Ja Morant’s 25 game suspension for lack of self-awareness and understanding of how the internet works is the cloud that hangs over the Memphis Grizzlies season. Some will point to the team’s record without him the past two seasons and assume they will be able to weather the storm. Other’s will point to the overall strength of the West as a reason why the Grizzlies season could be over before Christmas. I’m torn so I’ve decided to do the one exercise that I hate with a passion and analyze their schedule and assign wins and losses during that stretch.
Memphis Grizzlies (Over/Under 45.5 Wins)
Key Additions- Marcus Smart
Key Losses- Dillon Brooks
Home Games - Pelicans, Nuggets, Mavericks twice, Heat, Celtics, Suns, Wolves, Jazz twice, Rockets, and Pacers.
The Pelicans, Nuggets, Heat, Celtics, and Suns as more than likely losses. If they split with the Mavs and Jazz, and beat the rest of the teams, that leaves them with a record of 5-7 at home. Because they’ve been extremely good at home, let’s assume they’ll steal a game from one of the top-tier teams and round it out at 6-6.
Away Games - Wizards, Jazz, Blazers twice, Clippers, Lakers, Spurs, Suns, Rockets twice, Thunder, Pelicans, and Hawks.
The Grizzlie’s defense should be enough to suffocate the Wizards, and Blazers. They should lose to the Clippers, Lakers, Suns, Thunder, and Pelicans. If we give them a .500 record against the remaining teams, that should equate to a 5-8 record on the road.
Overall, the Grizzlies could be staring at a 11-14 record through 25 games. In order to hit the over, they would have to go 35-22 (61.4% winning percentage) once Ja returns from the suspension. A 61.4% winning percentage translates to a 50-win team when you extrapolate it over 82 games. I believe, with Ja Morant and relative overall health, this team can play 50-win caliber basketball after Christmas.
If they can start off better than 11-14 through their first 25 games, the over is that much more attainable. Outside of a disastrous start, the over seems like an easy bet to make. Steven Adams is healthy. Desmond Bane is a stud. Marcus Smart is probably a lateral move in comparison to Dillon Brooks at this point in their respective careers, but the Griz have enough young players to factor in some internal development into their outlook. If the Mavs want to win the division, they should look to take both games without Ja and split the two later in the season. The head-to-head tiebreaker could play a part in who wins the division.
PREDICTION - Over 45.5 Wins