Jordan Adams, Russ Smith, JaMychal Green, and Jarnell Stokes did not receive extended playing time last season as the Grizzlies were aiming for a championship with their seasoned veterans. Over this summer, the Grizzlies have already shaken up the roster by adding rookies Andrew Harrison and Jarell Martin. Memphis also acquired Matt Barnes and Brandan Wright via free agency.
Now, the Grizzlies are loaded with players, but it seems that not everyone who is currently listed on the roster will make it to training camp. Among those in danger include the Grizzlies' second-year players and rookies. However, Jarell Martin will not be participating in this year's Orlando Summer League as he allows his injured foot to heal. I assume that Jarell Martin is safe, as the Grizzlies just drafted him with their 25th pick, and the thought of him leaving before the season starts seems unlikely. Andrew Harrison was traded in exchange for Jon Leuer, but his spot on the roster could be in jeopardy. The Grizzlies' second year players, Adams, Green, Smith, and Stokes, will likely all not remain on the roster. After all, the Grizzlies may still need to acquire a veteran backup point guard or shooter. Therefore, the Orlando Pro Summer League will be the perfect time for the rookies and second-year players to shine.
What do these players need to do to stay on the roster?
Adams was brought in as a scorer by the Grizzlies in the draft last year with their 22nd pick. Jordan is a gifted offensive player who averaged 16.4 points during his time at UCLA. Though his playing time was scarce, we did see sparks of offensive brilliance from Adams. He made 10-25 threes on the year. On the other hand, he did struggle on defense as he often seemed a step slower than his opponent. This summer league is the perfect time for Adams to show why he should receive more playing time, as his position is currently crowded on the Grizzlies' roster. It's hard to see Adams playing ahead of Tony Allen, Matt Barnes, and Courtney Lee as of now. However, he can make a bold statement in this year's summer league by spreading the floor. He needs to showcase his speed and scoring abilities. Particularly, he needs to prove his ability to score from beyond the arc, as this would fill a huge gap in the Grizzlies' offense. If he can show his range on the offensive end and ability to work efficiently within the offense, then he can hopefully keep his place on the roster and perhaps earn some more playing time.
The second-year player from the University of Tennessee seems a shadow of Zach Randolph. His strengths include rebounding and scoring in the low post, similar to Randolph. The power forward will have some competition with JaMychal Green. Stokes seemed at times uncomfortable on the court with the Grizzlies last season, but he displayed his gritty style of play and always gave tremendous effort, particularly on the glass. During this tournament, he'll need to continue showcasing his rebounding and show his athleticism and toughness in the paint. In addition, Stokes could put himself ahead of his peers if he could shoot with more range, as that was one of his weaknesses last season.
The Grizzlies acquired Green in the middle of last season, and he only played 20 games. However, in the games he did play, he didn't lack effort, and he showed some promise in his limited minutes. During this summer league, Green should showcase his somewhat consistent elbow jumper, as well as his athleticism in the paint. It should be a battle between Stokes and Green, as it's very possible that only one of these two stays on the Grizzlies' roster. Green could separate himself from Stokes if Stokes is unable to shoot any sort of consistent jumper, which Green should be able to do.
"Russdiculous" arrived in Memphis last season, and he's gotten very little chance to showcase his skills. But now could be his time to shine. The Grizzlies currently have Mike Conley and Beno Udrih at the point guard position, with Nick Calathes probably departing soon. Memphis might shop for a third point guard, but Smith could perhaps provide some help at the backup point guard position. This tournament provides a good time for Smith to show how he can orchestrate the offense and how he can offer consistent scoring. Russ Smith offers quickness and played extremely well in the D League with the Iowa Energy. Smith will need to show out to grab the Grizzlies' attention and prove how he could help at the guard position this season. He's great at penetrating the paint, particularly. Similar to Jordan Adams, he will need to show how he can space the floor for the Grizzlies and shoot at an efficient rate and large volume. His defense needs some improvement, but his skills are mostly on the offensive end.
The Grizzlies traded Jon Leuer for Andrew Harrison, who was the 44th pick in this year's NBA draft. Originally from the University of Kentucky, Harrison averaged 10.1 points and 3.8 assists per game while in college. As a guard, Harrison could add more shooting to the Grizzlies' arsenal. He'll have some competition with Russ Smith and Jordan Adams, though. Harrison will need to fight for his position on the Grizzlies' roster. He can do this by showing off his size and athleticism. As a shooter, he needs to be able to score from the three point line and knock down consistent jumpers within the Grizzlies' offense. His ability to score at a better rate than Adams will be his key to pulling ahead of his peer. If Adams and Smith outperform Harrison during this tournament, I would not be surprised to see Harrison be let go from the team.
My expectations for this summer league are higher than normal, as this tournament has the potential to shape the back end of the Grizzlies' roster. More than likely, at least one of these players will be cut. It seems to be Stokes vs. Green, as well as Harrison vs. Smith vs. Adams. My prediction is that Harrison will be cut, as well as Stokes or Green. Whatever the case, I'll be tuning to see who impresses and who disappoints.