Ja Morant set to return from suspension Tuesday night, can Grizzlies' season be salvaged?
Memphis' plan to survive quarterback Josh Morant's 25-game exile was to hand the ball to Desmond Bane and bring in Marcus Smart and Derrick Rose to lead the offensive.
After that, he would get them back to their previous two seasons' level of play (when Memphis was ranked second and won more than 50 games).
Failure of plan. Centre Steven Adams won't play again after knee surgery, and Brandon Clarke is recovering from Achilles surgery. Kennard, Smart, Rose hurt. JR's 3-point shooting plummeted. Bismack Biyombo became JJJ's centre as Memphis' top defence struggled.
Smart called teammates' play lousy. Despite Desmond Bane's 24.6 points and 5.2 assists, the Grizzlies have the worst NBA offence after 25 games. Problem: Memphis ranks 27th in rim-shot and 29th in 3-point. Not right.
Ja Morant will return from his 25-game ban against the Pelicans on Tuesday for a Grizzlies team that is 6-19 and 7.5 games behind the No. 10 seed and final play-in place Suns.
Can the Grizzlies season be salvaged?
Maybe if Memphis modifies its expectations. This season, Memphis will not be the No. 2 seed. not in the top six.
After this poor start, the Grizzlies must make the play-in, which will be difficult. Memphis must pass Golden State, Utah, and Phoneix, the No. 10 seed, by 7.5 games.
Grizzlies must finish around.500 to qualify for the play-ins (ESPN's BPI estimates the No. 10 seed in the West to have 41 or 42 wins). Memphis would need 35-22 to reach.500, a 61.4 win percentage, or 51 wins like previous season.
Memphis can make the play-in if Morant launches the offence and they play like they did last season. Though difficult, it's doable in the deep West. Last season's play-in Lakers reached the Western Conference Finals.
However, there is a possibility. Morant is given a second opportunity. That is the only thing that he is requesting at this point.
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