My biggest frustration with the Memphis Grizzlies is the way they neglect to develop their young players. The Grizzlies only have two players on their roster that were drafted by the team: Mike Conley and Jordan Adams.
In fact, if you go back and look at the Grizzlies drafts since 2009, the team has drafted 11 players. Of those 11, six are not in the NBA, three - DaMarre Carroll, Greivis Vasquez, and Tony Wroten - either start or see significant minutes for other NBA teams, Jamaal Franklin is on the Denver Nuggets roster, and only one - Adams - is still with the team.
And, as I'm confident you're very familiar with by now, the Grizzlies need to shoot from three better and score more points. This has literally been the main void the Grizzlies have needed to fill heading into every off-season for the last five years. Yet, they've been unsuccessful in doing so to this point.
Well, there are several things Jordan Adams is good at doing, and two of those things just so happen to be shooting the three and scoring lots of points.
We don't really have a ton of reliable NBA stats on Adams because the guy only logged 248 minutes this season, and people would scream at me, "YEAH, BUT SAMPLE SIZE, BRO!" But just for fun, Adams connected on 11 of his 26 three-point attempts (42.3 percent) which was the best three-point percent on the team this season.
But for all of you sample size bros out there, don't worry, because Adams logged 351 minutes for the Iowa Energy this season, and he hit 18 of the 47 threes he attempted (38.3 percent). If you combine Adams' D-League and NBA three point number, he shot 39.7 percent from this season.
As frustrating as it was to watch a guy who has proven in limited minutes to be a well above average three-point shooter (and literally your best three-point shooter by percentage) sit on the bench for a team in desperate need of three-point shooting, what may have even been more frustrating was the blatant mismanagement of his playing time.
Adams logged a grand total of 599 minutes of professional basketball this season. Check this: Russ Smith, who was traded to the Grizzlies on January 12, logged 631 minutes between the Grizzlies and Energy this season. That means Smith logged 32 more minutes with the Grizzlies/Energy than Adams despite Adams being here for the full season and Smith getting here in mid-January.
If the Grizzlies do not want to play Adams with the big club, then, whatever, that's fine. Send him to Iowa where he can stay in basketball shape and get to play against other professional basketball players. But don't just have him sit stagnate on the bench. The way young players develop is by letting them play basketball. Let them play through mistakes and get a feel for how much faster the professional game is compared to college. The Grizzlies didn't have a problem doing this with their other rookies. The team realized that Smith wasn't going to crack the point guard rotation, and they were still able to get him a good number of minutes. The same goes for Jarnell Stokes. The Grizzlies realized that he wasn't quite ready for the NBA, so he spent the majority of his first season in Iowa where he was able to log a total of 863 minutes this season.
And, sure, you could make the argument that Adams was able to practice with the Grizzlies during his time in Memphis, and that helped his development. And there's probably some truth to that, honestly, but practice can only do so much. Guys get better by playing in real games. There's a big difference between practice speed and game speed.
In the grand scheme of things, Adams playing so few minutes this season will probably matter little. The guy is extremely talented, and once he's given his opportunity, he'll most likely flourish. But this season does feel a bit like a wasted opportunity.
Had the Grizzlies decided early on that they simply did not have a spot for Adams to get minutes with the big club, they should have sent him to Iowa and allowed him to play heavy minutes in the D-League. Then when the injury to Vince Cater happened, they could have recalled him and found minutes for him. Then if you needed him later in the season to play actual meaningful minutes, you would have felt more comfortable about his ability to make the proper rotations on the defensive end or knock down a contested three. But that didn't happen. Instead, Adams spent most of the 2014-2015 season buried on the end of the Grizzlies bench while Vince Carter and Nick Calathes were, at times, trotted out to fill the back-up shooting guard position.
Once we got deep into the season, two things were clear: The Grizzlies still needed shooting, and they had not given Adams enough minutes earlier in the season to where he could be trusted once the end of the season and playoffs rolled around.
So, going into next season, nobody is really sure what Jordan Adams will be. I think that by this point it's pretty clear that the guy belongs in the NBA, but in what capacity still remains unknown. He may turn himself into a valuable 3-and-D wing who shoots around 40 percent from three while using his 6-foot-10 wingspan to swipe passes out of the air. But I think that's selling his talents a bit short.
He may turn into the right-handed James Harden, as Russ Smith has referred to him on social media. But that might be a bit too optimistic.
I tend to think that Jordan Adams will turn into something in-between those two. He's something more than simply just a 3-and-D, but he might not quite end up being equal to the guy that finished runner-up in the MVP voting (although their games are very similar - minus the whole flopping thing).
We all know Adams can shoot, but he can also get to the rim at will and either finish or draw fouls. The release on his shot is absurdly quick. He has exceptional handles and a killer crossover. He flashed his pull-up jumper on multiple occasions this season, and I think Beno Udrih and Courtney Lee might have some competition for best pull-up jumper. Some have knocked his ability to defend despite the high number of steals, but we really don't know what kind of defender he is yet. (Note: You can have a high number of steals but still not be a good defender. I think to often people think that just because you record two steals or two blocks a game that that automatically makes you a good defender. This is not the case.) Most rookies are a step or two slow in defensive rotations.
But we can't say for certain, at this point, what Jordan Adams is or who he will become. Theoretically anyone's guess can't be ruled out because we haven't seen enough of him to know exactly what he will turn into (right, sample size bros?).
I was encouraged by what I saw, though, and I'll hope that for the 2015-2016 season, the #FreeJordanAdams hashtag can be put six feet under for good.
Until then, enjoy some highlights of Jordan Adams making people look silly and scoring on them: