Going back as far as I can remember - being around the Memphis Grizzlies organization, combined with fan reaction — when the schedule released, it could be a bad time. The Grizzlies have never had the energy around the franchise that screamed “we want to watch this,” from a national TV perspective. Combine that throwback style of basketball with from the Core Four era, a small market, and you have a team that didn’t see National Television throughout it’s golden years.
Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors were “more entertaining” nationally, and if the Grizzlies were to see the spotlight in the last decade, it was usually overshadowed by the “Lob City” Los Angeles Clippers. More advanced in terms of talent, Grit ‘N’ Grind was a blessing to the city to Memphis, but wasn’t necessarily “fun” to watch for the casual NBA fan.
In a matter of two seasons, the Grizzlies went from a Grit ‘N’ Grind, to Pace and Space with a brand new Ferrari - that Ferrari being Grizzlies Point Guard and Rookie of the Year Ja Morant and second year Head Coach Taylor Jenkins.
An era where majority of the Grizzlies national TV games came from NBA Playoff matchups, to a team that could see 15-20 matchups on national TV in just the regular season alone. A young core of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke and many more sit as one of the more intriguing offseason stories. How do I come to that number in terms of national TV games? Who would the Grizzlies matchup great against in order to live up to that national TV “hype?”
The mathematics behind the Grizzlies National TV Games:
Again, no schedules have been released, but going off of previous NBA seasons, the Grizzlies sit in a unique situation based upon age, potential and hype. A good comparison could be Anthony Davis’ final year in New Orleans during the 2018-19 a season in which the Pelicans garnered 20 national TV games. Another good comparison would be Giannis Antetokounmpo during that same season (then 23 years old) get those national TV games due to their names alone. The Bucks saw 24 national TV games during that 2018-19 season.
For the Grizzlies, they have several names verses with the two examples above. Jaren Jackson Jr. entering his third season, and Ja Morant looking to build on a Rookie of the Year campaign, the Grizzlies scream “put this on TV for everyone.”
This 2021 season will see only 72 games due to scheduling, and will see a format we have never seen before. Similar to the MLB “series” format, it seems that the NBA will run a similar format just going off of preseason scheduling. Memphis will play their first two preseason games in Minnesota against the Timberwolves starting December 12th. Then, travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks for their final two preseason games.
National TV games, most of the time scream of premier matchups, and Memphis matches up with several young NBA teams really well, and even some of the older teams. The young Grizzlies could make into thrilling matchups. What are some games that could feature Memphis on national TV this upcoming season?
Matchups worthy of National TV spotlight:
There is no secret that this next generation of Memphis Grizzlies already has some rivalries in the works. Let’s knock these exiting matchups that could potentially seen national TV in 2021.
- Memphis vs. New Orleans:
Alright, let’s get the obvious answer out of the way. From a national perspective, Zion Williamson verses Ja Morant will always be there - no matter whom surrounds the two on their respective teams. Also, the two teams still matchup well following a exciting and quick offseason.
New Orleans now has a solid big man in Steven Adams, who they acquired via trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Oh, and the Pelicans hired a new Head Coach Stan Van Gundy over the offseason. Last season, the Pelicans won all three head-to-head matchups against the Grizzlies. There is competitive grudge between Pelicans fans and Grizzlies fans - so this matchup is a no brainer.
- Grizzlies vs. Hawks:
Another “national” narrative between these two franchises. Two franchises into two unique situations. The Hawks made solid offseason acquisitions, showing they’re in a clear “win now” mode by acquiring Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rajon Rando, and Danilo Gallinari in free agency to put around Trae Young, and John Collins.
Memphis swept the season series last season against the Hawks. Two young point guards in Morant and Young matching up against one another is a fantastic show. Now, the Hawks having more support on the wings, make this matchup more intriguing.
- Grizzlies vs. Trail Blazers:
A matchup that ended in the first ever “play-in” game in NBA history last season in the Orlando Bubble, this looks to be yet another fun matchup featuring the Grizzlies. The veteran point guard Damian Lillard going up against a younger version of himself in Ja Morant. Both fiery competitors, and show up night in and out.
Portland made some roster adjustments over the offseason, signing Derrick Jones Jr., and trading with the Houston Rockets to acquire Robert Covington — strengthening their wing defense. The Grizzlies and Trail Blazers split their regular season series last season each winning one on the road. From a storyline standpoint alone, the Blazers and Grizzlies should be a lock for a national TV matchup this upcoming season.