Grizzlies forward tabbed as 'key to watch' during final stretch of season

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves
Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

At 21-41, rather than contend for a third-straight playoff berth, the Memphis Grizzlies are likely to be honing in on two key things during these final two months of action: bettering their odds of landing a top-flight lottery pick and player development.

Lucky for them, these two tasks tend to go hand-in-hand.

Thus far into the season, there have been several success stories when it comes to witnessing the growth of young talents, with two of the most noteworthy examples being Vince Williams Jr. and GG Jackson, both of whom managed to play their way into multi-year pacts with the ball club.

Now, during these next 20 or so games, Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal believes there's one other player, in specific, who could prove his worth as being another long-term rotational fixture, as he noted on a recent episode of Locked on Grizzlies that trade deadline acquisition and impending free agent Lamar Stevens is "the key to watch" over this final stretch run.

Lamar Stevens could prove to be a long-term contributor for Grizzlies

"The way he's played, he's played better than Ziaire Williams. Let's just be honest. Now, we haven't seen him play a similar position as Ziaire Williams, whereas Lamar Stevens is playing more four [or] five with the Grizzlies. That probably wouldn't be the case if he's kept around. He'd probably be more three and four. I think if he continues to show throughout the rest of the season, that makes Ziaire expendable."

Damichael Cole

A sound two-way contributor, since landing with the Grizzlies ahead of this year's trade deadline Stevens has found himself posting impressive per-game averages of 11.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks on 51.7 percent shooting from the floor and 45.5 percent shooting from deep all while often playing out of position down at the pivot.

Someone who exemplifies "Grit and Grind" style of play, during these last games of the season, Cole seems to believe that the 26-year-old has a real chance of proving himself to be a player that Zach Kleiman and company should look to hold onto as he heads toward the open waters of free agency.

Frankly, adding someone of his caliber to what is hoped to be a title-contending squad come next season should be viewed as a desirable scenario for the franchise.