The Memphis Grizzlies season came to its conclusion on Wednesday night after a loss to the Utah Jazz. Despite the tough outcome, the season was a resounding success for this young Grizzlies team. They gained experience through a vigorous 5-game series against the league’s best team, as well as two big-time wins in the inaugural play-in tournament over the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors.
Friday, the media had a chance to speak to the following:
- Zach Kleiman
- Taylor Jenkins
- Ja Morant
- Jaren Jackson Jr.
- Jonas Valanciunas
- Desmond Bane
- Kyle Anderson
- Dillon Brooks
Here are the biggest takeaways from the exit interviews.
Staying Locked In
The Memphis Grizzlies are focused on getting better right from the start of the offseason. All the players are ready for the opportunity to get better this offseason.
Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. said they were going to work on everything when it comes to their games. Wanting to surprise people? That’s probably the M.O., but they’re also just looking to do whatever it takes to take the next level of the games.
There were more specifics here as well. Jonas Valanciunas wants to focus on his long range shot and on staying in good, fit shape. In regards to the shot, Valanciunas added that with the jumper, it’d open up the floor more for drivers.
Dillon Brooks told the media he was going to take a few weeks off to recover, watch film and reflect on his season, and watch the playoff games to see what it takes to get to that level. He noted that he’s going to work a lot on his 3-point shot, as they couldn’t match Utah’s firepower from deep by makes and by volume. In addition, ball-handling and playmaking are other ways he’s looking to improve.
Desmond Bane’s focus in the offseason is working on his shot and his ball-handling. He also told the media he’ll be playing in a few games in the Vegas Summer League in August.
In the two Zoom’s since Utah’s loss, the players have emphasized how they’re locked in to make strides in the offseason.
Just the Beginning
At the beginning of the interview, Zach Kleiman said his goal is to bring the Memphis Grizzlies its first championship. A big question for a lot of these people is what they think they need to get to that point.
The consensus there was growth.
Valanciunas reminded everyone that this team started from 0 — new coach, new front office, and an all new team. In the second year together, they made the playoffs. It’s absolutely fair to say that it’s the next step, especially now that they got that experience under their belts and there will be a healthy offseason.
That vision is shared up and down — from Zach Kleiman down the roster. Decisions will be made at the draft and at the free agency period, but the newly-extended GM did stress how impactful it’ll be to have an offseason with lightened COVID restrictions.
There’s that growth mindset in Memphis, because this is only the beginning.
All eyes on Jaren Jackson Jr.
Two phrases were used to describe Jaren Jackson Jr. in yesterday’s exit interviews:
- Special talent.
- Franchise cornerstone.
There’s excitement around Jackson. He got better each and every game throughout his return. The big excitement is around the fact that he’ll get a healthy offseason to work on his game. After his rookie season, he was rehabbing a quad injury — and we know what went down after his sophomore year. This is the first time he’ll get an offseason where he’s not rehabbing an injury.
That's big time.
His teammates, Coach Jenkins, and Kleiman all recognize the importance of it, and they’re excited to see what he could do in that time. However, there’s no one more excited to get back in the lab than Jackson himself. He said he’s looking to find his own “niche” and “vibe” to guide him where he wants to go.
And now we await to see how this all shapes out. It could be a game-changer for him and for this franchise.
Jackson left us with this special nugget: “I hope there’s no ceiling.”
- Ja Morant has stayed confident in his shot, and doesn’t care about what any outside person has to say about his game. He’s going to keep letting it fly.
- There was a pretty decent vibe that Justise Winslow may be back in the fold next season.
- Zach Kleiman is still high on Brandon Clarke, and they’re “optimistic on what he can be moving forward.” He did point to injuries, but also added that there were just a lot of playable guys that had to be shuffled in and out of the rotation.
- Dillon Brooks is still deciding on Team Canada, after playing a heavy load of minutes in the postseason and in the second half schedule of the regular season. He’s also a king at Booray:
Dillon Brooks said his winnings from Booray on the flight home will pay for his trip to Las Vegas this offseason.— Drew Hill (@DrewHill_DM) June 4, 2021
- Jonas Valanciunas’ wife designed his sick wolf jacket, and she is his stylist.
Thank you for sticking with GBB throughout the season, and we’re excited to bring you excellent offseason content.