MEMPHIS – It was one of the biggest questions for the Grizzlies heading into this preseason… who would be the team’s fifth starter with Ja Morant facing that 25-game suspension?

Well, with opening night just over a week away, it seems like Ziaire Williams has become the front runner for that starting spot.

Coming off a very disappointing second season last year, Williams has been a man on a mission this preseason.  He is averaging over 12 points a game, playing two as a starter and two coming off the bench.  Williams scoring 19 points in Sunday night’s loss in Miami.

Knowing that fifth starter spot is up for grabs, Williams has made no bones about wanting to be in the starting line-up against the Pelicans on opening night.

“I’d be lying to you if I told you I didn’t want to start. But regardless whether it’s starting or coming off the bench, on the ball, off the ball, I just want to win games and just prove I belong,” Williams said.  “They said they love my confidence out there, and love my defense, my energy. Just being real active, just trying to make my presence felt on both sides of the floor.”

Consider the head coach impressed.

“He’s done a phenomenal job. As we continue to talk about that fifth starter, I think he’s got a great opportunity. I think he’s played well the last two games as a starter. Coming off the bench, even against Miami,” said Taylor Jenkins. “So knowing that he’s capable of contributing in whatever role gives me a lot of confidence right now.”