Grizzlies’ Zach Kleiman Wins Executive of the Year with Memphis ‘Moneyball’

  • At 33, the Grizzlies executive is the youngest GM to win the award.
  • He built a championship contender with the second-youngest team and second-lowest payroll.
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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Memphis Grizzlies general manager Zach Kleiman has been named the NBA’s 2021-22 Executive of the Year, becoming the youngest GM to win the award.

Kleiman joined the Grizzlies in 2015 as a legal counsel before making the jump to executive vice president in 2019 — when he drafted 2019-20 Rookie of the Year and 2022 Most Improved Player Ja Morant. 

The 33-year-old mastermind adapted the “moneyball” philosophy in Memphis, building a championship contender in a small market, with the league’s second-youngest squad, and on the second-lowest payroll ($115M) in the NBA. 

When he took over, the Grizzlies were a 34-win lottery team. This year, they matched a franchise-record for wins in a season (56) and finished as the second seed in the West for the first time.

Kleiman wisely invested in young talent — namely Morant ($9.6M), Dillon Brooks ($12.2M) Jaren Jackson Jr. (4 YRs, $105M), and Desmond Bane ($2M).

Even playing without Morant, Memphis earned a 49-point win against the Warriors in Game 5 — and they’ll look to stay alive in Game 6 their Western Conference Semifinals series on Friday.

The Grizzlies signed their superstar GM to a multiyear deal this past offseason.

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