The injury virus just won’t stop biting Grizzlies.
Memphis’s depth took another big hit after Ja Morant injured his ankle in a Dec. 28 game against the Nets. The Grizzlies, already grappling with the absences of Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) and Justise Winslow (hip), must now find a way to survive a long period without the 2019-2020 Rookie of the Year winner.
What’s next for the Memphis star? Here’s everything we know about Morant’s injury and the latest news on when he could return to the pitch.
MORE: Trae Young and Grayson Allen go wild over alleged triggering incident
What is Ja Morant’s injury?
In the second quarter of the Grizzlies-Nets game, Morant attempted to block a jump shot from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Morant landed at the foot of Luwawu-Cabarrot and immediately jumped off the ground. He was finally taken to the locker room in a wheelchair.
Morant was later excluded for the rest of the competition with a sprained left ankle. The first x-rays showed Morant avoided a fracture, and the Grizzlies announced on December 29 that Morant had suffered a grade 2 ankle sprain.
How long will Ja Morant be away?
Memphis estimates Morant will be out for three to five weeks. Other players who suffered Grade 2 ankle sprains managed to come back in an average of 19 days, so there is some hope Morant can make a quick comeback.
Ja Morant joins an impressive roster of players to support G2 ankle sprains at some point in their careers, including playmakers Kyle Lowry, Deron Williams, Mike Conley and Kemba Walker. The average time missed was ~ 19 days and ~ 8 games
– Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) December 29, 2020
Here’s a look at when Morant might be available to join the starting lineup based on the Grizzlies timeline:
|January 20||at Trail Blazers|
|22 january||at Trail Blazers|
|24 january||against Kings|
|25 january||against Kings|
|January 27||vs Bulls|
|January 30||to the Spurs|
|February 1||to the Spurs|
|February 2||at Pacers|
What’s next for the Grizzlies?
Even if Morant is only left with three weeks of action, it would leave the Grizzlies without their best player for 11 games. Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins will need to be creative in his rotation in order to avoid a significant drop in the standings.
The Grizzlies don’t have another player on their roster who can create for himself and others like Morant, so several guys will have to step up. Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Clarke will all see their use percentages climb over the next few weeks, and backing point guard Tyus Jones should receive a big boost within minutes.
In the ruthless Western Conference, a bad 11-game streak could be enough to destroy a team’s playoff hopes. Remember, this is a 72 game season. We’re talking about 15-20% of the entire schedule here depending on how long Morant is stuck on the bench.
Memphis will keep the long-term vision and not rush Morant until he’s ready. This is the best for the future of the franchise. Unfortunately, that could also mean missing the 2021 NBA Playoffs.