The Memphis Grizzlies have no cap space.
The front office has completely mortgaged the Grizzlies’ future on the likes of Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Chandler Parsons. This is a tough pill to swallow for Grizzlies fans everywhere, but the future isn’t all that bleak. The Grizzlies don’t need to make a splash in free agency if the young players on the roster can continue to trend upwards. Thanks to creative swapping in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Grizzlies currently have a handful of young players that appear ready to contribute at a high level in 2017-2018.
Deyonta Davis is a 20-year-old defensive machine. Standing 6’11” with a 7’2 wingspan, Davis has all the makings of a future starting center in the NBA. Though his year never really got going (between plantar fasciitis and a crowded frontcourt), it appears that his best days are ahead of him as an NBA player. If the Grizzlies’ front office is forward thinking, they will dump Brandan Wright for a second round pick and throw all of the backup center minutes to the former Michigan State Spartan.
Marc Gasol doesn’t have many great years left; Fizdale and his staff would be wise to invest in getting Davis ready to be the man in the frontcourt. The fact that the Grizzlies don’t own a first round pick in 2017 or 2019 makes the development of the current roster imperative. Memphis has to be willing to trust Davis with 15-18 minutes a game next year if they wish to see him grow toward his ceiling as a player.
2017-2018 Best Case Scenario: Davis plays just a shade under 17 minutes a game and averages 7.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks on 63% from the field.
The oft-forgotten man from the Grizzlies’ 2016 NBA Draft, Zagorac is something of a mystery to most Grizzlies fans. Though the chatter around him is quiet, all signs point to the Serbian forward making his way across the Atlantic to join the Grizzlies for the 2017-2018 season. Lacking elite level NBA explosiveness, the lanky 21 year-old makes up for it with a deft shooting touch and crafty playmaking ability. Though he still needs to add some weight to his frame, Zagorac is NBA ready and hopefully will be able to fight for minutes in the second unit in 2017-2018,
Unfortunately, Memphis has a glut of players that slot as SF on their current roster. Chandler Parsons, James Ennis III, Zagorac, Jarell Martin, Wayne Selden, and Vince Carter (if he’s re-signed) will all see minutes at the small forward spot. If Parsons’ knees are right, that could limit the minutes that Zagorac will see next year. Odds are good though that Carter won’t see a ton of minutes and Martin will be cut or assigned to the D-League.
2017-2018 Best Case Scenario: Zagorac will carve out a respectable role on the second unit. Look for him to play 15-18 minutes a game at the SG/SF spot, average 7.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, and shoot 34% from the three point line.
Wade Baldwin IV
Wade Baldwin IV is the next in a long line of backup PGs for Mike Conley. He was drafted this year before the Grizzlies had re-signed the Conductor, and many anointed him as the backup before he ever suited up for Memphis. His season was a roller coaster to say the least. By no fault of his own, he was never in one place long enough to find his rhythm or get comfortable. His back and forth between Memphis and the Iowa Energy left the Grizzlies front office in the uncomfortable spot of not really knowing what they have in the youngster.
The physical tools are there. Baldwin IV stands 6’4” with an Inspector-Gadget type 6’11” wingspan. Andrew Harrison is serviceable, but Baldwin IV has all the tools to be a starting-caliber PG in the league. Here’s hoping that Wade Baldwin IV is able to have a great offseason and carry some momentum into the Summer League and training camp.
2017-2018 Best Case Scenario: Baldwin IV comes in and blows away the Grizzlies coaching staff. He wins the backup PG spot and makes Andrew Harrison expendable while averaging 19 minutes, 8 points, and 4 assists, and shooting 33% from deep.
Wayne Selden Jr.
Wayne Selden was a pleasant surprise for the Grizzlies in 2017. Though he was acquired at the cost of cutting fan favorite Troy Williams, Selden was serviceable when called upon during the final stretch of the season. In order to see consistent court time in 2017-2018, Selden is going to have to shoot it at a higher level. During the playoffs, Selden shot a paltry 18.2% from distance. That just isn’t going to cut it. Standing 6’5” with a sturdy 230 lb frame, Selden has an immediate leg up on Troy Daniels to win minutes at the backup SG spot. In order to do that, Selden is going to have to shoot it with more confidence and continue to improve his defensive positioning.
2017-2018 Best Case Scenario: Wayne Selden comes in with the swagger of a man that didn’t back down from trying to guard Kawhi Leonard. He shows an improved confidence shooting the ball and plays 18 minutes a game while averaging 6 points and 3.1 rebounds, and shooting 35% from deep.