clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Memphis Grizzlies had an amazing 2016 NBA Draft

A look back at how the Grizzlies acquired Wade Baldwin, Deyonta Davis, Rade Zagorac and Wang Zhelin plus scouting reports on each player, including Wang!

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies had one of the best drafts from a value standpoint not just among teams this year but during the entire Chris Wallace era.

The Grizzlies' night began with pick 17, and after some surprising selections ahead of them, such as Thon Maker to the Bucks at 10 and Georgios Pappagiannis at 13 to the Kings, players I had ranked 41 and 58 on my big board, respectively, there were a number options that would have made plenty of sense in Memphis.

Timothe Luwawu and Wade Baldwin were two prospects from a value, talent, and fit standpoint made tons of sense for the Grizzlies at 17, and they decided to go with Baldwin, the long, sharpshooting point guard out of Vanderbilt.

After 17, the Grizzlies were not scheduled to make a pick again until 57, but the draft was so off the rails by this point that they had to get back in the party. Around pick 28, it became clear that was exactly what was going to happen.

The Memphis Grizzlies traded the rights to the Clippers 2019 first round pick to the Boston Celtics for picks No, 31 and 35 in the 2016 NBA Draft. Because of the protections on the pick, the Clippers would need to make the playoffs in either 2019 or 2020 for the pick to be in the first round; otherwise, it will turn into a 2022 second round pick.

With the talent that dropped into the second round, it made tons of sense for the Grizzlies to use one of their future assets to jump into the early second round.

At 31, the Celtics selected Michigan State forward Deyonta Davis for the Grizzlies. Davis was ranked 13th on my big board, and he was the only green room invitee to slip into the second round. Almost across the board, mock drafts had Davis being selected in the top 15 with some having him going as high as top 10. Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace said after the draft that he didn't expect in his "wildest dreams" that Davis would be available at 31.

Four picks later, at 35, the Celtics, again picking for the Grizzlies, selected Rade Zagorac from Serbia, who will likely stay overseas for a few more seasons.

At 57, the Grizzlies did something that no other team did all night, they took a player that not only did I not have ranked in my top 100, I had never heard of him. Wang Zhelin is a 7-foot, 250 center from China that the Grizzlies selected, and it'll be interesting to see what happens with him. My initial thought was this is another Janis Timma situation, and that has value.

If you'll remember, the Grizzlies traded Timma's rights in order to eventually acquire Matt Barnes. Just because a prospect never comes over doesn't mean that he has no value to his team. NBA teams have to trade something in all trades, and draft rights of a prospect that will never come over is an easy way to trade something to a team who's looking to dump a player, which was the case with Barnes last summer, without the other team having to take back any sort of salary. It's almost like trading the phantom top-55 protected second round pick.

Is this the case with Zhelin? Maybe, but who knows. It's possible that the Grizzlies genuinely believe that he can come over one day and contribute, but even if he doesn't, his rights still have value in the trade market.

So, exactly what type of players did the Grizzlies get at 17, 31, 35 and 57?

I'm glad you asked.

Wade Baldwin, 6'4" 202 lbs. PG, Vanderbilt

There's a lot to like about Wade Baldwin on both ends of the floor, but it begins with his exemplary physical profile. He's got elite size and length for the point guard position, standing 6-4, 202 with a 6-11 wingspan, which will allow him to guard all three wing positions.

Offensively, the aspect of Baldwin's game that jumps out immediately is his jump shooting, especially off the catch. Despite an odd looking release (it looks a bit like if Kevin Martin halfway improved his form), Baldwin shot 40.6 percent from three last season on over three attempts per game. He showed the ability in college to run off screens and hit jumpers as well, a valuable NBA skill.

One aspect of Baldwin's offensive game that needs to improve is his ability to get in the paint and finish in the half court. Baldwin doesn't possess a very explosive first step, and this makes it difficult for him to turn the corner on a defender. Moreover, he's not very comfortable in pick and roll sets yet. He picks up his dribble at inopportune times, and he doesn't yet have the most advanced array of dribble moves. All of these are things that can be taught.

Where Baldwin is best, though is in the open court when he gets a full head of steam going. Here are a couple of GIFs to prove it:



Baldwin should turn into a really good defender. He's got the size and lateral quickness to defend multiple positions and even switch screens. When he's locked in, he's a devastating one-on-one defender.

Deyonta Davis 6'11" 237 lbs. PF, Michigan State

It's hard not to call getting a player the caliber of Deyonta Davis in the second round an absolute steal. At worst, it's a really good value pick, and it was worth the risk of potentially giving up a first round pick.

