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A “we” culture in Memphis

Misfits, close losses, and being competitive. Everyone deserves their props, but Taylor Jenkins is building camaraderie in year one.

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Look past the obvious fact that this is a progression season for the Memphis Grizzlies, and that Memphis is 6-14 on the season. Focus on the good - the Grizzlies and their team camaraderie through the first 20 games of this season is something that you rarely see from a team that has been assembled the way this one has. It’s a bond that, as it grows stronger, is unlikely to be broken easily. That team unity is in part our first glimpse at how first year Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins wants his future teams to establish a culture.

Separated due to guys that Memphis took on this offseason to use in trades to acquire even more assets around the trade deadline. Even though they know what they signed up for, the Grizzlies are making the most of it as a team to start the season.

Utah Jazz v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Brandon Dill/Getty Images

If you’re looking from the outside in, you see a bunch of misfits that shouldn’t be playing this well for the Grizzlies at any point throughout the first 20 games. Once you dive a little bit deeper, you see a group of guys stepping into roles that they’ve never played before.

The Memphis roster is pieced together through trades this offseason, and guys that teams were looking to move off of their squads. For Memphis and Coach Jenkins, it has been about making it work as best as they can. From the outside looking in, given all the uncertainty surrounding the Grizzlies as the trade deadline approaches, the growth in terms of culture is impressive. Misfit guys, knowing the may not be finishing this season in Memphis, are building a special bond with one another and excelling game-by-game.

Maccabi Haifa v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Their record isn’t the best. But it’s not a season for the Grizzlies and their fan base to worry about the record, but rather the progression of their young core. Seeing team camaraderie from a group of guys that are playing for something bigger is special. The next great Grizzlies team is off on the horizon, and there are lots of guys that at least appear that they want to be a part of it.

We already know that Memphis has played a huge role in players trying to revitalize NBA careers, with guys like James Johnson, JaMychal Green, and Joakim Noah just to name a few. For the Grizzlies this season a guy like Solomon Hill isn’t playing a huge role on this team, but with injuries has been thrust in to more meaningful minutes. Hill has energized his NBA career in these limited opportunities, and shown that he can produce consistently off the bench.

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Jae Crowder is a guy that comes to mind as well. For Crowder, it was about finding stability after being on a handful of teams in the last few years. Crowder made it clear that he wanted to settle down in Memphis, and help the Grizzlies organization move towards something greater. Embracing the city is step one, and it seems like Crowder could be apart of the first chapter of the young Grizzlies progression in to winning. Perhaps most importantly, he wants to be.

Each guy holds themselves accountable, and even with the losses that the Grizzlies have had, I can count only three games where the Grizzlies didn’t appear to give it their all. Sitting at 6-14, seeing Memphis fall short does indeed stink, but makes the feeling that much more sweeter when the Grizzlies can pull off those elusive victories.

A “we” culture is something that you just don’t see at this level of professional basketball often, and even less in a situation like this. In a lost season record wise, Grizzlies fans can take solace in knowing that the future is bright - not just because of talent. But because of the mentality of those that are in place to help it grow.

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