One of the things I am most thankful for in life is the release date of the NBA 2K franchise. With such a seemingly long off season, when September rolls around, life without basketball really begins to hit hard.
With the release of the new 2K every September, the basketball junky gets a little fix. With all the excitement of the offseason dying out, the new game allows us fans to play with our favorite team and their new rookies or free agents or even traded players. Honestly, some first reactions of offseason moves are “Man, they are gonna be lethal on 2K.”
There is excitement around the NBA with the numerous new duos spread throughout the league. The same can be said of Memphis and good energy heading into this new season. A new up tempo offense built around Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr is tantalizing in real life and the virtual court.
So as the great Parker Fleming did last season, I endeavored on a 2K season simulation focused on our beloved Memphis Grizzlies. Before we get to the results here are a few disclaimers, storylines and rules that went into the simulation:
- There is no playoff expectation this season, so the “What To Watch For” is whether we convey our pick to Boston this year or lose it next season.
- 2K decided to cut Bruno Caboclo and keep Ivan Rabb. I decided to reverse the scenario because that seems to be the more realistic outcome heading into the season.
- I accepted no trades nor offered any up, although it should be a guarantee that Andre Iguodala will be traded before the trade deadline.
- The starting lineup was defaulted as Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jonas Valanciunas.
While not accepted, here are some of the more interesting trade offers sent:
Grizzlies receive: Kent Bazemore and 2024 second round pick
Trailblazers receive: Andre Iguodala
This was tempting as the first offer received and a good deal for both sides.
Grizzlies receive: Hassan Whiteside and Zach Collins
Trailblazers receive: Jonas Valanciunas and Jae Crowder
A clear win immediately for Portland. If I am Memphis, I want no part of Whiteside on the court or in the locker room. Also don't see a scenario that Portland includes Collins in this kind of deal.
Grizzlies receive: Buddy Hield and Cory Joseph
Kings receive: Valanciunas and De’Anthony Melton
I would say Hield would never be included in this deal. Also what’s up with digital Vlade’s obsession with big men?
Grizzlies receive: Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder
Thunder receive: Valanciunas and Iguodala
Not sure the motive for Sam Presti here. This one would be very tempting, but I like Jonas a hair more than Adams.
All of the trade offers had three players in common for Memphis; they were only ever asking for JV, AI and Josh Jackson as the center pieces of deals. It’s obvious why teams want Iguodala, Valanciunas is the best player available for other teams and Josh Jackson is probably worth the risk of him reaching his potential.
The Grizzlies managed to stay healthy until after the trade deadline, but then injuries began to hit.
Josh Jackson tore his right MCL and missed 10 weeks.
Dillon Brooks sprained his left knee and missed 2 weeks
Jae Crowder sprained his left foot and missed 2 weeks
Dillon Brooks had right knee tendinitis and missed 6 weeks
Bruno Caboclo broke his right elbow and missed 10 weeks
Ja Morant sprained his left ankle and missed 2 weeks
Ja Morant: 20.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 6.5 apg, 1.3 stls
Jonas Valanciunas: 17.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.3 blks
Jaren Jackson Jr.: 15.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 0.7 stls, 1.7 blks
Jae Crowder: 12.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.7 stls
Josh Jackson: 12.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.7 stls
Grayson Allen: 10.2 ppg
Brandon Clarke: 6.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.5 blks
The Grizzlies finished with a 31-51 record which landed them dead last in the Western Conference but 6th worst in the NBA.
In the 9 games that Ja Morant missed, the Grizzlies managed a 6-3 record with Tyus Jones starting at the point.
Ja Morant won Rookie of the Year and finished on the All Rookie 1st Team. The other awards were as follows:
MVP: Lebron James
Sixth Man: DeAngelo Russell
Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard
Most Improved: Terry Rozier
Coach of the Year: Frank Vogel
The Grizzlies had the sixth best odds in the Draft Lottery and ended up with the 6th pick, which means they conveyed their pick to Boston in the 2020 NBA Draft.