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It marked the first time since 2015 that Memphis advanced to the conference semifinals. Over the past six years, they’d missed the playoffs three times and been knocked out in the first round on three occasions.
The Grizzlies put together the best regular season in team history, finishing second in the Western Conference with a 56-26 record. It was their highest ever regular-season finish.
Memphis has all its key pieces set to return for the 2022-23 season, including Ja Morant and Desmond Bane, but it could stand to make some upgrades.
That said, let’s take a look at the Grizzlies’ free agents and some potential targets in free agency and the draft.
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Kyle Anderson (UFA), Tyus Jones (UFA), Jarrett Culver (UFA), Yves Pons (RFA)
The Grizzlies could probably stand to let any of these players walk. However, Anderson, Jones and Culver could probably be retained at a low price. In that case, they’d be worth hanging on to.
Anderson has spent the last four seasons in Memphis and has been a solid depth player. The 28-year-old averaged 7.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 44.6 percent from the floor and 33 percent from deep in 69 games during the 2021-22 campaign.
Jones, meanwhile, has spent the last three seasons in Memphis. In 73 games during the 2021-22 campaign, he averaged 8.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 45.1 percent from the floor and 39 percent from deep. It was his best season in the NBA.
Culver, 23, has had an incredibly disappointing career since being selected sixth overall in the 2019 draft. He appeared in 34 games during the 2020-21 season before undergoing ankle surgery and missing the remainder of the year.
He then bounced in and out of the lineup in 2021-22, averaging 3.5 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 37 games.
If the Grizzlies are going to let any player go, Culver would probably be the guy. However, if they feel he can revive his career and live up to his draft standard in 2022-23, it would not be surprising to see them re-sign him.
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The Grizzlies are set at point guard, small forward and power forward, but they could stand to make an upgrade at shooting guard and center.
If Memphis really wanted to make a splash, they could attempt a run at Zach LaVine, who is expected to receive a maximum extension. Pairing the chicago bulls guard with Morant and Bane would make the Grizzlies nearly unbeatable.
LaVine, 27, had one of the best seasons of his career in 2021-22, averaging 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 47.6 percent from the floor and 38.9 percent from deep in 67 games.
Another player the Grizzlies could target is Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, who has a player option worth $35 million for the 2022-23 season. If he opts in, Memphis would have to inquire about a trade. If he becomes a free agent, landing him is much easier.
Beal is one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. While he missed most of the 2021-22 season with an injury, he still averaged 23.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 6.6 assists in 40 games while shooting 45.1 percent from the floor and 30 percent from deep.
If neither player is available, Bruce Brown Jr., Lonnie Walker IV and Donte DiVincenzo could be interesting options.
As for centers, Jusuf Nurkic and Deandre Ayton will be among the best available and would represent a pretty significant upgrade over Steven Adams.
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The Grizzlies have done extremely well in the draft in recent years. See Morant and Bane, for example. That said, Memphis is expected to have two picks in the first round of the draft—their own, one from the Utah Jazz and another from the Los Angeles Lakers.
MarJon Beauchamp, Bryce McGowens and David Roddy could be potential picks for Memphis.
Instead of playing in the NCAA, Beauchamp played for the NBA G League’s Ignite, and he had quite the 2021-22 season. The 21-year-old averaged 15.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
Beauchamp has great length, athleticism and scoring instincts that would make him fit well on a Grizzlies roster that is built for offense.
McGowens, meanwhile, spent his freshman season with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He averaged 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
McGowens would be a nice fit for the Memphis shooting guard position, though it would take him some time to become a starter.
Roddy played his junior season at Colorado State and would also be a solid shooting option for the Grizzlies. He averaged 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season, his best from him at the collegiate level.