Grizz Lead Roundtable: 2020-21 Season Predictions


The Grizzlies open their regular season tonight against San Antonio. #GrzNxtGen is looking to build on last year’s successes and apply lessons learned in the bubble to the new season. Expectations are still rather low, but if the preseason is any indication, the Grizzlies will remain a fun, competitive team, and likely surprise some teams yet again.

After going 3-1 in the preseason, many Grizzlies fans believe the team can compete for a play-in spot again this year. Ja Morant looks poised to lead the team there, and the team has surrounded him with players that complement him perfectly. The chemistry between Morant and Jonas Valanciunas looked great, Kyle Anderson looks like himself again, and Dillon Brooks appears to have settled in to his role. The Grizz locked up De’Anthony Melton and John Konchar with multi-year deals, as well, meaning their core has nothing but time to grow together.

After watching the team in the preseason, our group of analysts got together to discuss and predict the regular season.

What will the Grizzlies record be this season? Which seed will they be in the West?

Daniel Greer: My expectations for this team are fairly high. I think that we have one of the deepest Grizzlies teams that I have ever seen. With the potential effects of COVID-19, having quality players at 8-15 could come in very handy. My record prediction is 39-33, eighth seed. I think this young team could really surprise a lot of fans in Memphis and around the country.

Reggie Walker Junior: The Memphis Grizzlies will finish the regular season with a 41-31 record. They will be the seventh seed.

Zak White: My prediction here may make many readers doubt my Grizzlies fandom or general NBA credibility, but I’ve got to go with my gut. This season the Grizzlies will finish a shade under their Vegas-predicted win total of 30.5 and complete the season with 30 wins and the tenth seed. Yes, Ja Morant is likely going to make some huge leaps and the Grizzlies have added depth to their roster. However, the league is now extremely aware of the aforementioned Morant and once teams decide to specifically gameplan for him and devote their best defenders’ attention to him, the Grizzlies will have to adapt. With Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justise Winslow (he is still a Grizzly, right?) on the mend, Memphis will have to find additional ways to power their offense while Ja works through the increased attention from opponents’ defenses.

Bailey Caldwell: Despite the team’s overall improvements, I still think they’re a year or two away from truly competing for playoff spots. I think they’ll win 32 games, good for 10th in a deep Western Conference.

Who will be the Grizzlies’ MVP?

Daniel Greer: The leap Ja takes from year 1 to 2 is going to be a large leap in my opinion. I could see him averaging 20 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals. These numbers are lofty, but very much in the reach of a player like Morant. Ja will be the MVP of this team and I would not be surprised if he actually earns some league MVP votes this year.

Reggie Walker Junior: Without knowing where my portion of this discussion will be placed, I’m just gonna assume that a certain young PG coming off a Rookie of the Year season is off the board.

With that being the case, I’m going outside the box and saying that this year, the Most Valuable Grizz will be none other than…De’Anthony Melton! Mr. Do Something will have success with pretty much any 5-man unit Jenkins throws out there. I’m thinking he puts up 14, 5, 3 and 2…assign categories however ya feel!

Zak White: Pretty easy call. Ja has been the Grizzlies’ MVP since the moment he was drafted. This is true not only on the court, but off the court as well. No one is going to sell more jerseys or bring more eyeballs to the Grizzlies than Morant.

Bailey Caldwell: Ja will get the love, but I think Jonas Valanciunas will be the team’s MVP. His pick and rolls will be vital for helping Morant get inside, and his new-ish confidence from deep will allow the pick-and-pop to flourish while Jaren is out. Valanciunas’ rebounding will be vital for the team as they play small ball. His consistent inside offense will help bail them out when they run into those inevitable stalls. I also believe JV will improve as a pick-and-roll defender, and handle perimeter switches better than last year.

Who will be the Grizzlies’ Most Improved Player?

Daniel Greer: Are we seeing a new-and-improved Dillon Brooks? I believe so. If Dillon can learn to pass first and shoot second, he could become Memphis’ most improved player. I know Jaren Jackson Jr. will receive a lot of votes, but I believe Brooks is in a good spot to improve both in the eyes of the fans and on the court.

Reggie Walker Junior: Sometimes being “on the nose” is a good thing and in this particular instance, I’m going for some Rudolph level nosery.

