove to be a major boon for both him and the team as a whole, for the Grizzlies can’t afford to have a slow start coming out of the gates.