The Memphis Grizzlies play in one of the toughest NBA conferences that we’ve seen in a long time. At 20-20, the Grizzlies hold the same winning percentage as the 4th place team in the Eastern Conference. But they’re in the west, and as a result, they’re fighting for a 10th place position and a spot in the play-in tournament.
One of the reasons why the Western Conference is so tough is that everybody is competing against one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA, LeBron James.
James, however, recently went down with a high ankle sprain. This will cause him to miss weeks of basketball and could prove to be costly down the road for his team in the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Lakers have already shown that they can’t survive without him, losing each of their last three games and dropping themselves down to 4th place in the wicked west.
How are the Memphis Grizzlies affected by LeBron James’ injury?
It may not seem so direct, but LeBron’s injury actually does have a ripple effect across the entire NBA. More notably, we’ll see this ripple effect shoot straight down to teams placed lower in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies are currently in 10th place and an injury to James will not impact their chances to reach the NBA Playoffs or the play-in tournament, but it could affect their chances in the play-in tournament. Here’s how.
As I’ve said, this Lakers team struggles without LeBron James. In a game against the New Orleans Pelicans, LA shot 48% from 3-point range and still managed to lose the game by 17 points. For those who don’t know deep basketball statistics, that’s a really bad look for this team.
If they can’t beat a lower-tier team in their conference while shooting 48% from downtown, this could be a rough few weeks without their superstar.
And this rough few weeks means a few things.
For starters, they likely will not finish as a top seed in the conference. Instead, they could shoot all the way down to 7th place or worse, leading them to a play-in tournament. They’re only 4 games out currently and don’t look like they have what it takes to win without James.
If the Grizzlies played in the play-in tournament, they’d likely be a 9 or 10 seed. This means that they’d have to play one of the higher seeds to make the playoffs. This would give the Grizz a very strong chance of having to come up against a Lakers team that will have LeBron James back in the lineup come playoff time.
Obviously, Taylor Jenkins, Ja Morant, and anybody involved with the Memphis Grizzlies will be hoping that this doesn’t come to fruition, but if it does, it could be bad news for the Memphis Grizzlies.