For the 18th straight year, NBA.com has released their annual GM Survey for the upcoming NBA season. The article asks many different questions regarding individual players and NBA rosters, coaching staffs, and front offices to the 30 General Managers in the NBA. This means that Zach Kleiman was able to express his opinion for the first time as he is about to embark on his first season as the Grizzlies’ GM.
Similar to last year, the Grizzlies were represented well, mainly in area of the 2019-2020 rookie class. Similar to last year when they picked Jaren Jackson Jr., both Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke are viewed in a very positive light across the NBA. Jackson Jr. was spotlighted himself as well, as many around the league feel he could take the next step forward in his development.
Specifically, Jackson Jr. finished in a second place tie in the “Most Likely To Breakout” category. De’Aaron Fox was first, while Jackson Jr. was tied with Jayson Tatum for second, ahead of Brandon Ingram and Jamal Murray who were tied for third. While there is no quantitative criteria that determines the selections, it can be inferred this means that several important NBA minds feel Jackson Jr. can take the next step toward becoming a true All-Star level talent this year. Obviously, if Jackson Jr. were to come close to that level in the near future, it would a wonderful development for the Grizzlies and their future.
For Morant, he finished second in the “Rookie of the Year” and “Best Rookie in Five Years” categories. This could obviously be looked upon as a cliche’ or an “easy out” type of answer since Morant was the second pick in the draft. However, while Zion Williamson received 68% of the vote in both categories, Morant was the only other rookie to receive more than 15% in each of them as well. While he is not viewed to be the same caliber of player as Williamson, it seems the NBA clearly views him as the second best player in this class in the present and future.
Clarke received 21% of the vote in the “biggest steal at where he was selected” category. That was good for second behind Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and offers further confirmation that the NBA views Clarke as a relevant talent that should only get better in the future. Along with their young core, new Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins also received a bit of recognition. He finished fifth in the “Which New or Relocated Head Coach Will Make The Biggest Impact” category. While very little is known about Jenkins’s ability as a head coach at this point, this seems to indicate leaders around the NBA feel he can succeed.
As a team, the Grizzlies did receive a vote in the “NBA team with best young core” category. Overall, the initial feedback from the Grizzlies offseason overhaul seems to be viewed in a very positive light. While the preseason has shown that there will be plenty of growing pains, it also has offered many moments of just how much talent and potential the Grizzlies’ front office and coaching staff has to work with. While the Grizzlies may not need outside validation for their efforts, increased and consistent recognition from across the league is never a bad thing to create.