$76 million guard tabbed as potential 'missing link' for Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers
Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers / Amanda Loman/GettyImages

Recently, the Memphis Grizzlies saw their superstar centerpiece Ja Morant make his triumphant return to action following a 25-game league-issued hiatus and, as a result, newfound hope has seemingly been instilled within the ball club.

Though they undoubtedly have a long and challenging journey ahead of them on their quest to get back to a place of relevancy, the fact of the matter is this 7-19 squad has yet to roll out a fully intact rotation due to suspensions and injuries alike.

No one fully knows how competitive and successful this 2023-24 Grizzlies team can actually be when they have all their pieces available, though Joe Mullinax of Locked on Grizzlies is outwardly excited to see what they can do and, during a recent episode of the show, noted that the x-factor for this Morant-led unit could be their $76 million offseason acquisition, Marcus Smart.

Marcus Smart viewed as potential 'missing link' for Memphis Grizzlies

"You don't know who these Grizzlies are, I don't know who these Grizzlies are. We barely have an idea of who Marcus Smart is because he's missed basically half the season to this point. Smart could be the missing link to helping this Grizzlies team when as close to full strength as they're going to be... Marcus Smart as a secondary or tertiary creator of offense is a heck of a lot better than as a primary creator of offense as a point guard... My argument for Marcus Smart being so valuable eventually once Ja was back was he was going to make better decisions than Dillon Brooks did when Dillon was in Memphis as a scorer, as a shooter, not gonna chuck. I am excited for Marcus Smart"

Joe Mullinax on Marcus Smart

As Mullinax pointed out in the segment, Smart is the first player this current Grizzlies front office has shelled out first-round draft capital for, thus suggesting that not only are fans banking on the veteran to serve as this team's "missing link" but so is the franchise.

Unfortunately, his tenure thus far hasn't gone as well as many had hoped coming into the year, as he's played just 11 games due to a nagging ankle ailment and was posting rather inefficient averages of 13.4 points, 5.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.1 steals heading into their November 14 bout against the Los Angeles Lakers where he initially sustained his injury.

However, as Mullinax said, we have yet to see the guard serve in his more natural role of third or fourth option and as a primary defensive anchor while running alongside Morant, which could significantly help boost his productivity and, in turn, make him well worth having given up a rather lucrative package headlined by Tyus Jones to acquire him this offseason.

Fortunately, we may soon bear witness to this type of game plan as Smart is rumored to be on the verge of returning to the hardwood as early as this week.