Grizzlies season issued daunting 4-word descriptor

Jan 15, 2024; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (22), forward Brandon
Jan 15, 2024; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (22), forward Brandon / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the 2023-24 campaign, even with the initial 25-game suspension of Ja Morant, the Memphis Grizzlies were viewed by many as a legitimate threat to contend for the Larry O'Brien Trophy by year's end.

Over the previous two seasons, not only had Taylor Jenkins' squad claimed consecutive Southwest Division titles but had also developed a legitimate rivalry with some of the game's recent champions in the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers.

Fast forward 56 games into this year, however, and we find that this once promising Grizzlies team seems more primed for a top-eight lottery pick than finish within the Western Conference standings, as they sport a lowly record of just 20-36 and register in as the league's sixth-worst team from a net rating perspective.

In the eyes of Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus, Memphis' season through this point in time can truly only be categorized with four simple words: "Good to Bad Overnight."

Memphis Grizzlies described as having gone 'Good to Bad Overnight'

"The Grizzlies were good enough last year to give the Lakers a playoff challenge, but seemingly overnight, the franchise has gone from "inexpensive darling" to bloated disaster.

After the postseason run, Ja Morant was suspended for 25 games for posing with a gun on Instagram Live, and then he helped the team win enough games to fall out of the top of the lottery before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the season.

Amid rule changes punishing high-spending franchises (Memphis has consistently avoided luxury taxes, let alone apron penalties), the team gave a significant extension to Desmond Bane.

Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke were also sidelined with injury, and then Adams was traded, in part, to cut costs for 2024-25. Now, the Grizzlies may be able to keep Luke Kennard (team option for $14.8 million) and hope a healthy Morant will lead to a different result next season.

Memphis may look instead to shed payroll."

Eric Pincus

Of course, despite the surface-level disappointment that comes with enduring a season such as this, in many ways the Grizzlies have managed to come across many positive turnouts, with perhaps their biggest accomplishment being the emergence of youngsters Vince Williams Jr. and GG Jackson, two former two-way talents who, with their play, has earned long-term, standard deals with the team.

Viewed more as a "gap year" rather than a lost one, assuming guys like Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Marcus Smart are all back to full strength come the start of next season and that Zach Kleiman finds a replacement option for the recently departed Steven Adams down at the pivot, 2024-25 could easily see the Grizzlies placed back into the legitimate championship contender conversation.