Author's Note: Today is the NBA Draft, or as I like to call it, Christmas in June. Here at SOV, I'll be writing semi-rational profiles for my three favorite prospects. Here's to hoping one or all of them is available when the Grizzlies are on the clock. First up: Evan Fornier.
19 years old, 6'7", 204 lbs., SG/SF, Poitiers (France)
Best Song for a Future Highlight Reel: "Be My Yoko Ono"-Barenaked Ladies
What Skills He Brings to the Table: Fournier is similar to many Euros in that he's incredibly skilled and has a high basketball I.Q. He's a good ballhandler and passes well. He's at his best in a pick-and-roll offense and in transition, where he excels at getting to rim and finishing. Defensively, he's able to use his length and quickness to play the passing lanes and collect steals.
What He Lacks: A consistent jumpshot; while he's a good, crafty finisher around the rim, he's not particularly explosive and doesn't play above the rim, because of this, scouts are concerned if his scoring will translate to the NBA.
Best-Case Comparisons: John Salmons (Draft Express)
Why the Grizzlies Ought to Draft Him (for basketball reasons): Fournier provides depth where the Grizzlies need it most, especially if the trade does indeed attempt to trade Rudy Gay. He's smart and versitile enough that he should have no problem fitting into the Grizzlies' offense. God knows we can always use more wings that rebound and cut to the rim. While his jumper is also inconsistent, it's much farther along than many of the other prospects that Memphis is considering (including Tony Wroten's). While he's no LeBron James or Rudy Gay, Fournier's a good athlete and is skilled enough to be a solid starter in this league for many years.
Why the Grizzlies Ought to Draft Him (for non-basketball reasons): For purely fiscal reasons, it never hurts to broaden your potential fanbase. Take it from someone who lives in Europe, basketball, especially the NBA, is quickly becoming a big deal over here. For a small market team like the Grizzlies, drafting a foreign player gives us the chance to expand our fanbase. For evidence of this, look no further than the San Antonio Spurs, who have one of the most diverse fanbases in the league; believe me on this one, anytime I talk to basketball fans abroad, there's a good chance that they follow the Spurs. Further, Fournier has an advantage over guys like Tony Parker, Nic Batum, and Boris Diaw in that he's young and his recent stint in the French leagues is more likely to pull in younger French fans (wouldn't it be cool if we had a bunch of them come over to SOV?).
Further Reading: Grantland's Jordan Conn wrote yesterday about Fournier and the future of international players (highly recommended)