3 reasons the Memphis Grizzlies are legitimate NBA contenders

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The Memphis Grizzlies have taken it to the next level this season. At 29-14, they are the fourth seed in the Western Conference, pulling out all cylinders and improving as the season progresses.

Once a simple, promising rebuild with compelling players, this is a team of Grizzlies with all the tools to embark on a thorough playoff race. Damn, they can only get better. On Tuesday night, they scored an impressive victory over the Golden State Warriors. This team is on a cruise.

Here are three reasons the Grizzlies are legitimate NBA contenders.

Memphis Grizzlies Have One Star In Ja Morant

Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to get into a deep playoff race, let alone win an NBA championship, you need a star player. The Grizzlies have that in Morant, and you could even say they have one of the top three pointers in the game.

During his rookie year, Morant was a talented player who showed star potential. Over the next season, he took more command, helping the Grizzlies achieve a record-winning record and a playoff berth. This season he has become an elite player.

Morant is as explosive as they come on offense. His raw speed and quickness allow him to easily pass defenders in the dribble and sky over the rim. He gets isolated buckets, is adept at finding teammates in the half-court, and hits the boards at a high level for a guard. Morant also became a more efficient shooter.

  • Ja Morant statistics (2021-22): 24.9 points, 6.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game shooting 48.9 / 37.9 / 76.7

He gets buckets in the critical time and sets the stage for head coach Taylor Jenkins’ rotation. Morant is a third-year player who has already become a leading scorer and general on the ground.

There are few, if any, players the Grizzlies would theoretically trade Morant against.

The Memphis Grizzlies have enormous depth

Morant is the face of this franchise, but he’s not the only player who is integral to their operation – the Grizzlies have great depth of roster with a considerable number of players.

Desmond Bane is the steal of the 2020 NBA Draft. Selected with the final pick in the first round, he’s become a vital source of attack and someone the defenses need to watch out for. Bane is a tenacious two-way street player who is an efficient shooter and mind-blowing scorer. Jaren Jackson Jr. is an athletic frontline player who blocks shots at a high level, can be a crafty inside finisher, and occasionally stretches the floor.

Kyle Anderson is a knowledgeable and versatile player who can handle rock and defend well. Steven Adams is a solid center in painting at both ends of the floor. De’Anthony Melton is instantly attacking off the bench. Brandon Clarke is a constant presence on the frontcourt. Tyus Jones is a compound ball handler. Rookie Ziaire Williams is a spirited forward with the potential to be a reliable NBA player both ways.

  • Statistics of Desmond Bane (2021-22): 17.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game shooting 46.7 / 42.7 / 87.7

All the while, Dillon Brooks has been sidelined with an ankle injury. In good health, he was the team’s second scorer. Brooks is a physical guard who can shoot the dribble and complete the cup to a high level.

Everywhere you look, there are points, shots, defense and well-balanced play with an advantage in the Grizzlies rotation. There are few to no gaping weaknesses in this team.

Related: Sportsnaut’s NBA Playoff Predictions – Support Pick & 2022 Finals Champion

Memphis Grizzlies Continually Improved Under Taylor Jenkins

This roster and the coaching staff have flourished together. With each year since Jenkins took over, this team has grown into a more notorious force in a traditionally ruthless Western Conference.

After a year that saw them trade both Marc Gasol (NBA trade deadline) and Mike Conley (offseason), the Grizzlies have become a rebuilding team but quickly made significant progress. In the first year, they were the eighth seed in the West before the 2019-20 NBA season suspension. Last season, they made their way to the playoffs thanks to the NBA Play-in Tournament. This season they are a force to be reckoned with and have more room for growth.

Morant is a stallion. Bane and Brooks are plausible wing markers. Jackson, Anderson, Clarke, Williams and Xavier Tillman ensure a respectable rotation in the first zone. Melton and Jones can start in a pinch. Adams is a proven center.

Now, the Grizzlies beating a team like the Warriors or the Suns in a seven-game series will be a daunting task, especially since that core has yet to win a real playoff clash. On the other hand, they play as well as any team in the sport and don’t play like a young and inexperienced group: they play like a team that will compete throughout the spring.

The Memphis Grizzlies are real.

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