Memphis Grizzlies 2023-24 season preview and predictions

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Memphis Grizzlies season preview

This preview originally appeared in our 2023-24 VSiN NBA Betting Guide, which was released on Thursday, October 5. To become a VSiN Pro subscriber and get all of our NBA coverage throughout the season, click here.

 

Grizzlies Betting Odds

NBA Finals: +2800
Conference: +1300
Division: +160
Win Total: 45.5
Playoffs: Yes (-250)

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Team Analysis

A first-round loss to Los Angeles seemingly motivated Memphis’ front office to shake up certain parts of its roster in the offseason. Dillon Brooks was allowed to walk, and the team flipped two first-round picks and Tyus Jones for Marcus Smart. It’s an intriguing piece to put next to Ja Morant and Desmond Bane in the backcourt, but the first priority for this team is not basketball-related.

Morant will miss the first 25 games of the season due to a suspension handed down over the summer by the NBA. Morant has consistently stepped into trouble off the court, and those issues weighed down the team last season and will affect the team this season. 

Memphis was 16-28 SU/14-28-2 ATS on the road overall and an astonishing 0-19 SU/2-17 ATS as a road underdog. The struggles away from home seemingly tied into Morant and the young Grizzlies putting fun over basketball, as evidenced by a team meeting in which Steven Adams had to address the team’s focus on road trips. One would assume that Morant’s suspension would get this team to focus on the right things, but bettors will need evidence of that first.

Now we must evaluate this team with Morant’s absence in mind. The first thought for some might be that the Grizzlies do well without their star guard, but this team is much different than the one that went 20-5 SU without Morant two seasons ago. 

Last season Memphis went just 11-10 SU without Morant. In the minutes without him on the floor, the Grizzlies posted a +2.3 net rating, but compared to the 7.3 points per 100 possessions by which they outscored opponents without Morant, that net rating is average. This team is also much different in terms of depth. Not only is Brooks on another team, but it is unlikely Brandon Clarke, who suffered a torn Achilles in March, plays this season. Jones is now in Washington and in his place is an aging Derrick Rose off the bench. The depth of this team is nowhere near the same as the last two seasons.

That is not to say there is nothing to like about the Grizzlies. Once Morant’s suspension has been served and he returns, there are still plenty of positives for this team.

One of Memphis’ biggest weaknesses last season was its inconsistent shooting. It took 34% of its attempts from deep, but they only shot 35.7% overall and 35.0% on non-corner attempts. This version of the Grizzlies should be better in that category.

Smart is only a career 32.3% shooter, but he has improved as his career has gone along. He was a high-volume shooter his last four seasons in Boston, averaging 5.7 attempts per game. At the very least, he is good enough that teams must respect his presence along the perimeter and is capable of shooting about 37% from the corners. 

Bane is an established, elite shooter in the NBA who has shot 42.5% for his career overall. Luke Kennard shot 51.6% from deep in his time with Memphis last season, and a full season with him on the roster gives them another elite shot-maker from deep. John Konchar had a down shooting season by his standards last year (33.9% on 2.5 attempts per game), but he is a career 37.4% shooter who hit 42.1% of catch-and-shoot attempts the season prior.

Memphis also still has an elite frontcourt pairing in Jaren Jackson Jr., the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and Steven Adams. When those two were on the floor last season, Memphis outscored opponents by 15.9 points per 100 possessions, and it had a 104.1 defensive rating. Those lineups also ranked in the 100th percentile in offensive rebounding rate and the 92nd percentile in defensive rebounding rate. That should remain a strength once again.

All of this fits wonderfully around Morant when he is on the floor. Morant is an incredible scorer off the bounce who can put pressure on the rim unlike any guard in the league. Last season, he ranked in the 96th percentile in assist rate by dishing dimes on 41.2% of his teammates’ made shot attempts. How he fits off the ball with a player like Smart will be fascinating to watch, but there is no question that the Grizzlies will be among the highest power-rated teams when Morant returns from his absence.

Win Total Analysis

Betting this team’s win total will provide a challenge to bettors. Obviously, the team will look different for the first 25 games of the season as Morant sits due to suspension. Once Morant returns, there will likely be a stretch of inconsistent play from Memphis, as he plays regular season games with Smart and the team’s new iteration for the first time. 

The schedule itself does not provide immense challenges from its construction. Memphis has 12 games in which it has a true rest advantage, and 12 games with a disadvantage. They also have 14 back-to-backs this season, but only four come during the 25 games without Morant. They play nine divisional games without Morant, which could factor into division bets made before the season.

Morant’s suspension throws a wrench into things to win total bettors, and Morant’s injury history is also substantial. As a guard who challenges the rim as often as he does, Morant does miss time frequently outside of suspension. There is a reality in which he misses about 30 games due to the suspension combined with games lost to injury.

That factor makes this a win total hard to realistically bet over the total. When fully formed this should be a team on par with some of the best teams in the Western Conference. However, there will be opportunities to pounce on that later in the regular season. For now, it’s a better bet to go under on a win total for Memphis.

Win Total Recommendation: UNDER 45.5