Knicks vs Grizzlies Odds Preview: Class of 2019 Headlines

RJ Barrett and Ja Morant Lead Battle of Young Contenders

The 2019 NBA Draft has produced what could be the next generation of stars. Ja Morant has blossomed into a superstar. He leads his Memphis Grizzlies as a moderate favorite over draft-mate RJ Barrett’s New York Knicks. The Knicks vs Grizzlies odds preview this as a customary win for the home team, who won 56 games last NBA season. But New York is just two years removed from a playoff run in 2020. The team may be bearish on the New York Knicks’ future odds but they can buck it with a strong start here.

Knicks vs Grizzlies Game Info

Game: New York Knicks (37-45, 2021-22) vs Memphis Grizzlies (56-26, 2021-22)
Location: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee

Knicks Lean Heavily on Slim Rotation

Tom Thibodeau is notorious for leaning a bit too much on a handful of his players. Whether in Chicago or New York, “Thibs” tends to play the heck out of his guys. Thus, it won’t be surprising to see the likes of Barrett, Julius Randle, and new acquisition Jalen Brunson dominate the minutes in a tough matchup against Memphis.

Randle is a former All-Star and Brunson broke out last season as he helped Dallas to a Conference Finals appearance. But Barrett? The 22-year-old enters his fourth season and has yet to make strides. He averaged a career-high 20 points last season but needed 17 shots a night to get there. At this point, Barrett needs to become more efficient or he’s simply the guy that got taken after Zion Williamson and Morant.

And then there is the defensive end. Barrett, like most of the Knicks last season, was a negative factor on the other end of the ball. The Knicks still finished with the 11th-best defense in the NBA though this was a sharp decline from being third in 2019-20. And on offense, the Knicks remain in the bottom-third of the NBA. Brunson will stabilize the lackluster play at the point. But the bench still leaves plenty to be desired.

“It was choppy but, [it’s] part one we have to do better,” Thibodeau told a reporter about the bench’s poor play in the preseason. “They gotta get to know each other [and] that sort of thing. And also, it’s part, like, we’re playing a lot of different combinations.”

Indeed, New York Knicks will need the likes of Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley to get better. Barrett’s Duke teammate and 2019 draft mate Cam Reddish has all but fallen out of the rotation. If he can ingratiate himself back with Thibodeau, it may just alter this Knicks vs Grizzlies odds preview.

Flashy Grizzlies Look to Dominate Amidst Absences

Memphis enters the 2022-23 season two players short: Starting forward Jaren Jackson Jr. and key bench player Danny Green. That may have deducted a point from the Grizzlies’ spread but this team remains a tier above the Knicks if they play that way. The Grizzlies were second in the NBA standings last season and gave Golden State Warriors a good test in the second round.

Morant was hurt in that series and going by his chippy nature, it has likely reignited his fire. He and the Grizzlies rubbed many the wrong way thanks to their antics; their dances, post-scoring celebrations, and penchant for trash-talking on Twitter. But Memphis backs up its words and is actually the best NBA team at covering the spread: 63.4 percent (59-34-1) last season.

Taylor Jenkins has instilled a vibrant culture in Memphis, a franchise that has smoothly transitioned from its “Grit-n-Grind” era to one that plays fast-paced basketball that is effective on both ends of the floor. The Grizzlies are one of the NBA’s youngest teams. Green is the only NBA player in his 30s with the young core of Morant, Jackson, and Desmond Bane at 24 or younger.

“I feel like he’s our coach, but he’s like a brother towards us,” Morant said of Jenkins. “We talk to him just like he’s our teammate.”

This seemingly fraternal relationship between a coach and his star player is one any franchise covets. It translated to success last season. Now, the Knicks vs Grizzlies odds preview a continuation of it. Memphis can start by running through the Knicks.

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