Over the next month, GBB will be profiling various players the Memphis Grizzlies may target in the 2021 NBA Draft. This year we will be breaking it up in to three sections - five to likely trade up for, five potentially available right around pick #17 where Memphis is slotted to pick, and five that surely will be there or perhaps the Grizzlies could even trade back and still select.
First up in our list of players who are surely to be available at #17 or in a trade back - Former Oregon Duck Chris Duarte
Chris Duarte, Guard, Oregon
- 6’6”, 190 lbs (6’7” wingspan), 24 years old, from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
- Senior season with Oregon - 34.1 minutes per game, 17.1 points per game on 43.2% shooting (42.4% from beyond the arc, 81% from the free throw line), 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.9 steals
- ADVANCED STATS OF STRENGTH (per Tankathon) - True Shooting (65.7%), PER (26.6), Box Plus Minus (11.5), 3-Point Attempt Rate (47.8%)
- ADVANCED STATS TO IMPROVE - Free Throw Rate (26.2%), Draft Age (24)
- AWARDS AND ACCOLADES - First Team All-Pac-12 (2021), Pac-12 All-Defensive team (2021), Jerry West Award for top shooting guard (2021), Third-team All-American (via AP, 2021)
- CURRENT BIG BOARD PLACEMENTS - 21st Overall (Tankathon), 20th Overall (Ringer), 22nd Overall (ESPN), 27th Overall (CBS Sports), 16th Overall (The Athletic)
Chris Duarte fits nearly perfectly with what the Grizzlies have done in the last couple of drafts under Zach Kleiman. There really isn’t a major knock on Duarte other than that he is “old” by NBA standards for those in the draft. Brandon Clarke, Desmond Bane and Xavier Tillman were all really solid college players who slipped in previous drafts, mostly due to their age or “low ceiling”.
NBA teams continuing to overthink prospects age could very well lead to Duarte being available to the Grizzlies at 17th overall, or even in the low or mid 20’s should the Grizzlies trade back in the draft.
All it takes is one team to fall in love with Duarte, and he could be gone by the time the Grizzlies are on the clock, but it still seems likely that the Grizzlies will be on the clock with him still on the board. The question will become, should the Grizzlies take him?
What he does well
Chris Duarte is an absolute sniper from beyond the arc. He’s not a great shot creator, but he uses his nonstop movement to get open looks off screens, handoffs and by simply running around until he finds himself open. Duarte shot nearly 43% from beyond the arc on over 5 attempts per game in his senior season at Oregon, which is good for nearly half of his shot attempts per game. When he wasn’t letting it rain from beyond the arc, Duarte flashed the ability to finish with both hands around the rim on drives to the basket.
Duarte’s constant movement on offense also translates to the defensive side of things, where his hustle makes him a decent rebounder for a shooting guard while also creating a lot of deflections and steals on the defensive end as he attacks passing lanes off the ball. Duarte has good defensive fundamentals and plays tough to make up for lack of size.
Where he can improve
Since most of Duarte’s offense comes from jumpshots, he doesn’t get to the free throw line much. Adding a bit more to his driving game would go along way with getting him some looks at the free throw line, where his 3-point shooting should translate into successful points from the charity stripe. Duarte was also a mediocre playmaker at Oregon, struggling to rack up the assists for the Ducks. He isn’t selfish, by any means, but just lacks the floor vision to be a secondary facilitator at the two-guard spot.
The primary downside to Duarte doesn’t really have much to do with what he does on the court, more so than things that are out of his control. His age is a concern for most teams, since apparently 24 is the new 34 when it comes to drafting NBA prospects. Duarte’s 6’6” frame also will limit him some on the defensive end at the NBA level. He doesn’t project to be a switchable defender since teams can attack him with bigger players and his lateral movement may not be enough for quick guards.
Chris Duarte would be a perfect fit for the Grizzlies... if they didn’t draft Desmond Bane last season. Duarte would bring a lot of good qualities to the Grizzlies, but those qualities are overshadowed by the depth the Grizzlies have at the shooting guard position. As of today, Duarte would be behind Dillon Brooks, Grayson Allen, Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton on the Grizzlies depth chart. There’s also no guarantee that Duarte would get minutes over John Konchar either. To put it simply, as the roster currently stands, Duarte would be a poor fit on the Grizzlies for the 2021-2022 season.
That said, there are certainly avenues the Grizzlies could take to where Duarte becomes a better fit in Memphis. The Grizzlies could make some trades this offseason to free up some minutes by shipping out Grayson Allen or any of the other two guards on the roster. The Grizzlies could make the moves this offseason, or make them throughout the season heading into next offseason and give Duarte a redshirt year with the Hustle in Southaven.
Duarte fits the prospect profile the Grizzlies have looked for in previous drafts, but the current depth on the team makes it unlikely Duarte joins former Duck Dillon Brooks in Memphis. There’s simply too much movement to be done on the Grizzlies part to free up minutes for Duarte for the first few seasons of his career.
I imagine the Grizzlies like Duarte, and could even select him depending on how things unravel on draft night, but I ultimately think that there are comparable prospects who better fit their positional needs on the board whenever they are on the clock.
Duarte is available when the Grizzlies make their pick in the draft, but the Grizzlies pass on Duarte due to their logjam at the shooting guard position.