The Memphis Grizzlies are in a familiar position. It is in the dog days of summer, and the basketball talking heads have started to make predictions for the upcoming NBA season. Time after time, the Grizzlies find themselves being disrespected by members of the national media and, this time, even Vegas odds. Then, the season goes much better than everyone thinks with the Grizzlies making the playoffs. Rinse and repeat.
However, this year, the Grizzlies will not have the same guys coming back to prove the naysayers wrong. This year, they will have to have a crop of some new faces to show the world this team can still make the playoffs.
If this is to happen, here are some of the options of younger Grizzlies that will have to step up in the 2017-2018 season.
Disclaimer: This is only counting guys who played minutes for Memphis last year. With the roster so crowded right now, it is hard to say which rookies will get quality minutes to make an impact.
Wade Baldwin IV: 2016 Stats- 12.3 MP, 1.4 TRB, 1.8 AST, 3.2 PTS
The first guy to look at is Wade Baldwin IV. He is a 21-year-old second year player from Vanderbilt. Memphis selected him 17th overall in the 2016 NBA draft. In his first year, Baldwin failed to show any signs of life as he only played in 33 games for the Grizzlies. Most of the season he bounced back and forth from the D-League. Depending on the growth of other players, this may end up being his fate this season as well, if he even makes the roster.
While most of his playing time came from garbage time, he shot an abysmal 13.6% from three. This is quite strange comparing this to his numbers in college. Baldwin was known as an athletic, sharp-shooter at Vandy having a career three-point percentage of 42.2%. His NBA defensive numbers are also tough to read into because of the time he is on the court but will give it his all on this side of the ball. The transition has not been easy for Baldwin, but he is still a young, raw player with a shred of upside still there.
He came into the league with great potential. He is 6’3” with a 6’10” wingspan that turned heads in workouts. However, now, this hasn’t been proven to result in NBA success. Wade Baldwin will have his work cut out for him this season with the addition of Mario Chalmers to consistently make the roster, or even at all. However, if he can channel his shooting stroke from college, he may be able to prove some early doubters wrong.
Deyonta Davis: 2016 Stats- 6.6 MP, 1.7 TRB, 1.6 PTS
Now, we get to a guy who has untapped potential that will hopefully grow into something this season. With the departure of Zach Randolph, Davis will definitely get an uptick in playing time this year. He is only 20 years old coming into his second year in the Association. He was a one-and-done at Michigan State with lots of potential to flourish in the NBA.
Last season with the Grizz, he competed in a crowded front court and was not able to really impact much at all. Davis is much like Baldwin in that he is a raw work in progress who needs the playing time to find his footing in the league. One area of his game that showed out in his rookie showing was his athleticism inside the paint. He brought shot blocking that paired nicely with Marc Gasol. Per 36 minutes, Davis averaged 2.6 blocks (which is inflated a bit because of his lack of minutes). This would bring the need of defensive verticality to the Grizzlies.
According to his projections from Draft Express, he was a highly-touted draft prospect that had stellar per minute offensive rebounding numbers at 4.6 per 40 minutes. If Davis can bring this possibility, along with his shot blocking, he can develop into a perfect big man in this league. Deyonta Davis will have the best shot of making that big jump to help the Grizzlies in his sophomore season in the NBA.