GM: Kevin Yeung
With the 25th pick in the draft, the Grizzlies select:
25) R.J. Hunter, Guard from Georgia State
Photo: Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports
Outside shooting has long been a need in Memphis. Here at Grizzlies HQ, we're cynical of any rookie's ability to be the magical cure of such a longstanding issue, but by drafting R.J. Hunter of Georgia State at #25, we get to balance an immediate need with a 'best player available' agenda.
I won't pretend to watch much college basketball myself, so I'll defer to some experts instead for a scouting take on Hunter.
Hunter's biggest appeal as a NBA prospect revolves around his outside shot, even if that's far from his only strength at the moment. He has deep range extending well beyond the 3-point line, and can make shots in a variety of ways, be it off spot-ups, coming off screens, or pulling up off the dribble. Hunter's release point is somewhat low, which would be more of an issue if he didn't get his shot off as quickly as he did. His mechanics are smooth and compact, complete with terrific footwork and a pretty follow-through, and he sets his feet and shoots it all in one quick, effortless and aesthetically pleasing motion.
[Hunter] can run around screens and lose his man quickly so he has enough separation to shoot the ball cleanly. Once he receives it it's one or less dribbles and he gets set then shoots. The Grizzlies could use his ability to run around screens like this. This can open up the offensive play book like JJ Redick does for the Clippers , but to a much, much lesser extent.
Shooting threes isn't all that Hunter can do. The 6'5" guard is a very capable passer that can pick a team apart in the pick and roll. He only averaged 3.5 assists per game, but it was a huge part of his game that other teams had to be aware of. Playing too close to Hunter in the pick and roll meant he was going to hit an open man. Sinking off of him meant he was going to get open for three. Sometimes high usage players aren't willing passers. Hunter is not only a willing passer, but he's a smart passer as well.
Call us enthused about the idea of a shooter and offensive hub of Hunter's credibility on our bench, which has operated with specialists and non-shooters at this position for far too long. Shooting, ball-handling and passing smarts are three essential skills for any perimeter player in the NBA, and Hunter checks each box. He posted a stellar .887 clip from the free throw line in his last year of college, which puts to bed any concerns about his low live-ball percentages given how strong an indicator free throw percentage is of shooting ability.
We're a bit more skeptical of Hunter's defensive potential – he'll certainly need to bulk up from his current 185-pound frame – but most scouts have acknowledged some upside on that end by way of his 6'10" wingspan. Two-way play borders on necessary in the NBA these days, and that Hunter's physical profile grants him a good shot at breaking through the specialist's glass ceiling is a boon for his long-term prospects.
There's no expectation for Hunter to be a contributor in Year One, but he'll be freshly 22 when the season starts and has three years of collegiate experience to his name. He may yet be able to contribute to our short-term title chase, and by joining Jordan Adams and Vince Carter in a training camp battle of something-to-proves, we're quite comfortable in thinking at least one of three emerges a viable rotational cog.
It should also be said: if Hunter carries any bad karma for the health of his coaches, we've at least insured ourselves with a greater opportunity for young players if our coach gets hurt. (Just kidding, we love Dave.)
|#1||Timberwolves||Jonah Jordan||Karl-Anthony Towns|
|#3||Timberwolves (from 76ers)||Jonah Jordan||D'Angelo Russell|
|#4||Raptors (from Knicks)||Arkm110||Emmanuel Mudiay|
|#5||Celtics (from Magic)||HEARNBURN||Kristaps Porzingis|
|#6||Kings||Jonah Jordan||Mario Hezonja|
|#7||Nuggets||Joe Witherwax||Justise Winslow|
|#8||Heat (from Pistons)||Mopo123||Stanley Johnson|
|#10||Suns (from Heat)||nickbushart||Frank Kaminsky|
|#11||Pacers||Andrew Ford||Cameron Payne|
|#13||Pistons (from Heat via Suns)||Matthew Bishop||Sam Dekker|
|#14||Thunder||ljjung||Kelly Oubre, Jr.|
|#16||Magic (from Celtics)||Andy Livingston||Bobby Portis|
|#17||Bucks Lakers (from Bucks)||chipwilliamsjr||Rondae Hollis-Jefferson|
|#19||Spurs (from Suns via Wizards)||ks10680||Tyrus Jones|
|#20||Thunder (from Raptors)||ljjung||Trey Lyles|
|#23||Trail Blazers||Commissioner||Kevon Looney|
|#24||Cavaliers||Jonah Jordan||Justin Anderson|
|#25||Grizzlies||Kevin Yueng||R.J. Hunter|
|#26||Suns (from Spurs)||nickbushart|
|#27||Bucks (from Lakers)||Jill Kong|