The Memphis Grizzlies have been one of the darlings of NBA media throughout the offseason. That was to be expected with the ongoing off the court issues for star point guard Ja Morant; his most recent headlines were the NBA and Adam Silver officially handing down a 25-game suspension to start next season. The punishment has been highly polarizing with some saying it isn’t enough games while others are complaining that it is way too many. Either way, the Grizzlies have been spending this offseason trying to brainstorm ways to survive during the 25 games that they will be without Morant. They found one solution by trading for former Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, although they did deal Tyus Jones in the process. Smart will bring a toughness to the Grizzlies that their young roster needs, as well as veteran addition Derrick Rose who signed a two-year contract in NBA free agency. Nevertheless, 2023 NBA Summer League also presents an opportunity to learn if any other young guys can come help contribute next year. After summer league is over, the Grizzlies will have learned that Kenneth Lofton Jr and David Roddy can be huge helps next season while Ja Morant is out.
Kenneth Lofton Jr has been a highly anticipated young guy around the Grizzlies for quite some time, as well as David Roddy. Both saw some NBA playing time last year for the Grizzlies, although those minutes figure to increase this season. In order to survive the suspension to Morant, the Grizzlies will need all hands on deck if they want to stay afloat in the playoff race. This suggests that guys like Roddy and Lofton Jr will be relied upon more than they have been in the past. There is nobody thinking that either guy will become starters and regularly posting upwards of 30 minutes; still, Lofton Jr and Roddy have a golden opportunity to become rotation guys and even earn minutes when Morant returns. If 2023 NBA Summer League is any indication, then the Grizzlies will have learned that they can plan on counting on Kenneth Lofton Jr and David Roddy once the season begins.
*Stats via NBA
Kenneth Lofton Jr is ready for big minutes
Out of David Roddy and Kenneth Lofton Jr, the latter is ready to come into next season and make a serious difference for the Grizzlies. Lofton Jr is showing in NBA Summer League that he has an extensive bag and can score from all three levels. Lofton Jr is averaging 20.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.7 steals through three games this summer. He is also posting these numbers on very efficient shooting; he is shooting 57.9% from the field and 41.7% from the three-point line. Grizzlies fans and brass have to be salivating at Lofton’s production so far, as it is very easy to envision him doing the same during the NBA regular season.
The biggest knock on Lofton Jr has always been his size and stature; he is definitely undersized for an NBA big and is on the heftier side. However, he has consistently shown that he knows how to use his size to his advantage and his strength in particular is a matchup nightmare against opposing defenders. This has been on full display throughout NBA Summer League, as the second-year player has been demonstrating the ability to bully both sophomore and rookie players. The Grizzlies obvious leader through summer league so far, Lofton Jr is building himself a case to be a leader on the Grizzlies regular season roster as well. As long as these numbers keep up, there is no doubt that he will have a shot.
David Roddy can be a rotational guy
David Roddy has not put up the same type of numbers as Lofton Jr, but he has shown that he is an all-around player. Through three games he is averaging 11.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. The most impressive number out of these statistics is the 6.0 rebounds per game, as Roddy is only 6’4. Stocky like Lofton Jr, Roddy will be able to impose mismatch issues for opposing teams with the physicality he will be able to bring to a position that is normally not battling around the rim. His three-point percentage in summer league leaves a lot to be desired, although his output in the regular season last year was much better, so there is not much concern there.
Overall, the Grizzlies will need a team effort from their guards in particular throughout the 25-game suspension for Morant. While Lofton Jr will get plenty of opportunity, Roddy might be playing a more pivotal role in helping the Grizzlies guards combine to make up for Morant’s absence. Stay tuned into the rest of NBA Summer league and then the NBA offseason for any more updates on David Roddy or Kenneth Lofton Jr, although expect them to be ready to make an impact on the regular season roster once fall rolls around.
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