The Memphis Grizzlies have struggled their way to three consecutive losses, and now, the bad news just keeps coming. The team announced Tuesday that starting center Steven Adams will miss three to five weeks with a sprained PCL, which he suffered in Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
Adams is among the more durable players in all of basketball. He played in 70 or more games in each of his first six seasons, and last season, his first as a Grizzly, he gave Memphis 76 games. This season, he’d missed only four games before getting injured, so his absence is notable in the context of his career.
It’s also potentially damaging to a Memphis team that currently holds the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Their offense, which ranks 22nd in 3-point percentage, relies on its excellent 33.1 percent offensive rebounding rate to generate half-court offense. Smaller lineups featuring Jaren Jackson Jr. at center rather than power forward might be able to compensate with superior shooting and ball-handling, but that not only compromises their offensive identity, but risks their No. 1-ranked defense as well.
Memphis’ success on the offensive glass — 13.3 boards on that end of the floor, which trails only the Knicks’ 13.4 in the NBA — is led by Adams’ 5.1 per game. No other Grizzly is in the top 50, and so it will be key to see how Memphis addresses that gap.
This season has just been one injury after another for the Grizzlies. Jackson started the year hurt, and Desmond Bane quickly joined him. Ja Morant typically misses a meaningful amount of games due to injury thanks in part to his aggressive playing style, and this season, he’s already missed eight games. Now Memphis, trying to catch the No. 1 seeded Nuggets, will have to move on without a locker room leader and essential element of their starting lineup for the next month or so.