On Tuesday afternoon the Memphis Grizzlies provided an update on the condition of Ja Morant’s injured ankle. It...isn’t good news. But it isn’t as bad as it could have been.
Morant was playing the best basketball of his young career prior to the injury. Even including the injury-shortened game against the Brooklyn Nets Monday night (a 116-111 overtime victory for the Grizzlies) Morant is averaging 26.3 points per game on 54.5% shooting alongside 6.3 assists. Ja rolled his ankle in the second quarter and was in a noticeable amount of pain, having to be taken off the floor on a wheelchair unable to put weight on the badly sprained ankle. With the 3-5 week recovery window, it could be possible to see Ja come back around anywhere between MLK Day and Valentine’s Day. Expect Memphis to exercise caution with the reigning Rookie of the Year.
Ja Morant is of course an irreplaceable talent, and with him, Justise Winslow, Jaren Jackson Jr., and De’Anthony Melton now all on the injury/Health and Safety Protocols list (Melton on the protocol list) the team is down at least two starters (their two cornerstone pieces) and four total rotation players. In the interim (and even beyond), until both Melton and WInslow are activated (both presumably before Jackson Jr.), Head Coach Taylor Jenkins will have to get creative with rotations. The team only has one true point guard on the roster in Tyus Jones, but between Kyle Anderson, Grayson Allen, and Desmond Bane there are players who can help facilitate offense. Jenkins could opt to plug and play Tyus Jones, or he could replace Ja with Brandon Clarke, moving Kyle to the “point forward” position on the perimeter. Or he could start Desmond Bane. There are a multitude of ways Coach Jenkins could try to survive the next month or so without Ja.
The first look we will get at the Grizzlies without Morant starting will be Wednesday night in Boston against the Celtics.
Get well, Ja. It could’ve been worse...but a month without Morant in the short term could sink the play-in dreams of the Grizzlies. We’re about to learn a lot about this young Memphis team over the next 3-5 weeks.