3 players most to blame for the Grizzlies’ disappointing 0-6 start

The Memphis Grizzlies are the worst team in the NBA right now. How?
Marcus Smart, Memphis Grizzlies
Marcus Smart, Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages
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The Memphis Grizzlies are stuck between a rock and a hard place with the NBA-mandated absence of Ja Morant and the injury-related absence of Steven Adams. Oh, lest we forget, Brandon Clarke is still hurt, too. Oh, and Santi Aldama. That about covers it.

Still, despite the circumstances mounted against them, nobody would have predicted an 0-6 start for the Grizzlies. The team has been mostly successful without Morant in the past and Memphis survived — not thrived, but at least survived — without Adams for a large chunk of last season.

So, what's going on? The Grizzlies rank dead last in offensive rating and 19th in defense, despite employing the last two Defensive Player of the Year winners. Memphis is below average on the glass, with an offense that is struggling mightily to produce quality looks. It's hard to win games when your team can't pressure the rim or consistently gain advantages on the perimeter.

It's not like Memphis is losing to heavy-hitters, either. It's easy to excuse losses to Denver, Dallas, and New Orleans. But Utah? Washington? Portland, without Scoot Henderson, after five straight losses? You can't pull that one out?

The Desmond Bane-Jaren Jackson Jr. duo has been mostly excellent, but the roster around them has failed spectacularly. It's one thing to miss your best player. It's another to compound that absence with unreliable shooting, spotty wing play, and an ill-timed spate of injuries in the frontcourt.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but here are three players who most deserve the negative spotlight as Memphis attempts to turn its season around.

3. Ja Morant

Let's get it out of the way.

Morant isn't hurt. He's not unavoidably detained. He's suspended for 25 games because he made a completely avoidable, boneheaded decision on social media. His decision to wield a firearm on Instagram, which straddles the line between silly and dangerous (and it definitely impacts Adam Silver's NBA brand image), could cost the Grizzlies a season of contention.

It's important for Morant to learn his lesson and avoid such foolishness in the future. This is already the second suspension he's serving for making plain dumb decisions off the court. He is the anchor that tethers Memphis to competitiveness. He should live his life and enjoy the NBA lifestyle all he wants, but he has to be smart about it. There's a fine line between fun and something far more sinister.

The Grizzlies' offense continues to stall because there simply isn't enough firepower. The wing rotation has been completely unreliable, especially from 3-point range, and the generative engine of Marcus Smart and Desmond Bane isn't powerful enough to offset the inadequacy of other players on the floor. Bane and JJJ have put up numbers on a regular basis, but the Grizzlies' offense tends to sputter when the ball rotates away from them. The lack of consistent rim pressure has been noticeable, too. That's what you need Morant for.

Memphis won't have the worst offense in the NBA once Morant returns, but he's not going to be back until late December. Will the Grizzlies still have a chance to rebound at that point? Not if their current losing streak continues much longer.