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Memphis Grizzlies Training Camp, Preseason Preview

Training camp starts next week. What do you need to watch for?

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2022 NBA Playoffs - Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Dates to watch: Media Day (Monday 9/26), Training Camp (Tuesday 9/27-9/30)

Preseason schedule: October 1st @ Milwaukee Bucks, October 3rd vs. Orlando Magic, October 6th vs. Miami Heat, October 11th @ Orlando Magic, October 13th @ Detroit Pistons

Roster spots: 16 — (18 with two-way spots Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Vince Williams)

Locked starting spots: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Steven Adams

Locked rotation spots: Tyus Jones, Brandon Clarke, Ziaire Williams, John Konchar

Injuries: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Foot surgery recovery), Danny Green (ACL/LCL surgery recovery)

With training camp starting tomorrow, the 2022-23 season is officially underway. For the Memphis Grizzlies, they’ll be looking to build upon their 56-26 season in hopes of bringing the first-ever championship to Memphis.

They will have a challenging path to reach their goals this season, as the Western Conference has loaded up once again. Several teams will be having some stars return after missing the entire year last season to injury. A few other teams made moves to bolster their roster and their playoff/championship chances.

The Grizzlies are used to this though and have shown their resiliency time and time again over the past several seasons. They’ve also shown where they stand among the league’s elite, and a roster with very little turnover should be in the conversation once again. With training camp and preseason underway, what storylines should you monitor over the next couple weeks?

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors - Game Six Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Jaren Jackson Jr. Injury Timeline

On June 30th, Jaren Jackson Jr. was deemed out for 4-6 months after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. That timeline ranges anywhere between Halloween and the 1st of the 2023 calendar year. In Monday’s Media Day, we should have a more clear answer of when he should expect him to return.

In the meantime, it’s time for the next man up. The Grizzlies will need someone to fill in his spot in the starting lineup. How Taylor Jenkins and his coaching staff approach and experiment these lineups will be on display during training camp.

Brandon Clarke may end up being the first player to get a shot at earning the starting 4 job on opening night. His production and role last season warrant an increase in playing time, especially in Jackson’s absence. However, it wouldn’t be shocking for the Grizzlies to keep him off the bench, so they could still have his energetic pop with the second unit.

When it comes to experimentation here, Taylor Jenkins could opt to throw Ziaire Williams into the starting lineup, which would make Dillon Brooks the de facto 4. The Grizzlies have shown a lot of confidence in Williams over the past year, so this option wouldn’t be surprising. I wouldn’t worry too much about position labels here, as Dillon Brooks has shown the ability to play up a position.

If the Grizzlies want to maintain a similar lineup structure — Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Dillon Brooks at positions 1-3, with a floor-spacer at the 4 — a young big man has an opportunity to secure a significant role at the start of the season.

Which leads into the next storyline…

2022 NBA Summer League - Memphis Grizzlies v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

Which young forward will earn minutes?

The Grizzlies currently have several young forwards competing for minutes in the back-end of the rotation, and possibly in the starting lineup.

Xavier Tillman and Killian Tillie have the leg up on this competition, in terms of experience. Being with the team since the 2020-21 season, they possess more familiarity in the system. In addition, Taylor Jenkins has shown confidence in entrusting them with larger roles — as Tillman started in the postseason for several games, and Tillie played a starting role during the Grizzlies’ COVID-19 outbreak at the beginning of 2022.

Santi Aldama is another sneaky name in this race. He was more poised in Summer League action, demonstrating a better understanding of where to find his shots, while also shooting better from downtown. He also did a great job of creating defensive events in Summer League as well. A sophomore surge could put him in the rotation, as he does have the size advantage over the rest of the players in this race.

Jake LaRavia and David Roddy could also be in line for minutes early in their NBA careers. Taylor Jenkins has expressed he isn’t afraid to play his rookies, and that trust has parlayed into young guys contributing in big moments. The Grizzlies could repeat this trend with LaRavia and Roddy, who have flashed good offensive skills and have made plays on both sides of the ball.

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

The Grizzlies have 16 players on the main roster. Who’s crunched out?

The Grizzlies will need to make a difficult roster decision before opening night in a few weeks.

Two names to watch here are Danny Green and Killian Tillie.

I doubt Green is the player on the block here, as there have been reports on mutual excitement on bringing the veteran into the mix to serve as a veteran leader. He may not be available until after the All-Star break. However, the Grizzlies could seek his veteran wisdom over the course of the year, waiting for his 3-and-D services around the postseason.

Killian Tillie’s season ended last year due to a back injury. He also didn’t suit up in Summer League, though he was around the team for both the Las Vegas and Utah stretches. When healthy, he’s flashed solid 3-and-D upside for a bench role. However, with a roster crunch and similar players in the mix now, he could be the odd man out here.

If it’s not any of these 2 players, the Grizzlies could execute a deal that sends a player elsewhere in exchange for a second-round pick or cash.

2022 Las Vegas Summer League - Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Who flashes improvements in preseason?

Now that we’re close to in-game action, the Grizzlies will have the chance to showcase the work they put in during the offseason.

Last year, Ja Morant and Desmond Bane used preseason to showcase their enhanced scoring chops early. What’s going to be on display in preseason this time around?

I’m not going to jump to speculation, but with a young team on deck, there are a number of possibilities for internal improvement. Many people will look at how Ziaire Williams performs in Summer League to gauge his improvement.

Regardless of who it is, this team illustrates a “never satisfied” attitude, which should yield further growth for this team.

Tune in with Grizzly Bear Blues for all your Grizzlies coverage throughout the 2022-23 season.

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