Projected starting lineup: Memphis Grizzlies
Point Guard: Ja Morant*
Shooting Guard: Desmond Bane
Small Forward: John Konshar
Power Forward: Jaren Jackson Jr.
Center: Steven Adams
* After serving a 25-game suspension
After finishing with the second-best record in the Western Conference last season, the Memphis Grizzlies will start this season in a bit of a hole. Star Ja Morant will miss the first 25 games of the regular season due to suspension, so new arrival Marcus Smart will start. All things considered, that is a good stopgap option and should help him integrate into Memphis much sooner.
There’s also hope that a healthy Jackson Jr. and Bane will be able to hold down the fort. Jackson Jr. missed the first several weeks of the season, which allowed Bane to show out before he too got injured. With both ready to start this season and a good point guard rotation in Smart and former MVP-turned-role player Derrick Rose, the Grizzlies should be able to make up for a potentially slow start.
Even then, Memphis may still feel the long-term effects of Morant’s suspension. Last season, they finished as the second-seed in the West, only to run into the Lakers, who completely remade their team in the second half of the season.
Had they not run into a team that was on a tear, they could have perhaps made the West Finals. As a lower seed, the chances of them making that run in next year’s playoffs would be even tougher, though not impossible. The Grizzlies are definitely talented enough, but will they be able to make up for missing their best player for nearly 1/3 of the season?