The Grizzlies Love Being Overlooked


The Memphis Grizzlies have said it before.

They want all the smoke.

They run up the chimney and throughout the season, they have had to learn how to be the hunted rather than the hunters. Despite the injuries to Brandon Clarke and Steven Adams and the Ja Morant storyline, the Memphis Grizzlies are the second seed in the West for the the second-consecutive season.

The difference between last season’s run to the Western Conference Semifinals and this year’s postseason appearance is that Memphis did not catch anyone sleeping. This season, the Grizzlies were constantly getting teams’ best punches – they were not sneaking up on anyone, anymore.

The Grizzlies finished with the best home record in the NBA (35-6).

According to FiveThirtyEight, the Grizzlies have a 56% chance of advancing to the second round. That is good for fourth in the West and eighth in the NBA. Numbers say one thing, but numbers do not always fuel narratives.

The Ringer, who loves narratives, has their own version of an odds machine. Their model actually gives Memphis the best odds to win the West, at 23%.

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Mainstream Media Misunderstand

For whatever reason, the Grizzlies, who sit comfortably as the No. 2 seed in the wacky Western Conference, are being overlooked and disrespected by media everywhere.

This was before the Lakers narrowly escaped the Timberwolves in the Play-In Tournament. A Minnesota team missing Rudy Gobert, Naz Reid and Jaden McDaniels at that. Minnesota should have won that game but they resorted to jacking threes and solo ball down the stretch of the fourth quarter and overtime.

Sure, there is no way this is personal in any way. Memphis didn’t waste $95 million on this guy or anything. It is clear that the Warriors upsetting the Kings is the most-likely first-round upset, but pop off king.

Tuesday morning on Keyshawn, J-Will and Max, ESPN radio host Max Kellerman could not even recall the Grizzlies as a team that could potentially win the West.

Take this with a grain of salt because it’s Kendrick Perkins, but not only does he have the Lakers beating the Grizzlies — before they ever played Minnesota — he has them winning the championship:

This all plays perfectly into what the Grizzlies want. No doubt the video and memes of Ja saying he is “fine in the West” are going to be all over the place during the playoffs.

Memphis loves the role of underdogs. They embrace it.

Awards Don’t Matter

Awards do not determine the ultimate goal of winning an NBA title. They do paint pictures, though. Looking beyond playoff predictions, the disrespect in regards to NBA awards and Memphis is even more egregious. Taylor Jenkins should have won Coach of the Year last season for the same reasons people are clamoring for Mike Brown to win it this year.

Based on history, Jenkins should win it this year. Not based on history but on what was accomplished this season, Jenkins should probably still win it.

Anyone trying to push someone other than Jaren Jackson Jr. for Defensive Player of the Year just does not pay attention. While he is getting the most respect nationally from the media, putting him in the same conversation as Brook Lopez as a defender is disrespectful enough.

Different planets.

As laid out before, Ja Morant absolutely performed as an All-NBA guard this season. The funny part about this process is that people will discount Jackson Jr. for minutes/games played, yet will readily include Stephen Curry on an All-NBA team, while playing less than Jaren.

Manifesting Morant to All-NBA Status is a Must

In the end — bulletin board material or not — the Grizzlies care not for public opinion.

They are going to step on the court and play their game. They won’t seek to “prove everyone wrong.” They might, but that will not be why the advance. They will advance because they have been the second-best team in the West all season. They will advance because they have been the best team at home all year. They will advance because they have the rightful Defensive Player of the Year and an All-World point guard.

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