If Grizzlies forward 'can't play the three, he can't play in Memphis': Analyst

Mar 18, 2024; Sacramento, California, USA; Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins  reacts to a
Mar 18, 2024; Sacramento, California, USA; Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins reacts to a / Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Despite it being a campaign filled with injury woes and off-court happenings leading to on-court hardships, 2023-24 has still seen some positives attached to it for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Easily the biggest upbeat takeaway from the season has been the emergence of several young and promising contributors, all of whom have risen from varying beginnings.

From recent second-round selections such as Vince Williams Jr. and GG Jackson to undrafted two-way signings like Scotty Pippen Jr., there have been a handful of players who have worked their way up from being fringe NBA talents to legitimately in the conversation for long-term rotational commodities for this Grizzlies team.

Unfortunately, however, not all of these diamonds in the rough are locks to make their way back to the 38103 next season due to a multitude of reasons and, according to Locked on Grizzlies host Joe Mullinax, one of BSB's favorite talents from this aforementioned category, Lamar Stevens, may be an individual on his way out should he not find a way to transition into becoming a dependable small forward.

Grizzlies analyst says Lamar Stevens must learn to play small forward

"I know folks like Lamar Stevens. Lamar Stevens hasn't shown much since he came back from injury. Damichel [Cole] and I have talks about wanting to see him play the three. Is he a small ball four? Is he a guy that in switchable defending groups, can he be a five? If he can't play the three he can't play in Memphis and right now it doesn't look great for him in that spot."

Joe Mullinax

Contrary to Mullinax's comments on being underwhelmed by Stevens' production since making his way back into the rotation on March 25 following a six-game absence due to a nagging abductor ailment, the forward has actually played quite well in his limited action, even kicking his return off with a 19-point performance against the Denver Nuggets.

While there is some merit to the analyst's comments, especially when looking at his less-than-desired shooting splits of 42.4 percent from the field and 10.0 percent from deep, his production pre-injury suggests that this may just be a rust-filled effect after being shelved for nearly two full weeks.

Before his abductor issues, from the time he was acquired via the Xavier Tillman deal with the Boston Celtics, Stevens quickly became a fan favorite and a consistent contributor within coach Taylor Jenkins' rotation thanks to his sound two-way abilities.

Over a 12 game span, the 26-year-old was posting 11.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and just shy of a block while shooting 47.8 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from deep.

On top of this, though he's predominantly played the four and, on occasion, even the five, Stevens possesses the athleticism, shooting touch, and ball-handling abilities that are necessary for a modern-day small forward.

Hopefully over these remaining games, he can prove this to the coaching staff, otherwise Mullinax fears the fourth-year pro's tenure with the Grizzlies could soon be coming to an end.