It’s getting harder now.
Now that Golden State has informed the entire league through its post-champion obsession with the challenge of Memphis, these Grizzlies are considered a serious move forward.
Now that Grizzlies chief manager Zach Kleiman is the youngest person to be named the NBA’s best manager of the year.
Now that he’s been the team’s top decision-maker long enough to develop certain patterns and trends, though none more successful or clearer than his annual trades in the NBA to rise higher.
Now that the third round of the Memphis first-round draw had never materialized this year, the Los Angeles Lakers did not make it to the playoffs.
Now that the Grizzlies have hit so many drafts in a row, it could be because they didn’t get the right choice.
However, Thursday’s NBA draft (19:00 CT, ABC / ESPN) may still be the easiest way for them to get where they want to go. They have passed this test before. Maybe they’ll do it again.
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The journey from 56 wins and second-round play-offs to the NBA Finals – the next part of the journey with Kleiman, coach Taylor Jenkins, Ja Moranti, Jaren Jackson Jr. and the rest of this young Memphis core – is about to begin. reveal yourself. What the Grizzlies look like after the draft ends, and maybe the rest too, will be the focus of the rest of the season.
They have signed 12 players, three potential drafts and two free agents for next season. They could add three newcomers to the list. They could add one. They couldn’t add anything. They can replace a core member entering the final year of the contract, such as De’Anthony Melton, Dillon Brooks, Steven Adams or Brandon Clarke. There was nothing they could do.
Kleiman can’t really confuse it, in the sense that Memphis is once again an intriguing team, even if it will remain largely patchy for the next few weeks. He does not intend to trade with Morant, although the Memphis Zoo may do so.
(Seriously, couldn’t we have traded in a giraffe not named after Moranti?)
Grizzlies ’preference seems to be another deal to rise above the draft queue, as they did for Brandon Clarke (No. 21, 2019), Desmond Bane (No. 30, 2020), Xavier Tillman Sr. (No. 35, 2020), Ziaire Williams (No. 10, 2021) and Santi Aldama (No. 30, 2021).
ESPN researcher Zach Lowe said in his Lowe Post podcast this week that the Grizzlies are “calling in every direction” in an effort to improve their choice. Why mess with a formula that has already worked so well? The bill is by far and far the biggest reason why the Grizzlies have been so far ahead of all forecasts that Kleiman took over the head office in 2019.
The fact that this success comes immediately after the Grit and Grind era, which could have been extended if Memphis hadn’t bombarded so many of its draft options, makes it shine even brighter.
It was originally the arrival of Moranti and Clarke. In 2020, it was added to Bane. In 2021, it was a better-than-expected first season due to the exponential recovery of Williams and Bane. This development fundamentally changed Grizzles’ outlook, as it gave them three players with whom they almost certainly do not want to split right now.
As unlikely as the newcomer’s shortcoming in the upcoming season is, the luxury of the situation in Memphis itself is that the opening window of the championship may remain open for some time, given the relative age of all involved.
Kleiman and Jackson signed an extension agreement last year. Jenkins did it earlier this month. As soon as Memphis is allowed, Morant will offer him a maximum extension next month.
Be it short-term or long-term, however, it seems likely that the Grizzlies in their current form are not the same as the hypothetical Grizzlies team that will one day climb to the top of the NBA.
It is difficult to imagine exactly what this will entail. Thursday could provide more clarity.
You can contact Mark Giannotto, a columnist at Commercial Appeal, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: @mgianotto
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