clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Farewell, Jordan Adams. I still believe.

Saying goodbye to what might have been.

NBA: Playoffs-Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Adams catches the ball on the right wing.

The Indiana Pacers’ C.J. Miles sprints over to close out on the Grizzlies rookie, but by the time he reaches Adams, the young shooting guard has already taken a dribble left, forcing Miles to slide an extra time.

Adams, being the natural, savvy scorer that he is, realizes he has Miles caught in an awkward position, so he does a half spin back in the direction Miles came from, throwing him completely off balance.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Then, instead of completing his spin back towards the paint, Adams plants his left foot and reverses course right at the same Miles begins to recover.

At this point, Adams knows he has Miles dead to rights with his back turned, so he calmly comes back to his left and knocks down a fallaway 15-foot jumper.

My brother, who came to that game, the final regular season game of the 2014-15 season, with me turns to me in awe and says, “Maybe you were right about this Jordan Adams guy.” I knew I was. Adams was coming off a career-high 19 points in 21 minutes the previous game in Golden State. The Grizzlies had done it. They had finally found the answer to who was going to space the floor and provide youth to an aging team.

***

I’ve always been a fan of the way Jordan Adams plays basketball.

He managed to always find a way to score despite being limited athletically. He beat defenders with his natural footwork and scoring instincts. Every move he made with the ball in his hands was silky smooth - whether that was getting his defender off balance for a jumper or slipping around his man on his way to the basket.

Defense was always going to be somewhat of an issue simply because he was going to be defending guys who were quicker than him, but not so much of an issue that it was going to keep him off the floor. He was strong, so he wasn’t going to get bullied in the paint. He was a basketball kleptomaniac, leading the Pac-12 in steals in both of his collegiate seasons.

The Grizzlies were in desperate need of someone like Adams, who could shoot and score because, well, for years the Grizzlies were not good at either. They could, in theory, cover up his defensive limitations with the elite defense the Grizzlies had annually. And from the flashes Adams showed as a rookie, some, including myself, were hopeful that year two of the Jordan Adams era would see him morph into a rotation wing that might be able to crack the starting lineup in the latter years of his rookie contract.

***

Injuries will forever be an unavoidable evil in sports. They’ve derailed countless careers before they had the chance to get started.

I, like anyone that follows the Grizzlies or the NBA, remember when the injuries started for Adams.

First, there was the partially torn meniscus in the 2015 offseason that caused Adams to miss most of the offseason activities and be limited in training camp - a training camp that would have been critical in his development heading into his second season.

But Adams returned to play for opening night against the Cavaliers, scoring three points in seven minutes in the 30-point blowout loss.

Dave Joerger sat Adams the next two games, but he returned to action in game four against the Warriors, scoring four points in seven minutes this times in a 50-point blowout loss.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

That’s the last time Jordan Adams played in an NBA game for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Adams suffered what the team said was an “unrelated injury” to his right knee, the same knee he had meniscus surgery on just two months prior.

In January, two months after his injury in Golden State, Adams underwent a second surgery on his right knee.

After reportedly returning to basketball activities in March, Adams was unable to play without discomfort in his right knee, so it was determined that he would need a cartilage transplant in that knee. The surgery was preformed in June.

Four months later, roughly 28 months after being selected in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft, Jordan Adams was cut by the Memphis Grizzlies.

***

There was a time when Jordan Adams represented hope for the future in Memphis, when he was one of two players on the roster drafted by the Grizzlies in the first round - the other being Mike Conley.

That is no longer the case.

Since drafting Adams, the Grizzlies have added Jarell Martin, Wade Baldwin, Deyonta Davis, Andrew Harrison, the draft rights to Rade Zagorac, the draft rights to Wang Zhelin (what, don’t look at me like that), and Troy Williams, the undrafted rookie who made the team and forced the Grizzlies to cut Adams.

It was the right move to make. Had the Grizzlies not signed Williams, there wouldn’t have been a second chance. He proved in the preseason that he is an NBA player, and there’s no doubt in my mind that if the Grizzlies had let him walk, he would have had multiple suitors.

But it still stings for us, the Jordan Adams believers. It’s not fair watching a young, supremely talented basketball player be hindered because of injuries. But that’s a microcosm of life, which is never fair.

Assuming he eventually recovers from his knee injuries, Adams will get another chance at playing in the NBA - he’s too talented not to. And, again assuming health, I suspect he’ll stick in the league for some time - again, he’s too talented not to.

Until then, good luck and get well, Jordan. We’ll be rooting for you here in Memphis.

Follow @sbngrizzlies