The NBA announced today that Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins has been named the Western Conference Coach of the Month for December of 2021. The Grizzlies went an impressive 12-4 for the month, knocking off teams like the Los Angeles Lakers (twice), the Phoenix Suns, the Miami Heat, and the Philadelphia 76ers. Only the Utah Jazz at 12-3 had a better win percentage for the month, and the Jazz have not dealt with the same issues with Health and Safety Protocols/injuries as the Grizzlies have. Add in the fact that the Jazz were supposed to be a contender this season, and that Memphis is once again overachieving, and Jenkins is more than deserving of this honor.
As I wrote about at Christmas time, Taylor Jenkins should have solidified his place as Grizzlies Head Coach at this stage. He is a top-10 coach in the NBA at this stage, and it isn’t being biased. It is a statement of fact. In an offseason where, once again, the franchise took perceived steps back in terms of veteran presence/impact with an eye to the future, the roster has only gotten better. Ja Morant should be an All-Star, and may be an All-NBA honoree this season. Desmond Bane has become a bonafide starting 2 guard in the league, and he and Morant together are already one of the league’s best starting back courts. Jaren Jackson Jr., despite shooting struggles, has progressed as a defender and overall is showing growth in his game.
The key word is “growth” - and there are even more examples up and down the Grizzlies. Killian Tillie and John Konchar going from undrafted to legit NBA players. De’Anthony Melton going from throw-in in a cost-cutting trade to an important rotation piece for a playoff team. On and on we could go, but the fact remains that for a roster that has seen as much turnover (only three players remain from the previous coaching/front office staff) in these last three years as Memphis to be at this stage of this rebuild takes more than one ultra-talented player. While that stroke of luck that brought Ja Morant to Memphis matters immensely, the presence of Taylor Jenkins matters too.
Congratulations, Coach Jenkins. You deserve it.