Sunday, the Memphis Grizzlies broke the unfortunate news that starting center Steven Adams will be sidelined for the entire 2023-24 season as he undergoes “surgery on his right posterior cruciate ligament.”
The team had to endure such a grueling loss during the final 36 games of the regular season last year as well as for the entirety of the playoffs while he took part in a non-operative rehabilitation routine to try and resolve his knee ailment.
Though outside whispers suggested Adams could be lining up to make his triumphant return for the start of this year, the big man often seemed coy about his health status when discussing his injury in public during the offseason.
As noted by the Grizzlies PR team, the aforementioned course of action “did not resolve ongoing knee instability” for the veteran and, thus, has him slated to extend his ongoing stretch of game absences for at least 82 more.
The Grizzlies have struggled without Steven Adams in the lineup
The difference between having and not having Adams in the rotation last season was as stark as night and day.
In his place, head coach Taylor Jenkins opted to thrust, then, third-year power forward Xavier Tillman into the starting five, though, during his first seven games in this new situation, the club went a putrid 2-5 and, with the alteration, it became quite apparent that his 6-foot-7 frame couldn’t make up for the loss of their intimidating 6-foot-11 brute.
During his 42 total games played with the Grizzlies in 2022-23, Adams posted solid averages of 8.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 blocks while shooting 59.7 percent from the field.
On top of this, the team as a whole ranked third in win percentage (.674), first in offensive rebounding (13.4), first in total rebounding (49.4), first in defensive rating (109.2), and second in net rating (5.4) during this stretch.
Sadly, these ranks only went on to plummet once he was shelved for the remainder of the campaign in late January, as they then dropped to 13 (.556), 13 (10.3), 15 (43.1), ninth (112.6), and 13 (2.2) in each category, respectively.
As was the case last season, Adams’ presence down low will be sorely missed by the Grizzlies during their once-perceived title-hopeful run this year, both from a physical and advanced-metric standpoint.
Hopefully, Jenkins and GM Zach Kleiman can work together to find some sort of sound replacement option for their beloved big.