Fast forward three weeks into the campaign, however, and we find that the club is fairing far below these aforementioned expectations, as they got off to the league’s worst start to a season since the 2018-19 Cleveland Cavaliers.
While many factors have played a role in their lowly 1-6 record, easily the most notable has been the absence of superstar Ja Morant, who is serving out a 25-game, league-issued suspension for conduct detrimental to the association.
During his hiatus, fans and his own Grizzlies cohorts are all hoping the guard will take the time to sharpen his decision-making skills and, in turn, come back to the hardwood as a more mature individual.
Though a popular belief amongst the franchise’s faithful followers is that Morant slander has simply been played out, recently ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith piled on a few more disparaging comments regarding the 24-year-old’s current predicament, going as far as to say he should feel “ashamed” for his team’s lackluster start to the season.
Stephen A. Smith puts Grizzlies star Ja Morant on notice amid 1-6 start to season
"“If Ja Morant was on the floor we wouldn’t be thinking about them like this, we wouldn’t be looking at an 0-6 Memphis Grizzlies team,” Smith said. “Is he off the court because he’s injured? No. Is he off the court because of some kind of family emergency or some kind of tragedy that took place? No. He’s off the court because he wasn’t thinking about his teammates when he was on the court.”"
Smith would continue his rant by calling out a popular stance taken by fans and even some media pundits since his second fire-arm wielding video surfaced, where they’ve suggested the league’s punishment could be perceived as a bit extreme considering Morant technically didn’t do anything illegal.
The polarizing sports personality made sure to tell these people to “shut the hell up.”
"“See, y’all out there encouraging people to do what you want to do when you want to do it, how you want to do it while you got your hand out for somebody else’s money,” Smith said."
Smith joins Locked on Grizzlies host Joe Mullinax in personally blaming Morant for the lackluster start to the season for the Grizzlies, which, as a result, only adds more pressure to the point guard once he makes his highly anticipated return in mid-December.