Davis is far from a finished product, and he'll need plenty of time to develop, but he's got the foundation to be a really good power forward in the NBA.

First, Davis has elite size for a power forwards. He's 6'11, 237 with a 7-2.5 wingspan and a 9-0.5 standing reach. He shouldn't have any problem defending either big spot.

Davis moves very fluidly for someone his size which makes me think that coupled with his length, he'll be able to switch pick and rolls. He's got great instincts as a shot blocker, blocking 4.1 shots per 40 minutes. Many of his blocks came when defending one-on-one, which is much more difficult than a help-side block.


Davis showed throughout the season that he's comfortable and capable of defending on the perimeter in space. He moves his feet well and uses his length to his advantage.

Rebounding is another aspect about Davis' game to really like. He averaged 4.6 offensive rebounds and 12.1 total rebounds per 40 minutes. He isn't afraid to find a body a box out. He's a willing rebounder that seeks out the ball even if its out of his area. He'll be someone teams will have to be aware of on the offensive glass because he's always a threat for a put-back dunk like below.


Offensively, Davis is pretty raw but has plenty of room to grow. He's already got good touch and extension on his right-handed hook shot, and his mid-range jumper looks promising. I don't think Davis will ever be considered a stretch four, but he already has shown enough to make me think he can develop a pretty consistent jump out to about 15 feet. Oh, yeah, and he can do this.


It will take Davis some time working with new head coach David Fizdale and his staff before he's ready to make a significant contribution, but the talent is there. And if Fizdale is as good at developing talent as everyone says he is, the Grizzlies might have just gotten one of the biggest steals of the draft.

Rade Zagorac 6'9" 205 lbs. SF, Serbia.

Rade Zagorac is a very intriguing draft-and-stash prospect. I'd be pretty shocked if he came over for next season, and that's perfectly fine. He plays a great development team in Serbia called Mega Leks that's had players like Nikola Jokic, Boban Marjanovic, Ivica Zubac and Timothe Luwawu. The Grizzlies can save a roster spot and money by keeping Zagorac in Serbia and feel comfortable that he is being properly developed by a really good organization.

As for Zagorac the player, he's got really good size on the wing, and while there's no official wingspan measurement, based on the tape, it's easy to tell he's very long. He's got long strides and moves very well in the open court. Zagorac controls his body very well in transition, where he is at his best, and he explodes off the floor to finish.


He's got good athleticism which helps him defensively, though he needs to become a better fundamental defender.

One of the aspects I love the most about Zagorac's game is his comfort level as a pick and roll ball handler. He's very decisive and reads defenses well. He'd showed the ability to pull up off the dribble if the defense shows a soft hedge or he can blow right past bigger defender on a hard hedge. Below, you'll see Zagorc's man jump the screen to the left so he immediately drives right for the finish.


Zagorac possesses advanced dribble moves, and he changed pace relatively well which allows him to create his own shot. He's been when shooting off the dribble, but he does show the ability to knock down three off the catch, albeit rather inconsistently. Below is a good example of Zagorac creating his own shot.


One final thing to like about Zagorac is that he always competes. He's constantly flying around the floor, and he has a motor that never stops running, He needs more seasoning before he's ready, but if you give it a few years, there's a chance Zagorac could stick in the league as a play-making rotation wing.

Wang Zhelin 7'0" 251 lbs. C, China

Admittedly, I was unfamiliar with Wang Zhelin before last nights draft. Without having actually wanted him play a full game, it's difficult to give a full assessment on his game, but I watched everything I could of him, so I'm going to give it my best shot.

Zhelin appears to move fairly well for his size. He's not a very good athlete, but he seems to have a pretty good base and at least decent footwork.

Many of his baskets come out of pick and roll sets where it looks like he has pretty decent hands. Here are a couple of examples:



Several other highlights involve Zhelin posting up where he appears to have at least a few rudimentary post moves. He isn't overly quick making the moves, but he does do a good job finishing over defenders when necessary.






From what I gather, Zhelin is a very old school, back to the basket type of big. He seemed to show a few counter moves in the highlights I saw, and like I said, I was pretty impressed with his hands and how comfortable he was catching the ball on the move.

I can't comment on his rebounding or defense because I didn't see him do either, but I did read that his defense needs to be improved.

It is also worth noting that I found a few highlights of him scoring on Hamed Haddadi, so maybe he was destined to be a Memphis Grizzly all along. Again, I think his value is probably just that the Grizzlies own his draft rights, but you never know.

Follow @sbngrizzlies