With Winslow Out, Who Will Memphis Turn To?


The Grizzlies have had minimal issues since the NBA Bubble was formed. The team was poised to be at full strength upon the season’s resumption.

That changed on July 21st, when new addition Justise Winslow went down with a hip injury at practice. Winslow was subsequently ruled out for the season. He is expected to be ready for the 2020-21 season, but his 2020 season comes to end before it ever really began.

As a player, you really just want to play the game that you sacrifice your body and life for. The injury comes at a time when Justise looked to be amping up for a solid playoff run to potentially change the Grizzlies’ future. Winslow has the potential to be a game-changing player when he is on the court. His body has often failed him during his NBA tenure, but he is young with time on his side. The city of Memphis is behind Justise!

Who steps up?

This Grizzlies team is the exact same team that secured the eighth seed during the season. The Winslow injury does hurt due to how versatile he was both on the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

This is one of the deepest Grizzlies teams ever, however. Chris Vernon, Grind City Media digital host and contributor, often says “just don’t have players that suck”. This team is young, hungry and solid from the top to bottom. There are three players that could be the fifth starter on this team along with a few other players that could shine with extra minutes.

The four starters should be Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jonas Valanciunas. The small forward position, may have been filled by Winslow. There are others that have started throughout the season, but Justise seemed to be on track to contribute since he was finally healthy. The three players that should be in consideration all bring something different to the team.

Three Contenders

Third-year player Josh Jackson has had a wild ride to start his NBA career. This season, he started in the G League but ended up becoming one of the Grizzlies’ key players. Averaging 10 points per game, Jackson’s 19 games in Memphis were some of the best in his career. Josh brings less defense than the other two possibilities, but he can space the floor more due to his shooting ability. Jackson can shoot, pass and fly up and down the court at a high level, but does he have the chemistry with the other assumed starters? Chemistry is hard to judge without games, so is the unknown greater than the known?

Kyle Anderson is the complete opposite of Josh, and can defend multiple positions. Kyle started 20 games for the Grizzlies this year and is a reliable post distributor. He doesn’t need the ball and often and creates deflections on defense.

Anderson is the safe play here due to his familiarity, but the offense has a lower ceiling with him in this spot. Will the experience and defense be what Taylor Jenkins is looking for in the starting lineup?

The sneaky player here is De’Anthony Melton due to him being a little bit of Josh and Kyle. Melton is a much smaller guard than the others, but he can shoot, disrupt and defend. Grizzlies announcer Pete Pranica coined the “Mr. Do Something” nickname for Melton. De’Anthony is the player that can guard the smaller lineups of today and creates the disruption on the defensive end that makes this team who they are.

Who gets the nod?

In the end, I could see each player being in the starting lineup, and could change in each game. The team has great chemistry all around, so I don’t see any of the three being a bad pick as the fifth starter. I would choose Melton most often due to his all-around game and ability to guard elite perimeter players. We tweeted a poll and the people chose Josh over De’Anthony and Kyle. Josh is a fan favorite, and he could be a huge factor immediately if his hot streak continues.

Bench Please!

The bench unit is led by the now-injured Tyus Jones with a myriad of talent surrounding him. The best opportunity is often when a player that is expected to contribute goes down due to injury. De’Anthony Melton stepped in for Ja Morant this year when Morant was unable to go. The opportunity is here now that Winslow is out for the remainder of the season.

Brandon Clarke has had a magical rookie season to date and there is no better time to shine. With Winslow out, he may not benefit directly position wise, but he benefits with more minutes being there for the taking. Clarke has shown good results with the bench unit and when the Grizzlies go small with Jaren Jackson at the 5. Brandon is one of the reasons this bench unit has often won games for the team.

Grayson Allen is a sleeper player here because, just like Justise, he hasn’t been healthy this year. He will not be a player that plays consistent minutes, but has the opportunity to take advantage of spot minutes. He can be a key contributor due to his athleticism and shooting ability. Grayson is still a young player that has high potential if he learns to be more of a floor spacer, outside shooter and solid defender. All teams need players that can defend and shoot threes. Allen looks to be healthy and could see minutes just as Josh Jackson had when he joined the Grizzlies this year.

Can the real fan favorite please stand up? John Konchar continues to steal the hearts of Grizzly fans with each play he makes. He isn’t a superstar, but, like Tony Allen, he helps win games. John is a spark for this team and a spark for the city. When Konchar gets in the game, he will surprise you just as he has surprised me all season long.

Key to Success

With the Grizzlies having eight games in fourteen days, the depth of this team will be tested. Players will be asked to do more and push their bodies harder than they have in the past. Role players could be a key factor to this two week stretch. So having players, as Chris Vernon says, “that just don’t suck” could be the key to holding off the upcoming opponents and securing a first round match-up against LeBron James and the Lakers.

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

About Daniel Greer

Audio Director for The Lead Sports Media. Contributor for Grizz Lead & Bet The Lead. Host of the Grizz 901 podcast.

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