2021 Memphis Grizzlies Preview & Gambling Guide
2020 Memphis Grizzlies Review
The young Grizz arrived ahead of schedule last year, going a solid 38-34, then knocked off Stephen Curry and the Warriors in the Play-In Tournament to punch their first playoff ticket since 2016/17. The fact that they only managed to beat Utah once in the first round is beside the point – this is a team whose oldest player to see significant minutes was the “ancient” 28-year-old Jonas Valanciunas. The Memphis Grizzlies overachieved last season, but will it transfer over to this one? Let’s try to find out in our 2021 Memphis Grizzlies preview.
What’s New for 21/22
What’s not new for 2021/22, is more like it. But in all seriousness, the Grizzlies did make quite a few offseason moves, but nothing too significant. Here are the comings and goings of note:
The loss of Valanciunas is a big blow, as he’s a walking double-double. While his replacement Adams will increase the team’s toughness and defense inside, he’s not on Valanciunas’s level offensively (considering the team ranked sixth in defensive rating and 15th in offensive last season, this seems like an unnecessary move). And for a middle-of-the-road offensive team last year, they also just lost their top outside shooter in Allen.
In addition to Adams, the other key additions are Jarrett Culver, the number six pick in 2019 who has been nothing but a bad NBA player thus far, and rookie Ziaire Williams, who many felt was a reach at pick number 10 this past draft. He has tantalizing potential but is considered a project at this point, and is currently listed as a third-string wing for the team.
While the offseason moves seem to be a step back, the team is banking on their young stars to continue to progress. Point guard and leader Ja Morant is the engine to this machine. The team will be looking for a bigger improvement from him this year, as his shooting still leaves much to be desired and actually got worse from his rookie to sophomore season. If he is going to be the superstar the Grizzlies need him to be, he has to progress in all aspects of the game.
The biggest factor that could make or break this season in Memphis is the health of Jaren Jackson Jr. He’s proven to be a three and D type of big man for the team, but he can’t stay healthy. He missed 24 games his rookie year, 16 his second, then 61 last year. If he’s good to go this year, the team could continue to progress.
NBA Title +10000
Western Conference: +5000
Southwest Division: +400
To Make Playoffs: +110 (No: -140)
O/U: 41.5 (Over: -120, Under: +100)
Best Bet: Grizzlies to miss playoffs (-140)
As mentioned in the opening, the Grizzlies were ahead of schedule by making the playoffs last season. This probably will put undue pressure on them to do the same – or better – this year. But I think that’s unreasonable given the makeup of their roster (still very young) and the competitiveness of the Western Conference. If JJJ is healthy for the full year, they could make some noise. And with a fearless big game player like Morant, the sky could be the limit. But I don’t think the playoffs are a realistic goal.
Memphis Grizzlies Player Prop Bets
Ja Morant over 20.6 ppg (-115)
Despite his shooting taking a dip across the board last season, Morant was still able to bump up his scoring per game by over a point to 19.1 ppg. With Valanciunas gone and replaced by the non-shooting Adams, and marksmen Allen also out of town, more shots should be available for Morant. More shots plus hopefully better accuracy should put him right in that 20.6 ppg range.
Brandon Clarke wins Sixth Man of the Year (+6000)
Just for fun let’s throw down some pocket change on a big +6000 dog in Brandon Clarke for Sixth Man of the Year. First off, with JJJ’s status always up in the air, the minutes could be there for Clarke (hopefully he doesn’t end up starting too many games). Plus this award generally goes to the player who puts up good scoring numbers, something Clarke has been able to do throughout his short NBA career (not to mention decent rebounding stats too). With more eyes likely on the Grizzlies this year, let’s take a flier and see if it pays off big time.
Memphis Grizzlies Fantasy Preview
Not surprisingly Ja Morant is the first Memphis player coming off of the board in drafts this year, going around 33. I wouldn’t balk at taking him earlier than that, as he’s still so young his best days should have yet to come, plus the assists he brings to your roster are invaluable. Jaren Jackson Jr at 68 seems a bit rich for my blood due to his injury concerns. But if healthy he’s a great addition to your roster. Kyle Anderson at 128th could be a steal, as he stuffs all of the stat boxes for you. But I’m fading Steven Adams at 114th – who knows what role he’ll play (if any) in this offense and he doesn’t bring big defensive numbers either.
Draft: Ja Morant, Kyle Anderson
Fade: Jaren Jackson Jr (early), Steven Adams
NBA Team Previews