Last year was just skippin’ rocks off the surface of tiny pond. This season, we’ll see Brandon Clarke become the prince of Atlantis and toss a couple of submarines around!

BC goes for 16 points and eight rebounds a night and cruises to the Most Improved award.

Zak White: For Most Improved Player, I’m going to go with Grayson Allen. Allen is a guy that doesn’t appear on many people’s radars as an impact player for the Grizzlies. However, the Memphis offensive system is set up for him to thrive as an outside shooter. Memphis has lacked three-point firepower for a long time. In the bubble, Allen showed glimpses of his first-round talent and affirmed the front offices’ decision to pursue him in the Mike Conley trade. Memphis’ offense should open up a lot more this season and allow Allen to settle into his game and make a leap in his third season.

Bailey Caldwell: I’m all in on De’Anthony Melton for the Grizzlies’ Most Improved. I’ve stated that I believe Jaren can win league-wide MIP, and I’ll hold on to that, but I believe Melton’s improvements will have a large effect on this team’s success. I’ve written about his impact numerous times, and I think it will be on full display this season. Melton has a strong case to start alongside Ja and Dillon Brooks. I anticipate him taking that role and thriving. I think he’ll post a 12-5-4-2-1 stat line and shoot 32% from deep, which would be a big step up from his 28.6% last year.

What is your fun take/prediction for this season?

Daniel Greer: Ja will make the All-Star team.

Reggie Walker Junior: Last season, I didn’t have too many critiques of Taylor Jenkins and his coaching decisions.

If one thing did stick out to me, it was the lack of coaches’ challenges thrown out by the 1st year skipper.

The preseason has seen Coach a little looser lighting the lamp for a possible game changing possession. For that reason, I predict Taylor Jenkins will have the over on 30 or more challenges on the 72-game haul.

Zak White: If the Grizzlies add anyone to the roster this season through trade or free agency, that player will have played college basketball with a current Grizzly. That’s just a fact. Zach Kleiman has an affinity for pairing up former college teammates. We’ve got several Zags, Spartans, Blue Devils, and even Racers in preseason. He is looking for ways to build a culture and part of that is helping surround the players with guys they are comfortable with.

Bailey Caldwell: Jaren takes the leap. Whenever he returns, I think Jaren will prove that his bubble performance was no fluke. I think he will average 22 and 7, and establish himself as one of the league’s premier young forwards. His defense will also take a step forward. He will shake some of his bad habits on that end, lower his foul numbers, and average two blocks a night.

What is your bold take for this season?

Daniel Greer: Justise Winslow will, FINALLY, stay injury-free this season and break out to be the player I know he can be. Winslow can be that #1 defender on this team while posting 15 points, eight rebounds, three steals and three assists.

Reggie Walker Junior: The Grizz will hang on to the 7th seed in a crowded but non-dominant Western Conference.

They’ll battle Dallas in the first round (Luka vs Ja!) and win 4-2. After falling to a third-seeded, load managed Lakers squad by and identical 4-2 margin, every non-Memphis fan will realize what Grizz fans have been thinking this whole offseason…The Future is Now.

Zak White: The Grizzlies will be better this season with Kyle Anderson at the four than Jaren Jackson. This may trigger you, but I don’t feel like Jaren is at his best as a post player. He is not physically tough enough to body up large players on defense, and he sure doesn’t know how to keep from fouling them. Jackson will bring his best value by playing out on the wing, where he can continue to be the team’s best three-point shooter and also drive to the rim from the perimeter. Anderson creates confusion on the defensive and adds value on the offensive end with random scoring bursts and his distribution skills.

Bailey Caldwell: The Grizzlies will be in the top half of the league in both offensive and defensive rating. Last year, they were 20th in offensive and 15th in defensive. With another year of growth, improved chemistry, and Jenkins’ new-look, four guard lineups, I think the numbers will improve. I don’t think they’ll quite crack the top ten, but I could realistically see them being 12th in offense and 15th in defense. They may even be a top five pace team after being sixth last year.

Follow us on Twitter @Grizz_Lead for the latest Grizzlies news and insight. 

About Richmond Bailey Caldwell

Die-hard Grizzlies fan since 2009. Aspiring basketball writer and coach. University of Georgia sport management alum. Perennial first team all-defense selection.

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