The Memphis Grizzlies are in serious trouble after losing seven of their first eight games to begin the 2023-24 season. Ja Morant is suspended for the first 25 contests and is not walking through the door until late December. Memphis can switch things up, but reinforcements are not coming.
The Grizzlies must play better. They have the worst offensive rating in the NBA and have already lost to three teams projected to finish in the lottery. Memphis is turning the ball over too much, committing too many fouls, and not making shots. The Western Conference is loaded, and the Grizzlies need to right the ship immediately if they plan on returning to the playoffs.
Who is struggling through the first two-plus weeks of action? These five Grizzlies must improve their play if the franchise has any chance of reaching the postseason.
5. Marcus Smart
The Grizzlies gave up two first-round draft picks and Tyus Jones to get Marcus Smart in a three-team trade this summer. Memphis had survived Morant’s absences over the two years with Jones stepping up. Smart needs to take on more ball-handling and playmaking responsibilities, but things are not going as planned.
His scoring, field goal percentage, and steals are up from last season, but his assists and 3-point shooting are down. To make matters worse, his turnovers have skyrocketed in Grind City. Smart is outside the top 50 in touches per game, yet ranks seventh with 3.9 turnovers each night. The Grizzlies have a slim margin for error with Ja out, and Smart’s giveaways are making matters worse.
Memphis has a negative-11.4 net rating with Marcus Smart on the floor through eight games and a 100.9 offensive rating. Both numbers must improve or the Grizzlies will be in the lottery. They need the veteran guard to play stout defense, cut down his turnovers, and create a few more plays. If not, the trade becomes a bust and Memphis likely misses the playoffs.