Memphis, Tenn. ( Associated Press) — The youngest NBA team to reach a conference semifinal in the past 25 years has wasted little time turning despair into inspiration.
Yep, soaked in every lesson to help the Memphis Grizzlies chase down their first NBA championship.
“It will motivate us to move forward,” said Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins. “Development individually, growth collectively from this season, it is only going to make us better. It is a step towards this bright future that we always talk about.”
The Grizzlies have been making great strides since the franchise’s reorganization in April 2019. They have gone on to earn the No. 8 seed through a play-in tournament a year before being knocked out of the playoff chase in the Orlando Bubble in August 2020. ,
The second-youngest team in the NBA earned West’s No. 2 seed for the first time in franchise history, equaling the most wins with 56. The Grizzlies won their first playoff series in seven years in six games and lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games. – Last three without All-Star guard Jaa Morant due to a right knee injury.
Dillon Brooks summed up the Grizzlies’ future after a series loss to the three-time NBA champs, reaching their sixth Western Finals in eight years, with the two Memphis United losing by four points.
“We’re young, they’re getting old, so they know we’re coming every year,” Brooks said.
The NBA’s best player will not require surgery for a bruised bone in his right knee, which ended his best playoff series late in Game 3 against Golden State. 2 overall draft pick in 2019 and he had the same right knee surgery this season after he suffered a third knee injury.
Still, Morant is the superstar that Memphis never had with his jersey ranked ninth in NBA sales. He averaged 38 points and eight assists in the semi-finals and joined Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as the only player in NBA history with multiple 45-point playoff appearances before the age of 23.
Morant, who turns 23 in August, was an All-Star starter and finished seventh in MVP voting. He could sign a five-year extension this off-season.
The Grizzlies are second only to the NBA in scoring 115.6 points per game, a franchise record with no points from a player 30 or older. This was the first time that Memphis finished in the top five for scoring average.
They also became the first team to lead the NBA in rebounds, steels and blocks since the Steels and Blocks became official figures in 1973. He led the league in paints, second-chance points, aggressive rebounds and fast-break points.
Jaren Jackson Jr. is coming off his healthiest season yet and hasn’t turned 23 as of September. The fourth overall pick played a career-high 78 games in 2018, and he also led the NBA in the block, setting franchise records with 177 and 2.27 per game.
But Jackson needs to learn how to play without fouling. He fouled thrice this post season.
Jackson said, “I’m trying to work on everything, there are a lot of things I can do on the court and I want to continue to build on all of them and just become more polished and more skilled. ”
The 30th pick in the 2020 draft has already become one of the NBA’s top 3-point threats. Desmond Bain led 43.5% of NBA shootings with at least 600 3 attempts in that period, and he set a franchise single-season record with 228 made 3-pointers.
Together with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Bane became the third player in NBA history to score at least seven 3-pointers in consecutive playoff games. Bane doubled his scoring from his rookie season to 18.2 points and led the Grizzlies in scoring in their first-round series win. He shot 49% of the latter 3 of the season.
Memphis has two first-round picks at numbers 22 and 29 in the upcoming NBA draft.
Kyle Anderson and guard Tyce Jones are both due to hit free agency this summer. Controlling owner Robert Pera has said that he is willing to spend what is needed to keep the Grizzlies together, and Jones gives Memphis plenty of options to support Morant or play next to him.
Brooks and Bain also made it clear that the Grizzlies now understand the need to work harder each season. Improving different aspects of your game Yes, but also conditioning your body to handle the regular season and the long post-season.
“We have to stay healthy and realize that every year we’re going to struggle,” Brooks said.
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