With the 17th overall pick already in their possession and some reaches being made earlier in the first round, the Grizzlies were primed to get a great value for their selection.
They did just that in taking Vanderbilt guard Wade Baldwin IV. But they weren’t done yet.
There was another prospect plummeting down the board in Michigan State big man Deyonta Davis. Ranked as the no. 9 prospect in the CBS Sports Rankings, Davis was undoubtedly talented. There were a lot of questions surrounding his fall. Was he injured? Did he request to go to a specific team?
No, it was none of those. It came to the surface that there were concerns about Davis’ work ethic. What better place to improve that than in Memphis? The Grizzlies saw an opportunity and managed to trade up to the 31st overall selection to snag the talented big man.
In his one season at MSU under Tom Izzo, Davis was great in a limited role. While he only averaged 18.6 minutes per game, he posted a good stat line of 7.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in those limited minutes.
Davis displayed a complete game for a big man in today’s NBA. He could block shots, rebound, and run the floor, and he showed off a developing mid-range jump shot. Davis is a new school big man in the small-ball era of the NBA, with the athleticism and skill to play the 4 in a traditional lineup and the 5 if the team wants to go small.
This gives him a great opportunity with the Grizzlies. With old-school big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, already on the team, they can implement their styles and work ethic into the game of Davis.
With the hard-nosed style of play and culture that has made Memphis so good in recent years, Davis will be forced to either play hard or sit. For a player who played well under Izzo, I imagine his motor will fare just fine. Randolph and Gasol were both grinders (early on in their careers) who polished their skills as they went on.
Davis has the opportunity to see a different trajectory. His skills, while raw, are top notch, and practicing with Randolph and Gasol every day will certainly bring the best out of him.
The Grizzlies’ culture is among the strongest and most influential in the NBA. This is the organization that managed to ground Lance Stephenson and bring great play out of him. ZBo himself was considered an enigma before finding his home in Memphis.
Many NBA teams appeared to worry about the future of Deyonta Davis in the NBA, and perhaps those worries were justified. But there isn’t a better team that Davis could have gone to. If any NBA team is going to max out his potential, it’s going to be the Grizz. Learning behind their established bigs will give him the time to develop his skills further, and also answer any questions about his motor.
With Davis, the Grizzlies will see a mixture of the old-school and new-school NBA big man on their roster. And if it goes well, Memphis may have found their heir-apparent to Randolph down low.