Sat. May 18th, 2024

Can the Grizzlies get back to the playoffs? | Previewing, predicting the Memphis Grizzlies’ 2023-2024 season

On opening night for the Grizzlies’ 2023-2024 NBA season, the ABC24 sports team gives its thoughts on the team’s chances in the Western Conference.

 ABC24 Staff (ABC)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The start of arguably the most anticipated season in Memphis Grizzlies history begins Wednesday, and the ABC24 sports team are giving their thoughts on the chances the Grizzlies have to go back to the playoffs, and, potentially, bring home Memphis’ first NBA championship.

Before the 2023-2024 NBA season begins, several questions linger around the Grizzlies. Will veteran additions Marcus Smart and Derrick Rose be able to guide the team and play at a high level? How will the Grizzlies address their extremely thin front court without Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke? Will the Grizzlies be able to remain one of the best teams in the league without their superstar Ja Morant for the first 25 games? Here’s our thoughts.

Avery Braxton

First and foremost, the Grizzlies are not the same team without Steven Adams. The veteran center’s presence was missed tremendously down the stretch last season, and the L.A. Lakers completely had their way with the Grizzlies front court in the first round of the playoffs without him.

In order for the Grizzlies to stay afloat, they need to figure out who will fill his shoes as the top rebounding presence on the team. Santi Aldama seemed primed to be that person, until a fluke injury at practice sidelined him for opening day, and could have him miss multiple games.

With Jaren Jackson Jr. seemingly their only other front court threat, the team could have to look for external options if they continue to get bullied up front.

Also, Marcus Smart and Derrick Rose need to have big seasons, not only as leaders but as ballers, for the Grizzlies to make any kind of noise.

Rose said after practice Tuesday he feels like this Grizzlies team is the best he’s ever been on, but he’s also not here to babysit them. He and Smart, with years each of high-level playoff experience, will have to prove leaders on the court, as well as off.

Finally, it’s crucial the Grizzlies have a great start, and position themselves well in their first 25 games when Ja Morant gets back. If they can remain in the conversation by then, they’ll find themselves in a good spot the rest of the year.

Record prediction: 45-37, 4th seed in the NBA Western Conference Playoffs

Caleb Hilliard

I agree the front court situation needs to be addressed, but remember the Grizzlies were still a good team without Steven Adams, going 20-16 after his injury.

They can make the playoffs again without him, but two key guys who need to step up and have great seasons are Santi Aldama and Zaire Williams. Both are set to have a huge boost in playing time due to injuries, and will be instrumental to the team’s success.

I have the Grizzlies just above .500 after their first 25 games, which will be a good spot to be in once Ja Morant comes back. He’ll have to come back ready to play and leave his past distractions behind if the Grizzlies are to really be considered among the NBA’s elite.

Marcus Smart and Derrick Rose need to be the leaders of the team. Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. stepped into leadership roles last year and performed well, but the veterans need to set the precedent so the young talent can ball out.

I think another important piece of the season starts right on opening night. With the New Orleans Pelicans relevant again, the Grizzlies need to win every game against their division rival. Playoff seeding might depend on it.

Record prediction: 47-35, 4th seed in the NBA Western Conference Playoffs

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