ESPN has finished releasing their 2022-23 season NBA player rankings, and for the first time ever, the Memphis Grizzlies landed five players on the list. The rankings usually cause a lot of debate within NBA communities, and this year was no different. In the grand scheme of things, these rankings are not important, but it’s always good to see how much credit the players are getting around the country.
Ja Morant - 9th
Starting with the highest ranked Grizzly, Ja Morant ranked number nine on the list. Morant’s ranking is the highest for the Grizzlies since Marc Gasol was 10th in 2015. The NBA’s MIP was also one of the largest risers on the list, moving up 22 spots from number 31 last season.
After averaging a career-high 27.4 ppg and leading the Grizzlies to the 2nd seed in the playoffs, it was no surprise that he was near the top of the list. Based on his off-season work ethic, I would not be surprised if Morant is even higher on the list next season.
The only players ranked ahead of Morant going into this season we’re Giannis Antetokounpo, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Stephen Curry, Lebron James, Jayson Tatum, and Kevin Durant. He was also ranked ahead of NBA superstars like James Harden and Kawhi Leonard. His ranking was honestly higher than I expected, but I think the numbers prove he deserves it.
Jaren Jackson Jr. - 53rd
Jaren Jackson Jr. comes in at number 53 in this year's rankings, moving up 18 spots from 71st last season. Jackson’s defensive prowess earned him the NBA’s lead in blocks and a First-Team All-Defense selection last season, and it’s clear that his value is being recognized.
Jackson Jr. being ranked at 53 does seem a little low to me, but I believe part of that is because of his injury concerns and his shooting struggles last season. If he can stay healthy, stay out of foul trouble, and find his shot from three again this season, there is no doubt that he will be higher next season.
His ranking put him just behind Jamal Murray, DeAndre Ayton, and Jarrett Allen, and just ahead of Tobias Harris, De’Aaron Fox, and his high school teammate Jordan Poole.
Desmond Bane - 68th
Desmond Bane comes in at number 68 after being unranked following his rookie season. His scoring jump to just above 18 PPG and efficient 3-point shooting has definitely earned him some recognition around the league.
His ranking is still lower than I expected for someone who shot over 43% from three last season, but Bane is still young so it’s easy for people to go with more established players ahead of him.
Bane’s ranking puts him just behind former MVP Russell Westbrook, Myles Turner, and Jalen Brunson. He is ranked just ahead of Spencer Dinwiddie, Al Horford, and Julius Randle.
Dillon Brooks - 77th
Dillon Brooks was the only Grizzly who did not make a huge jump on the list, but that is to be expected considering how much time he missed during the 2021-22 season. Brooks only played in 32 games last season due to various injuries. Brooks still managed to average over 18 PPG when he played, but he really did not have a chance to move up from last year’s rankings.
Going into the last year of his contract, I would expect an even more determined Dillon Brooks than we have seen in the past. It could result in one of the best years of his career as long as he focuses on better shot selection and efficiency. If he can do that, he will be higher on the list next year and require a larger payday next off-season.
Brooks is ranked behind Harrison Barnes, OG Anunoby, and Ben Simmons; but just ahead of Caris Levert, Clint Capela, and Lonzo Ball.
Brandon Clarke - 94th
Clarke’s inclusion on this list was definitely surprising. It’s not that he doesn’t deserve it, but you rarely see a team’s 7th man on a list like this. However, it’s clear that Clarke’s performance in the playoffs proved his value to the rest of the league. Without him, the Grizzlies would not have made it out of the first round against the Timberwolves. After a second season where Clarke struggled, it was good to see him get back on track last season. He was one of the most efficient scorers in the league shooting 64.4 % from the floor.
Clarke’s ranking comes in right behind D’Angelo Russell, Christian Wood, and former Grizzly Mike Conley. He is ahead of 4th overall pick Keeghan Murray, Seth Curry, and Kevin Love.
Did anyone miss out?
Before the rankings came out I thought the Grizzlies could get 5 players in the top 100, but was not expecting Brandon Clarke to be the pick. I would have expected either Tyus Jones or Steven Adams to be the last Grizzly chosen, but any of them would have been worthy choices. Overall, I think that the Grizzlies should be happy with the number of players on the list even if the rankings aren’t the best.