Grizz Targets This Off-Season Point To Valuing Brains Over Bang
So the last few years of experiments with acquiring unrealized talent over basketball IQ and locker room cohesiveness did not pan out the way the Grizzlies or fans would have wanted. Via the draft and free agency the Grizzlies have acquired several high ceiling, low floor talents that have simply either not panned out of have left a lot to be desired.
While much of the lack of production from Jarell Martin from the 2015 draft could be due to injury and coaching changes, no one is mistaking him as an elite basketball mind. Martin is known for making breathtaking plays showcasing his athleticism in one moment, mixed in with a plethora of head scratching decision making. In 2016 the Grizzlies drafted Wade Baldwin, who came in with the reputation of being an athletic point guard with a self-proclaimed high basketball IQ. Ironically Baldwin didn't show much of either on the actual court. He also had an over-inflated view of himself that he didn't mind displaying to teammates and coaches that earned him the moniker of being described as one of the most “punchable” players in the NBA by Blu3WorldOrder site manager @SainAsylum. That experiment ran its course all the way out of town as the Grizzlies waived Baldwin after one failed season.
In the same draft, the Grizzlies traded for Deyonta Davis, who is not even good at acting like he understands or really cares about what’s going on. Davis also came in with the label of being an athletic rim protector that has excellent advanced stats at Michigan St. So far he has not shown any consistency on defense whether it be blocked shots, rebounding, awareness or just effort in general. Last off-season the Grizzlies also added Ben McLemore, a Chris Wallace special; former Kansas, unproven “scorer”, who was highly ranked in high school. Many media members and fans alike were not thrilled with the move. It seems they may have been correct.
None of these moves have amounted to any success. You could argue with the exception of the injures last year, the Grizzlies, with the exception of last season, have survived recently in-spite of their drafts and acquisitions. Now, with Chris Wallace and J. B. Bickerstaff’s proclamation of the team moving to a new era…a reemergence of the Grit-n-Grind era, it seems as if the team is also going after high basketball IQ and positive locker room guys in a very calculated fashion.
With the 4th pick in the 2018 NBA draft, the Memphis Grizzlies selected Jaren Jackson Jr., a forward out of Michigan State University. Jackson is somewhat of an exception here. He has a fairly high basketball IQ and while young, has also shown signs to be a GREAT locker room guy (refer to him being more hyped in the Utah Summer league for Deyonta Davis success than Davis himself). However, he also possesses arguably the most up-side of any prospect in this year’s draft class. So far in the Summer League he's shown defensive awareness, leadership and communication skills that are well ahead of schedule.
With the 32nd pick in the 2018 NBA draft, the Memphis Grizzlies selected Jevon Carter, guard out of West Virginia University. Jevon’s contributions to any team are well documented. Never highly ranked. Always the first one in the gym and the last one out. I believe if you line up against Jevon at the Y, he’s still treating it like it’s game 7 of the NBA finals. He also shows potential to be a perfect mix of physical attributes and headiness on the defensive end. The Grizzlies also added Israeli wing veteran Omri Casspi, another high IQ player that could mesh well with players like Gasol and Conley. Any veteran player that knows where to be on the court and attributes to ball movement is always good for Marc Gasol's overall mental health.
Now add the recent news of the team’s offer sheet recently extended to Kyle Anderson. Personally, I don’t see a world in which the Spurs pass on matching the offer, but it could happen. If it does the Grizz are adding a guy that literally always makes his teams better. According to @AndrewDBailey of Bleacher Report and the @HardwoodKnocks podcast, “no one in NBA History matches Kyle Anderson’s combination of AST%, REB%, STL% and BLK%." Talk about basketball IQ meeting production.
While some may argue that none of these moves are earth shattering, they all absolutely make you better. Jaren may help quicker than anyone thought. Jevon at least, immediately pushes all the guards in practice. Kyle starts at the 3 and plays 2-4 often. The Grizzlies are slowly getting younger, while also adding quality individuals. Individuals that help their teams win. For a team with nearly $80 million wrapped up in 3 veterans for the 2018 season, (unless you’re a proponent of full rebuild now) it would be hard to imagine a more helpful scenario for the future.