Ranking the 10 championship-less NBA teams by closeness to title

Kevin Durant #35 celebrates with Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns, title (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Kevin Durant #35 celebrates with Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns, title (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis Grizzlies F Jaren Jackson Jr. and Memphis Grizzlies G Ja Morant (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /

211. . . . Memphis Grizzlies. 2. team

With some young stars in place, the Memphis Grizzlies have the talent to compete for titles now. This postseason run – and some unmissable parts of the regular season – were disappointing, but Memphis should be here to stay.

The Grizzlies showed they were ready for this year’s big time by finishing second in a loaded Western Conference. They then displayed that there was still a way to go when the Los Angeles Lakers knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs.

Everything revolves around superstar guard Ja Morant. While his play on the court is undeniable, controversy has followed him for much of the past year. He was suspended for a handful of games in the regular season and will now be suspended for 25 games to start next season. If he can’t pull it together, the Grizzlies’ ceiling topples.

All the scuttlebutt around Morant, however, has obscured some of the other talent on this team. Jaren Jackson Jr. is a star in his own right, particularly on the defensive end of the court. He averaged an absurd three blocks per game and won his first Defensive Player of the Year trophy last season.

Desmond Bane, meanwhile, will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in July. He’s another member of the young core Memphis should look to lock up. He’s a three-point ace who averaged 21.5 points per game last season.

Memphis is also bringing in Marcus Smart, who will be able to hold down the fort while Morant is suspended, and then some. Smart is a culture-setting type of player, the kind of veteran that could help elevate a team from his presence alone. He’s the closest thing the Grizzlies have had since Tony Allen.

The only players of any significance that seem to be headed out the door this summer are Dillon Brooks, who became more trouble than he was worth, and Tyus Jones. Meanwhile, Brandon Clarke, Ziaire Williams, and Santi Aldama are among those that should be sticking around, not to mention coach Taylor Jenkins.

The sky’s the limit for the Grizzlies in the coming year, as long as its top player can limit the off-the-court drama.