Return Of Ja Morant Is Too Little Too Late For The Grizzlies This Season

Ja Morant 121823
Ja Morant 121823

It seemed like the Memphis Grizzlies were headed for a tough start to the 2023-24 NBA season when it was announced that star point guard Ja Morant would be suspended for the first 25 games. The roster underwent some reconstruction over the off-season, and the team that was #1 in the Western Conference a year ago didn’t have quite the same expectations.

Ja Morant Will Have To Dig Grizzlies Out Of Big Hole

But it was thought that Morant would at least give them a mid-season boost to perhaps push them back into the playoff race. Instead, the Grizzlies are tied for the second-worst record in the West, sitting with a 6-19 mark after the first 25 games, already 14 games back of the #1 team after two months of the season.

Morant was suspended for his multiple off-court incidents that transpired during the course of last year. There were multiple social media videos that showed Morant brandishing a hand gun, and other public incidents that included alleged battery of a minor and group intimidation of employees at a shopping mall.

Due to being a repeat offender, the NBA came down hard on Ja Morant. The lengthy suspension came on the heels of the 8-game ban that he received last year for one of the gun incidents, but he participated in the one playoff series for the Grizzlies last season and averaged 24.6 points in a 5-game loss to the Lakers.

Return Of Their Star Should Help In Certain Categories

So while a playoff push seems unlikely from a team that is already 13 games under .500, the return of the starting point guard for the Grizzlies will certainly help in some of the categories that they’ve been struggling in. The team is ranked dead last in points per game and dish out the third-fewest assists, and they struggle to get to the free throw line with any regularity as well. These are all portions of the game that Ja Morant excels in, and he will do what he can to improve those numbers.

But will any improvements translate into enough victories to salvage a season that has already gotten away from them?

His presence hasn’t done much to move the needle in terms of the oddsmakers. For Morant’s return this evening, the Grizzlies are listed as 8.5 point underdogs to the Pelicans. It of course has plenty to do with the difference in the records of both teams, but also due to the injuries that Memphis is dealing with in their backcourt.

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