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Salt Lake City Summer League Preview: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz

The Grizzlies 2024 rookie class will be on full display Monday, as they start their slate of Summer League play against the Jazz.
By Luke Hatmaker - July 8, 2024, 8:00 am - 0 comments

When: 8:00 PM CST, Monday, July 8th, 2024

Where: Salt Lake City Summer League, Delta Center, Salt Lake City, UT

How to Watch/Stream: Grind City Media Mobile App

Almost as if they never even left huh? At least that’s how it feels. Since tonight the Memphis Grizzlies will play basketball.

Well an iteration of them at least.

That marks the first time in 85 days. 85 days since some form of the team saw a basketball court. Heck, the Finals only ended 21 days ago.

So, as I said… Feels like basketball never left.

And it sure feels good doesn’t it? In fact, I know some that consider the NBA Summer League “the most wonderful time of the year” as it were.

Some folks have December and Christmas. Others? It’s July and that Salt Lake City/Vegas pairing.

It’s without question an exciting time to be a fan of hoops. Both for your casual fans and lifers alike. It’s the first time casual fans are seeing their team’s rookie class in action most likely.

And for the diehard?

Well, Summer League kickstarts our basketball obsessions… And let’s us start to forecast—a futile effort—the entire season’s possibilities.

Why futile? Because odds are only a handful of guys will contribute to actual winning. At least in the regular season. Such is Summer League.

Now, are the Grizzlies the exception to the rule here? One could argue yes, with the proven track record of their in-house development.

It’s not surprising to see several guys balling out in Summer League wind up with main roster minutes. Not at this point.

As such, the Grizzlies Summer League roster has become one worth keeping an eye on in recent seasons. And I expect this year to follow suite more so than others.

Will any of the rookies have enough of an impact to crack Memphis’ main rotation? (Spoiler alert: some will have to.) Will past standouts continue their upward trajectory? Who will be the unknowns that explode almost demanding teams take a flier on them?

We’ll get to start answering these questions tonight. And I for one, can’t wait.

2 Things That I’m Looking Forward To…

  • The rookie trio of Zach Edey, Jaylen Wells, and Cam Spencer

For the first time in several drafts… The excitement surrounding the Grizzlies’ rookie class feels genuine.

What do I mean by that?

Well, in the past there’s always been at least one—sometimes two—of the class you have to talk yourself into. You know what I mean?

We’ll hit the five stages of grief like they’re greatest hits to convince ourselves we’re right.

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. You telling me you didn’t check all those boxes when we drafted Kennedy Chandler?

But this year’s class is different and it shows. Each player Memphis drafted addressed a team need for starters. That doesn’t always happen.

Each improved across their collegiate careers. And each also contributed to their various team’s success. Again, not always a guarantee when this team drafts.

And none embody these qualities more than Zach Edey. It all starts there.

A three year starter at Purdue, the Grizzlies drafted Edey 9th in this year’s draft. To be honest, I don’t remember a prospect this divisive in a long time. It seems everyone has an opinion on the big man.

Regardless of what those opinions may be, there’s zero denying… Zach Edey is one hell of a basketball player. You don’t win two Wooden Awards if you’re bad at basketball I promise you that.

And he figures to step into what may be the most glaring hole on Memphis’ roster… The lack of a true big. And let me tell you, they don’t get much more “true big” than Edey.

That alone would suggest he cracks the main rotation. But after deciding to pull himself from contention for the Canadian Olympic team… Well that makes me believe the team has big, immediate plans for Edey.

You can see the vision with their other two picks as well. Both Jaylen Wells and Cam Spencer were two of the best shooters in this year’s draft. Each eclipsed 40.0% from beyond the arc on over 5 attempts per game.

Considering shooting was only behind the center position when it came to “team needs”… Can you do much better than bringing in two elite, volume shooters? Not by my watch.

This is of course is all a long way to say this… There’s the chance that all three rookies have a major impact on this roster. How they perform in Summer League will be the first test. And that for one has me excited.

  • The continued development of Scotty Pippen Jr. and Trey Jemison

One of the best stories in Memphis last season? The performances of their two-way guys.

With the roster falling to injuries, the two-way guys stepped up and did so in a big way. As such, two of these two-way contracts return to the team this year. And I imagine they do so hoping to build last season’s successful campaigns…

I’m speaking of Scotty Pippen Jr. and Trey Jemison.

With 30 starts between them, the pair were how the Grizzlies stayed afloat to close out the season. At least a big reason why.

Scotty Pippen Jr. in particular made a case to be the heavy favorite to back up Ja Morant moving forward. In 21 games on Memphis’ main roster last year his stats were the following… 12.9 PTS, 3.2 REB, 4.7 AST, and 1.7 STL in 25.1 minutes per game. With 49.3/41.7/74.5 shooting splits to boot.

If he’s able to continue and develop his game with the Grizzlies on this trajectory? Well Scotty should be the next two-way guy who’s awarded with a converted contract. Following in the footsteps of Vince Williams Jr. and GG Jackson II… He’ll have earned a permanent roster spot.

As for Jemison… When Memphis couldn’t buy a rebound last season he was what stopped the bleeding. 7.4 PTS and 5.8 REB in 24.9 minutes per game over 23 appearances . He was able to give the squad good minutes and good boards.

When you only have two games of NBA experience under your belt… And that was with the Washington Wizards no less… To be able to step in and actually be serviceable in your minutes? I’d consider that a successful season for Jemison.

Now, imagine the growth he’d show after a full year in the system under his belt? That development will start in Summer League. And aside from the rookies, the developments of Pippen Jr. and Jemison sit at the very top of my watch list.

…And 1 Thing That I’m Not

  • Watching the remainder of the roster

When it comes to things that keep me nervous come Summer League… Well that list is few and far between. And if I’m being honest said list may also be a bit unnecessary.

Because what’s the ultimate point of nit-picking a Summer League roster?

It’s not going to be indicative of what the main roster will look like. In any shape form or fashion. Because at the end of the day it’s an entire different basketball product.

So who is on the Grizzlies’ Summer League roster? Other than the five players I’ve mentioned above?

Well it’s a collection of guys.

Half the roster’s composed of players already familiar with the Grizzlies system. I say familiar because over half of them saw actual NBA minutes with the team last year. That’s a rarity in summer league. And yet…

Scotty Pippen Jr. Jake LaRavia. Timmy Allen. GG Jackson II. Trey Jemison. DeJon Jarreau. Each of them logged minutes on the main roster last season.

The rest of Memphis’ Summer League squad? It’s composed of guys still fighting to claim that coveted spot on a main roster.

DJ Jeffries. Isaiah Miller. Kevon Harris. Kyle Castlin. Freddie Gillespie. These final five players may be on the outside looking in at the main rotation. Still… I don’t expect that to stop them from hooping.

Here’s what it boils down to though. The Grizzlies currently have a stacked roster. With an already over-packed depth chart, good luck finding room for anyone else. That’s the truth of it.

As such… I’m not looking forward to watching guys destined for the Hustle yet. We know the players that are in Memphis’ plans long term. That’s who’s sitting at the top of my watch list.

Photo Credit: (Robert Goddin/USA TODAY Sports)


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