Memphis Grizzlies Center Steven Adams, NBA’s Top Offensive Rebounder, Out 3-5 Weeks

The Memphis Grizzlies incurred a huge blow when center Steven Adams sustained a right knee injury over the weekend, and they’ll lose the NBA’s best offensive rebounder for multiple weeks.

Steven Adams PCL knee injury Memphis Grizzlies Out Update
Steven Adams PCL knee injury Memphis Grizzlies Out Update
Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams dunks after snatching an offensive rebound at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. (Image: USA Today Sports)

Adams went down with the injury on Sunday night when the Phoenix Suns defeated the Grizzlies. He underwent an MRI on Tuesday, which revealed a PCL sprain in his right knee.

The Grizzlies announced that Adams will miss three to five weeks while he recovers from the knee injury. The good news is that Adams doesn’t require surgery, but simply needs rest.

Coaches love Adams because he’s a banger on the boards and plays with an old-school mentality. The ultra-competitive and physical Adams is focused on playing defense and rebounding. He averages 9.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game in 42 starts with the Grizzlies this season.

Adams is the best offensive rebounder in the NBA, averaging  5.1 offensive rebounds per game. He’s also ranked #4 overall in total rebounds per game.

Adams is also one of the best screeners on the Grizzlies and a valuable part of their pick-and-roll offense. He has a reputation for being a brick wall on screens, much to the dismay of opposing defenses.

The durable Adams logged 80-plus games in four out of his first six NBA seasons, which is rare these days in the “load management” era. He appeared in 76 games with the Grizzlies last season.

From New Zealand to Pittsburgh to Grind City

Adams grew up in Wellington, New Zealand. His mother is originally from Tonga, and his father is from England and served in the Royal Navy. Adams excelled in rugby and soccer, but as a 6-foot-11 teenager, he gravitated toward basketball.

Adams played one season in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) for the Wellington Saints, where he earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2011. He drew interest from scouts from the United States, but he was still a raw talent. He played one season of ball in New England before he enrolled at Pitt on a basketball scholarship.

Adams played a one-and-done season at Pitt. He started 32 games as a freshman and got named to the Big East All-Freshman Team. NBA scouts projected him as a first-round pick, so he declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft.

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Adams with the #12 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He made a noticeable impact as a rookie and was named to the 2013-14 NBA All-Rookie Team on the second team.

Adams spent seven seasons with the Thunder and one season with the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans traded Adams to the Grizzlies in the summer of 2021.

Next Man Up: Brandon Clarke

With Adams out for a month or more with a knee injury, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins will rely on backup center Brandon Clarke.

Clarke, a former standout from Gonzaga, is playing in his fourth season with the Grizzlies. He’s been a backup center during his short career. In 41 games this season, Clarke averages 10.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He also shoots an efficient 66% from the floor.

Clarke provides a little more offense than Adams, but he’s not as strong of a rebounder. As the Grizzlies’ top rebounder, Adams averages 6.4 defensive rebounds and 5.1 offensive rebounds per game. Without Adams, the Grizzlies will have to make a bigger team effort to crash the glass, especially on offense over the next several weeks.

Jaren Jackson Jr. has been starting at power forward since he returned from a stress fracture injury in November. Jackson could see some time playing center in the next few weeks because second-year player Santi Aldama (9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds) has made big strides as a backup power forward.

Betting the Banged-Up Grizzlies

The Grizzlies have been dealing with injuries all season, yet they’re still in second place in the Western Conference standings with a 31-16 record. They recently had an 11-game winning streak come to a halt against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Shooting guard Desmond Bane missed 20 games with a toe injury. Jackson missed the start of the season while he recovered. Veteran guard Danny Green has yet to suit up this season after recovering from a knee injury. Even superstar point guard Ja Morant missed eight games this season.

The Grizzlies are +950 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship. During the preseason, the Grizzlies were +2200 odds to win the title, but gradually saw their odds improve throughout the first half of the season. In Western Conference futures, the Grizzlies are +400 odds to win the conference and secure a trip to the 2023 NBA Finals.

The Grizzlies are in first place in the Southwest Division and are on pace to win consecutive division crowns. They opened up a 5.5-game lead over the struggling second-place New Orleans Pelicans, who have been playing the last three weeks without Zion Williamson.

The Grizzlies are -1500 odds to win the Southwest Division as a huge favorite over the Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks. Out of six NBA divisions, the Grizzlies are the second-biggest favorite on the board to win their division. Only the Denver Nuggets — at -2000 odds to win the Northwest Division — have better divisional odds and a wider gap than the Grizzlies.

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