The Memphis Grizzlies were always expected to struggle a bit during these initial stages of the 2023-24 campaign as a result of the absences of many key members, but things have seemingly gone even worse than preseason worst-case scenario projections were.
The ball club kicked off the festivities with the NBA’s worst start since the 2018-19 season, and, as of Sunday evening, have registered just one win on the year, bringing their lackluster record to a whopping 1-6, the lowest mark in the standings.
At this point, the primary goal for the Grizzlies is simply to try and stay afloat in the playoff hunt until franchise centerpiece Ja Morant returns from his 25-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league.
While it may be an uphill battle to do so what with their current situation, considering they have one of the easiest schedules this season coupled with the fact that they roster a slew of talented ballers in the likes of Jaren Jackson Jr., Marcus Smart, and potential first-time All-Star Desmond Bane, such an outcome is far from an impossibility.
Of course, should they be in the mix once Morant makes his way back to the hardwood this would only raise the level of pressure resting upon his shoulders, as Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale already believes the point guard is one of a select few players across the association who has “the most to prove.”
Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant tabbed as player ‘with the most to prove’
"“To be sure, Morant is not beyond redemption. Inferring as much is inflammatory nonsense. But to suggest he doesn’t have anything to prove after all that’s happened would also be misguided. On the contrary, there is even more he must prove than initially thought,” Favale wrote.“The Grizzlies are in free fall without the 24-year-old. Injuries to Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke and, more recently, Santi Aldama, Luke Kennard and Derrick Rose have complicated matters beyond measure. But Morant is the team’s lone superstar, and there were hints last season that Memphis wasn’t as built to survive without him as previous years implied.Morant’s absence looms largest, and his eventual return looms larger than that: The best and only hope the Grizzlies have of salvaging a season rapidly spiraling out of control and relevance.”"
Since being drafted second overall back in the 2019 draft, Morant has quickly ascended to become one of the game’s premier players.
With his astounding combination of innate athleticism and tremendous career per-game averages of 22.4 points, 7.4 assists, and 4.8 rebounds on 47.2 percent shooting the point guard has garnered substantial accolades throughout his five-year professional tenure, with highlights including Rookie of the Year, the Most Improved Player award, two All-Star nods, and an All-NBA selection.
Unfortunately, his on-court heroics and successes have taken a back seat in the tabloids as of late due to his questionable decision-making which, outside of injuries, has resulted in him missing a combined 16 games over the team’s last 27 regular season contests.
These particular transgressions have negatively impacted Morant in a multitude of ways, ranging from lost endorsement deals to severely damaged star status.
Now, as he awaits his mid-December comeback, fans, media pundits, and the Grizzlies organization as a whole are hoping to see a rejuvenated and hungry player who can help raise their stock back into the legitimate title contender category.
The pressure is on for the 24-year-old.