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How Does Ja Morant Affect The Grizzlies’ NBA Odds?

By Jeff Stinger

Now that the NBA announced the Ja Morant suspension, one of the points basketball fans and bettors want to know is how it affects the Grizzlies’ 2023-24 NBA odds. It’s evident that the franchise put their future and title hopes in the hands of the 23-year-old. His suspension could suspend the team’s championship plans and set their strategy a few steps back. With that in mind, let’s go over the storyline’s important points and how it pans out for the franchise moving forward.

Memphis Grizzlies Odds without Ja Morant

A Costly Suspension

The league required Morant to sideline the first 25 games of the upcoming season. This decision was announced shortly after the Denver Nuggets won the 2023 Championship title. The suspension was not unexpected for an organization that sparked headlines for players’ off-court matters and on-court presence.

Morant is unarguably the Grizzlies’ biggest star. He was their first NBA Rookie of the Year in 2020 and the 2022 NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year. His jersey is rated among the NBA’s top-ten best sellers on the league website for the latter half of the 2022-23 season, while Nike offered the young guard a signature shoe deal.

However, the Crestwood product’s off-the-court actions faced backlash. The social media posts portrayed questionable decisions. Morant flashed a handgun not once, but twice over a three-month period. He first pulled a pistol out on March 4, while the second came after an eight-game suspension in March that allowed him to return to the playoffs.

Team Impact

In terms of leading the Championship race, the Grizzlies still sit at a respectable +2,160 winners, which is well within the top ten. We all know that the Grizzlies will remain capable without him. We’ve seen the squad write positive results with names like Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, and Steven Adams. Memphis was 11-10 in 2022-23 without their star guard. Although Memphis is an entirely different team without the 2019 second-overall pick, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for head coach Taylor Jenkins.

Morant is allowed to be around the team and the facilities, which should help out with his mental health situation. Fans hope this will improve and could continue to help the team improve with him on and off the court. Ja is an absolute star, there’s no doubt about that. Any advanced metric tells he is the heart and soul of the team’s offense.

We know the team can get by 25 games without him. The identity of the roster changes without the guard, but not for the worse. In that early 10-2 stretch last season, Memphis logged respectable figures with outlier great No. 1 Defensive EGF and turnover rate. The squad improved the physicality and controlled the interior on both ends of the floor. The results were similar in the late-season stretch. Memphis has proven it can play in more ways than one to win, and both Bane and Jackson are likely to step up early into the season with bigger roles.

It’s not going to be easy for the team. The Grizzlies can’t just work their way up to a top-two seed without their star player. More than that, the team needs to fill in the void left by Brandon Clarke–a key part of that imposing interior for the entire campaign.

Ultimately, it would be a mistake to write off this versatile and well-coached unit. They take a step back without Morant but have shown they can win. Memphis could accomplish another surprising run and end up a threat to the top guns in the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

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