The Memphis Grizzlies have been the surprise of the NBA season.
Led by MVP candidate Ja Morant, they currently possess the second-best record in the league at 49-23 behind the Phoenix Suns.
In many ways they’re a year or two early to the party, but based on their performance and confidence, they have every intention of crashing the playoffs in a big way.
The Grizzlies also have the second-youngest roster in the league with an average of 24 years. Only the OKC Thunder are younger.
ESPN’s All-Access, a day of programming and content dedicated to one of the league’s rising franchises, will lead up to the game against KD and the Brooklyn Nets.
— Ben Cafardo (@Ben_ESPN) March 16, 2022
David Roberts the head of ESPN’s NBA and Studio production had this to say about the daylong event.
“When you look at the Memphis Grizzlies, they have one of the best records in the NBA, and it’s under the radar. They have some of the best young talent in the NBA, as well as we look where the league’s future lies in terms of the next generation of stars; arguably it starts in Memphis.”
Grizzlies Play A Showtime Brand Of Basketball: Covering Them All Day Should Be Interesting
Gone are the days of the “Grit and Grind” with Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. With budding superstar Morant and a bevy of young talented players, the Grizzlies are legit and a threat to pretty much the entire Western Conference with the exception of the Suns with a healthy Chris Paul. The party on Beale Street nightly is not what we’re used to seeing as it pertains to Memphis basketball.
Memphis is a small-market team and doesn’t generate the following it should based on the talent and success of the team.
If this team were in NYC or L.A., they would do some major numbers as far as viewership, ratings and marketability goes. With Morant being the only marketable player on the roster, his flair and exciting style of play is vital for the Grizzlies.
Roberts Touts The Day As A Major, Major Event
ESPN is going to roll out the red carpet for the Grizzlies. The entire “NBA Countdown” crew will be in attendance. As will the “NBA Today” cast. Longtime ESPN personalities Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon will also make the trek to FedExForum in the heart of the Blues City.
“It’s going to be a major, major event,” Roberts said. “You’ll find elements throughout the major shows. That access is just something that fans want to see. This is going to be an opportunity for us to highlight the next generation of stars in the NBA.”
Fans will also get to hear SAS rant about how the Knicks missed out on Ja Morant in the 2019 draft by one pick. Morant was taken No. 2 overall and the Knicks ended up with franchise cornerstone RJ Barrett with the third pick.
But most New Yorkers wanted Morant.
“I was just so depressed when they ended up with the third pick because I knew Morant was going No. 2 and Zion Williamson was going No. 1,” Smith said to the Memphis Commercial Appeal in an interview this week.
Ja Morant Questionable For Wednesday‘s Game: Memphis Has Flourished Without Him
The Grizzlies have been winning despite the absence of superstar Ja Morant, who’s nursing a sore knee. In the last two seasons they’ve gone 19-6 without him, including 14-2 this season.
The team’s success is a true indication of how talent-laden this current Grizzlies roster is, and the exceptional coaching of Taylor Jenkins, a product of the Gregg Popovich and Mike Budenholzer coaching tree.
He’s the perfect coach for that young roster, always in tune and knowing what buttons to push.
The Grizzlies have two bona fide All-NBA talents on their roster in Morant and stretch four Jaren Jackson Jr. They’re surrounded by some really solid role players who’ve been dynamite this season. When a player is out they’ve usually had others step up and carry the load.
The team was quiet during free agency and the trade deadline, opting to keep their current unit intact. They recently passed the Golden State Warriors in the standings, meaning they are in great position to have home court advantage over them in a second-round playoff series.
This Memphis team is just scratching the surface, and, barring major injury to their star players, should be a force for years to come. They exude confidence, grit, and are fun to watch.