January 14, 2024, 4:37 pm
The Grizzlies were just hoping to tread water while Ja Morant served out his 25-game suspension. If they could get through that, while uncovering some unheralded contributors along the way, then the team could hit the gas pedal around the new year.
Last week saw their season totally go up in flames, as Morant was announced to be headed for season-ending surgery on a torn labrum. Shortly after that, Marcus Smart suffered a finger injury that’ll keep him out for six weeks. Desmond Bane sprained his ankle in the next game, and Jaren Jackson Jr. sat out on Saturday with knee issues that have popped up before. The starting lineup is a wild card at this point, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see other Grizzlies get the clean-up surgeries they’ve been putting off in hopes of making a push up the standings.
Now, where does that leave fantasy managers? Morant can be dropped in all redraft leagues. Smart is someone to try and hold if you have IL spots to work with, and obviously you hang onto Bane and Jackson unless their injuries turn totally disastrous. The remaining Grizzlies should be relatively hot commodities on the waiver wire, however.
Your top picks are Vince Williams and Luke Kennard. Williams has risen the ranks and put up late-round numbers last week, though he was hurt by poor shooting and still managed 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.3 triples per game. That’ll most definitely play unless a sparkling FG% is a high priority for you. Kennard’s probably better suited to those builds, though his standout numbers will be points and 3-pointers. Even then, last week he got close to Williams in rebounds and dimes by virtue of a ton of minutes. Both are viable in 12-team leagues.
Xavier Tillman is also on the board for standard leagues as the starting center by default after the Grizzlies waived Bismack Biyombo. He’s got three good games in a row and is cranking up the defensive production of late. He has no challengers to his minutes at the moment, so he’s a strong option if you need help up front.
Deep-leaguers will find lots of lottery tickets flying around, with David Roddy, Ziaire Williams, John Konchar, Jacob Gilyard and GG Jackson all lined up for legitimate opportunities. Depending on the length of Bane’s injury, Jackson is particularly intriguing because he might be the last guy left on the roster capable of creating his own shots. Efficiency is going to be volatile but Jackson is going to be a solid source of points if he gets 20 minutes a night.
Gilyard is another player who is backing into a starting role by default, and it’s not the first time he’s hit the fantasy radar. He should be able to grind out assists if nothing else.
TJ McConnell, G, Indiana Pacers
We had McConnell as a deep-league add last week thanks to Andrew Nembhard’s injury, but this week he may be the top player available with Tyrese Haliburton set to miss multiple weeks with a hamstring strain. McConnell isn’t going to move the needle if your teams are built on points, rebounds, blocks and 3-pointers, but he’s the rare guard who can deliver a ton of assists and steals while also proving to be a plus in field goal percentage. There’s no reason McConnell should be on waivers in any competitive league.
Grayson Allen, G, Phoenix Suns
Allen was here last week but might’ve been dropped after a couple slow games. We’d pick him up if that’s the case, as Allen’s fit in the starting lineup is a good one, and he should be able to cruise to top-100 numbers without demanding too much on offense. The Suns figure to have some funky box scores rolling in as they learn how to play together but don’t let that dissuade you from rostering Allen.
Nick Richards, C, Charlotte Hornets
Richards is a surprise inclusion here since we have known about him for multiple weeks already, but he’s still available in well over half of all leagues. The Hornets have finally ruled Mark Williams out rather than perpetually label him doubtful, giving Richards a little extra job security. There’s no threat to his playing time and while he’s far from exciting, he’s a nightly double-double threat with multi-block potential.
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