The Memphis Grizzlies are struggling mightily during these early stages of the 2023-24 season, as they boast a putrid 0-5 record through just about a week and a half of action, making them the last winless ball club remaining in the NBA.
Now, along with simply trying to pull themselves out of this grueling rut for the sake of the regular season, Friday adds extra weight into the equation as they will be participating in game one of the league’s inaugural In-Season Tournament with a road tilt against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Though coming into the season they were tabbed as a legitimate championship contender as well as a serious threat during the aforementioned debut competition, with how things have gone thus far into the campaign many have lowered their expectations quite extensively for the Grizzlies.
In fact, the folks at Bleacher Report have gone as far as to predict Memphis’ demise before the festivities have even kicked off.
Grizzlies predicted to crumble during upcoming In-Season Tournament
"“Steven Adams’ season-ending knee injury and Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension mean the Grizzlies will play their tournament games without two pillars of their offense. They won’t be able to compete with the Lakers and Suns if they can’t score, even if their Jaren Jackson Jr.-led defense figures to be potent,” wrote staff writer Grant Hughes."
Now, there are certainly specific cases where a team’s record doesn’t always seem to accurately describe how good or bad they may be. Unfortunately, this is not one of those cases when it comes to the winless Grizzlies.
Despite rostering the two most recent Defensive Player of the Year award recipients in Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marcus Smart, the team has been rather inefficient on the less glamorous side of the ball, as they’re letting up the sixth-most points per game on average (118.0), allowing the second-best three-point shooting clip to opponents (43.4 percent), and rank a lowly 22 in defensive rating (113.7).
Sadly, even with how bad their defensive production has been, their play on the offensive side of the ball has proven to be even worse, as they are putting up the eighth-fewest points per game (106.6), are converting at the second-worst rate on field goal attempts (42.1 percent), and sport the worst offensive rating (102.5).
Looking at this team it’s evident that many things need to be addressed and altered should they wish to overcome these early-season struggles and find a way to stay afloat until superstar Ja Morant makes his return to action in mid-December.
Unfortunately, B/R’s Hughes doesn’t expect things to change all that much, if at all, during the upcoming In-Season Tournament.