Five Things That Memphis Grizzlies' Fans Can Look Forward To Post-All-Star Break
The NBA All-Star Break ends Thursday for the Memphis Grizzlies as they prepare to take on the Sacramento Kings on the road but outside of the next game of the schedule, there are several key things to pay attention to going into the final twenty-eight games of the season.
Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr. Breaking Out Of Their Shooting Slumps
Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr. have been the Grizzlies two best long-range shooters so far this season but over the past 7 games, the duo has been in a major shooting slump. Brooks is shooting only 27.3 percent over that stretch while Jackson Jr. is shooting 28.9 percent. Jackson's scoring average has also fallen to 11.6 points per game over this stretch as well. I expect both to get back on track and 'letting it fly' with the accuracy and volume that had both at or above 40 percent earlier this season.
The Debut And Progression Of Justise Winslow
Justise Winslow is yet to make his debut since he was traded to the Grizzlies at the trade deadline but with general opinion being that he would make his debut sometime soon after the All-Star Break, many are anticipating seeing him in the lineup. If Winslow is able to mesh with what the team already has going chemistry wise, the sky is the limit for this young team. His elite-level defense and versatile scoring and playmaking would be a very welcome addition and a solid piece to build around at the small forward position.
My Thoughts On The Anticipation Of What's To Come After The All-Star Break
An Exciting Playoff Race With Possible Budding Rivalries
Playoff races are where rivalries are born and Grizzlies could have one budding quite organically a little further down the Mississippi River. In addition to playing some of the Western Conference's best teams in the Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, and Mavericks en route to securing a playoff spot, the Grizzlies will also have battles with the Blazers, Thunder and Pelicans.
The Pelicans have beaten the Grizzlies convincingly twice this season and a lot of national buzz has centered around the Pelicans possibly passing them. With former AAU teammates and friends, Ja Morant and Zion Williamson now being at the top of a controversial Rookie of the Year race, their geographical proximity to each other, their mutual young stars, and heated race for a playoff spot could be the formula for an exciting rivalry to come.
Post Season Hardware
Outside of Ja Morant being the favorite to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, there are also other possible pieces of hardware that could be awarded to the Grizzlies. Although I think that Toronto Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse is the favorite to win NBA Coach of the Year, I strongly believe that Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins will definitely be in the running as well. He has done a tremendous job as a head coach with a young team, pushing them well beyond expectations.
Zach Kleiman is the other "rookie" that deserves recognition serving as the Grizzlies Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. He and his team have built this Grizzlies team in a basically flawless fashion since taking over the reins this summer. From the draft, to free agency to trades, 'King Kleiman' and company have been on point.
Ja Morant Playing His Best Basketball Of The Season
Ja Morant has earned the calling card of being a fourth-quarter scorer so far in his rookie campaign, and he consistently states that the game's final frame is "winning time." With that being said I would expect that 'Fourth Quarter Ja' will crank his game up for the winning time segment of the season. The Grizzlies are in a playoff push and I expect Ja to elevate not only his game and production but also those of his teammates in true Jaa Morant fashion. I know that it's hard to wrap your head around the concept of bigger moments and bigger games than what we have already seen from Morant but strap up your headbands, get your goggles and popcorn ready and enjoy the ride.