The Memphis Grizzlies are still trying to find a formula that works while they await the return of centerpiece Ja Morant after he serves out the entirety of his 25-game suspension.
Though consistent experimentation with their lineups has mostly created more questions than answers for Taylor Jenkins' squad, it's rather apparent that one thing is for certain: Ziaire Williams needs to be taken out of the starting lineup for good.
With his wildly ineffective productivity serving as the team's primary wing coupled with their mere 1-7 record while the 22-year-old fills such a role, the Grizzlies have already opted to try out a new rotational scheme with him playing as a low-usage reserve.
While some may make the case that this demotion was influenced primarily by a recent hip injury and, in turn, could only be temporary while he recovers, Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley has stated that this particular shakeup should "be permanent."
Memphis Grizzlies urged to make benching of Ziaire Williams 'permanent'
"Williams, the No. 10 pick of the 2021 draft, has been about as ineffective as anyone, evidenced most clearly by the fact he has this season's fifth-worst plus/minus (minus-91). Nothing from his stat sheet is easy on the eyes, whether it's his 37.7 field-goal percentage, 28.9 three-point percentage, negative assist-to-turnover ratio (1.2 to 1.7) or his career-worst minus-1.0 defensive box plus/minus.- Zach Buckley on Ziaire Williams
Memphis may not want to quit on his theoretical upside, as this roster would become infinitely more formidable if the 6'8", 215-pound swingman suddenly became a two-way difference-maker. But when the leap obviously (still) isn't happening, you wonder how much longer the Grizzlies can keep the faith—assuming they haven't abandoned it already."
The Grizzlies may have only nabbed one win since they elected to shuttle Williams to the bench in favor of slotting Jacob Gilyard into the first five lineup, but it's already become evident that this team has improved in numerous areas of the game, particularly on the offensive end of the floor where they went from dead-last in offensive rating (104.2) to 17 (113.3).
As far as Williams' individual stats are concerned, on top of what Buckley noted he also finds himself boasting career-lows in defensive rating (115), offensive rating (87), and box plus-minus (-7.8).
Coming into the season, it was already being argued that perhaps Memphis may have held onto their former lottery pick for a bit too long and, in turn, 2023-24 may be the year where they should consider giving up on his development.
Buckley appears to fully agree with this sentiment.