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Grizzlies GM wins

It’s not the most talked about individual trophy, but it deserves as much recognition as the others. Each year, the NBA rewards an executive for the work accomplished and his role in the success of a franchise. For 2022, Grizzlies basketball operations boss Zach Kleiman wins the jackpot ahead of Arturas Karnisovas (Bulls) and Koby Altman (Cavaliers).

Even the most optimistic Memphis fans couldn’t imagine such a scenario a few months ago. This season, the Grizzlies have had a fantastic climb up the Western hierarchy, going from ninth place last year to second this year (highest ranking in franchise history) with no less than 56 wins on the clock (and at least one first round of Playoffs won, a first since 2015). The explosion of Ja Morant obviously represents the first symbol of the clear progression of Memphis, the phenomenon having officially joined the clan of superstars and today possessing the unofficial status of the most exciting player in the NBA. But the Grizzlies are much more than a one-man show. The proof, they won 20 games out of 25 when their leader was unavailable, proof of the strength of Taylor Jenkins’ group. In addition to Morant who was voted MIP of the NBA season, sophomore Desmond Bane was also among the players who improved the most during the regular (and author of a huge first round against the Wolves), while Jaren Jackson Jr. finished in the Top 5 in the Defender of the Year race. And as we are in the middle of the awards, Jenkins finished second in the ranking of the best coaches behind Monty Williams. An exciting team for some and cheeky for others, the Grizzlies are above all a tight-knit group that can shine on both sides of the field. A group that shows that it is possible to win based on a young workforce that grows together. In other words, a real culture is emerging today in Memphis after the Grit & Grind period of the last decade.

Behind it all, there is general manager Zach Kleiman. This trophy for Best Manager of the Year rewards the work he has accomplished over several years. Extended over the long term by his franchise in June 2021, Kleiman had already convinced the highest leaders of the Grizzlies after two years as the boss of basketball operations. If selecting Ja Morant with the number two of the 2019 Draft is not really an achievement, Zach was able to perfectly build his roster around him to allow the franchise to really take off again after the transfers of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Knowing that it’s quite a hassle to recruit free agents when you play in Memphis, Kleiman logically bet on the Draft where he made some nice moves by recruiting Brandon Clarke (21st choice drafted by the Thunder in 2019 but sent to Memphis just behind), Desmond Bane (30th choice drafted by Boston in 2020 but transferred in stride) or Xavier Tillman (35th choice 2020, transferred from Sacramento to Memphis), who were added to the core already in place made up of Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. (drafted 2018, extended 2021) and Dillon Brooks (drafted 2017, extended 2020). You add to that the arrival of valuable players like veteran pivot Steven Adams (who arrived in the summer of 2021 with young Ziaire Williams in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas) or even Tyus Jones and De’Anthony Melton, and you get the structure of the team currently masterfully managed by Taylor Jenkins, also hired by Kleiman in 2019 when he had never been a head coach before. In short, a real masterclass!

Before being general manager of the Grizzlies, Zach Kleiman was the assistant of Chris Wallace but already had a great influence in the decisions, and can thus be regarded without the slightest doubt as the great architect of the success of Memphis today. Well deserved award.

Source text: NBA

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