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Grizzly Cubs: Where the Young Guys Fit In With Memphis

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With one eye on the future, the Grizzlies' front office has built a surprisingly talented third string.

Jordan Adams may see more than just garbage-time minutes this coming season.
Jordan Adams may see more than just garbage-time minutes this coming season.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With the Grizzlies' core four as stable as ever, and a bench newly bolstered by Matt Barnes and Brandan Wright, the front office hasn't forgotten to keep one eye on the future. Rookies haven't been a big part of Memphis' recent success, but they might need to be sooner than many would care to think about, with Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Vince Carter all in their thirties.

Through drafting, trades, and smart usage of their recently affiliated D-League team (the Iowa Energy) the Grizzlies have amassed and developed a decent corps of underclassmen with enough potential to get me excited about the inevitable garbage time we'll see throughout next year's regular season. Here's a look at the young-ins and where they might fit.

The Sophomores

Jordan Adams: The Grizzlies now have more talented wings and small forwards than they know what to do with, so I really hope Jordan Adams is able to find time alongside Beno Udrih as a backup shooting guard this year. Dave Joerger has said as much, and also said he regrets not being able to play JA more often during last year's regular season. Adams spent more time on a plane than on the hardwood in 2015-16, bouncing back and forth between Des Moines and Memphis with his traveling buddy Russ Smith, but when he did see the floor - usually in garbage time - he showed great promise. Adams' best quality is his willingness to shoot, and if given more time to gel with his teammates, could easily bring that 40% field goal percentage up a bit. Of note: Adams had minor knee surgery this summer.

Russ Smith: If Basketball Reference charted charisma, Russ Smith would top the tables. He looks as good in his red DNP suit as he does in summer league uni, but I'm not sure he's mature enough to drive the family Volvo just yet. With Calathes now back in his native Greece, Smith is only an injury away (God forbid) from seeing serious minutes behind either Conley or Udrih. He'd be the flashiest (and best nicknamed) point guard Memphis has seen since "Showtime" Selby. Russ swaggered the Grizzlies' summer league team to a 5-0 record and even hit the sudden death overtime shot that delivered the championship. Who knows - Smith might just be what the Grizzlies need to combat the mid-season doldrums on long road trips.

Jarnell Stokes: With the addition of Jarell Martin, I'm not so sure where Jarnell fits in the Grizzlies' roster (except its likely near the bottom). Stokes has played only 126 minutes total in a Grizzlies uniform, and he hasn't really jumped out as either an imposing post player or a lithe ball handler, just something mushy in between. Rebounding has been the only skill in which he has shown "elite" potential, at a rate close to 10 per 36 minutes, but he has yet to play that long in a single game. The most attention Jarnell has drawn since last year's summer league was his ejection from an Energy game for fighting with teammate Kalin Lucas. I hope, if only for regional pride, that he's still on the roster this time next year.

JaMychal Green: JaMychal Green seems to have gotten the least talk of anyone on this list - probably because he's played only 164 total minutes to date - but he passes my eye test with flying colors and his per-36 numbers, admittedly speculative, are extremely promising. He feels like a hungrier, more physical version of Jarnell Stokes and with a more developed post game. JaMychal has gotten plenty of run time in the D-League for the Austin Toros, averaging 15.8 points and 9 rebounds over 60 games, shooting 53% from the floor. This is a guy who knows what he is. Unfortunately for him, he has to compete with Stokes and Martin for likely a 3rd string PF spot. Don't expect to see much of him in the regular season, barring injury.

The Freshmen

Jarell Martin: The 25th pick in this year's draft, Jarell is a highly touted, Zach Randolph-shaped power forward (6' 10'', 239 lbs) who apparently fishes and hunts deer in his spare time, like any good ole boy from Baton Rouge should. Jarell is surprisingly athletic for his size, a quick-leaper, a solid dribbler, and fun to watch on fast breaks. He averaged nearly 17 points and 9.2 rebounds per game at LSU, leading the Tigers to an NCAA tournament berth as a sophomore. Chris Wallace is excited about the match-up problems he will present against fours who try to guard him away from the rim. If the Grizzlies can hold on to Jarell and get him some good development play in Iowa - and I know this is cliche to repeat at this point - he could potentially make a worthy successor to the Zach Randolph throne. They wouldn't even have to tailor the seat cushions.

Andrew Harrison: Harrison's biggest asset is probably his size, 6'6'' with a 6'9'' wingspan - big for a point guard, and he comes in at a time when the Grizzlies just lost a big point guard (Calathes to Panathinaikos). That size enables him to bully his way into the lane and makes him valuable against small PG's on defense. Other than that, picking Harrison seemed to be a "take him cause you can" decision on draft night with Jon Leuer becoming expendable after Martin's selection. Andrew doesn't shoot particularly well consistently and was considered by scouts to be a less impressive prospect than his twin Aaron. I doubt he'll see much of Memphis this year, let alone floor time for the Grizzlies.

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