What’s Changed Since We Last Saw Memphis?


By the time the Grizzlies tip-off on July 31, 143 days will have passed since their last game. Despite the world being closed down, the situation changed in Memphis. Let’s take a look at some significant changes that could have an effect on the team down the stretch.

The Health of the Team

When the league closed down, Memphis was a few days away from bringing Jaren Jackson Jr, Brandon Clarke, and possibly Justise Winslow back from injury. They have had plenty of time to rest and recover and will be vital to the team’s success. Jackson and Clarke are significant players in an already established system. Clarke’s historic efficiency was a crucial element to the team’s elite bench play. Jackson’s evolution into an elite shooter has helped the team leap a contender. Both are defensive stalwarts.

There have also been rumors of Grayson Allen returning. Memphis listed him as out indefinitely earlier in the season, and there have been no official reports of his status changing. Allen had carved out a role and established a smooth rhythm in his 30 games this season. He was averaging 7.4 points per game on 45/38/86 before his injury.

Coach Taylor Jenkins recently provided an update on the health of the team:

An even bigger surprise from the Grizzlies’ camp is the health of Jontay Porter. Porter has been rehabbing from an ACL injury. Coach Taylor Jenkins recently said that Porter and Allen have impressed with their competitiveness and ability to get up to speed quickly.

Ja Morant’s Physique

One of Ja’s main areas of improvement is his build. Listed at 174 pounds, he was the third-lightest player to play in 50+ games. No other player around Morant’s weight plays with his explosiveness. Some have pointed to his slender frame as a concern given how much contact Morant endures. Many fans were hoping to see him bulk up a bit during the offseason. Recently, Grizzlies assistant coach Scoonie Penn hinted that the process might have already begun:

If Penn’s analysis is correct, fans could see Morant take another step when the Grizzlies return. Fans already knew Morant for his backyard workouts, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he utilized those during the quarantine period. Morant recently tweeted that he was “12 pounds up”, creating further hype among Grizzlies fans. Whatever he’s doing, his athleticism hasn’t waned – he’s been throwing down windmills and jumping over seven-footers.

A New Assistant Coach

Taylor Jenkins recently added a sixth coach to his staff. Blake Ahearn has deep connections to Jenkins and the Grizzlies’ other staff members and was a player for the Austin Toros when Jenkins was an assistant coach. David McClure, another assistant coach, also played for the team. Grizzlies assistant coach Brad Jones also coached the Toros at one point, winning a championship in 2012. Like Jones, Ahearn eventually became head coach of the Toros, leading them to a championship in 2018. Ahearn will focus on player development with the Grizzlies, mainly shooting progress.

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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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