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Having fun figuring things out with David Roddy

While many things about the Grizzlies are fun, David Roddy being the latest young player to show noticeable progression is a joy.

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Many things about the Memphis Grizzlies are fun.

Of course, that starts with the fact that they are winning a lot of basketball games. Outside of game results though, this is a roster full of young and joyous personalities that love having a good time and simply playing basketball together. It shows through their style of play, celebrations before and after games, and bench reactions on game nights. It also is clear in media sessions, social media exchanges, and interviews across various platforms. This is clearly a group that loves to have fun and, as a result, is a source of fun for so many who cheer for them.

And yet, the fun also comes from seeing the young talent on this roster continue to mature and progress with time. From Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. to Brandon Clarke and John Konchar, nearly every player the Grizzlies have drafted, no matter which role they currently fill, has significantly progressed during their NBA career. The hope is that the next wave of young Grizzlies will continue that trend. While the overall ceilings of Santi Aldama, Zaire Williams, Jake Laravia, David Roddy, and Kennedy Chandler many not be as high as the team’s best talents, their present and future progression and production is critical to the Grizzlies becoming a contender. Fortunately, early results for each of these players seems to be at a satisfactory level or better.

And the best part is, it has been a lot of fun to see all of them figure things out. The overall progression of Williams last year was a joy to see, while Aldama’s ascension into the rotation over the summer was a blast to witness. LaRavia and Chandler, while a bit limited to either injuries or G-league commitments, have produced some exciting moments so far this season. But perhaps the most intriguing and somewhat unexpected yet entertaining development is watching David Roddy figure out how to find success in the NBA game on the fly.

Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Coming into this season, it seemed reasonable to expect the role for LaRavia and Roddy to mimic how the Grizzlies handled Williams and Aldama last year. LaRavia would likely find limited minutes in the rotation, while Roddy would spend the majority of his time in the G-league with Chandler and others. However, multiple injuries opened up rotation minutes, and Aldama and Roddy filled spots in the rotation while Laravia, Williams, and others returned to health. As a result, it has truly been a quick learning curve/baptism by fire for Roddy, with plenty of struggles and teaching moments along the way.

Early on, the results for Roddy indicated that the transition to the NBA is obviously no easy task. While he was receiving a healthy dose of minutes, Roddy struggled much more than he succeeded. Over the first seven games of the season, Roddy shot 28.3% from the field and only 16% from three. Outside of scoring, Roddy showed a few flashes of contribuitng on the boards and defensively, but he certainly got off to a slow start. Of course, with new players getting familiar with new roles and critical players out with injury, the Grizzlies bench as a whole had a less than ideal beginning to the season.

Despite Roddy’s struggles, the Grizzlies maintained a simple philosophy with him that they had displayed with many others, a philosophy that has been one of the biggest reasons why the roster has consistently exceeded expectations under Zach Kleiman and Taylor Jenkins.

The coaching staff continued to play and trust Roddy.

Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Though his minutes went down slightly in early November, clear progress began to be evident. The reason why is because Roddy started to show signs of figuring out his offensive game in multiple areas at the same time. In his first seven games, Roddy was 5-11 at the rim and 4-25 from 3. Over the next eight games, he was 9-12 at the rim and 8-21 from three. Part of the improvement was obviously natural progression with repetition and experience, but Roddy’s basketball IQ and instincts were also on display. For one, he started to trust his movements and body more to create good looks near the basket. Secondly, he started to find his comfort with high percentage looks on corner 3s. In other words, Roddy was building his confidence by finding success taking advantage of what opposing defenses were giving him.

Roddy’s success continued for all of November, as he shot 66.7% at the rim and 57.9% on his corner threes. In fact, among his fellow rookies, Roddy was the most productive three-point shooter from the corner in November, making the most corner threes and producing the highest 3P% with the second most attempts. Furthermore, in terms of threes overall among NBA rookies, Roddy was fifth in threes made and had the best 3P% (40.5%) among the seven rookies who attempted 40 or more threes in November. In other words, among his peers, Roddy one of the more consistent three-point shooters in November simply by finding his niche as a corner specialist.

As the calendar has shifted to December, Roddy has cooled off a bit from three, only making 23.3% (7-30) of his threes so far this month. However, as another sign of his continued growth, Roddy has increased his production near the rim. While the threes are not falling, Roddy has increased his shot attempts in the paint from 2.4 in November to 3.4 in December. And after shooting 66.7% at the rim and 20% on all other paint shots in November, Roddy is shooting 82.6% at the rim and 40% on all other shots in the paint.

Miami Heat v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

This indicates clear progression in Roddy’s offensive evolution and approach. After struggling in general in October, Roddy started to improve from distance and near the rim in November. However, as Roddy is now running into a lack of luck from three, he is countering that by increasing the number of attempts he takes near the rim. Furthermore, he is also becoming even more accurate as his attempts increase. And considering Roddy is being assisted on just under 58% of his two point shot attempts, his success is not overwhelmingly reliant on the playmaking of others. Roddy can find his own shot or can finish opportunities from others, showing he can be a versatile option for the Grizzlies to utilize. And with the improvement Roddy has shown in terms of his decision making and accuracy, the Grizzlies have reason to show more trust in that utilization.

The current results of Roddy’s progression and efforts is that he quietly has become one of the better rookie scorers in the league. He is 11th in points and 7th in three pointers made for the season. He also has become one of the best rookie finishers in his class, currently ranking 4th in FG% within eight feet of the rim among rookies (min. 50 shots). As the Grizzlies have continued to show consistent trust in Roddy’s shot selection, he has consistently improved in his productivity in quality.

On the night that Zach Kleiman drafted LaRavia and Roddy, the first reason he mentioned as to why he targeted both players was shot value/quality. He wanted the Grizzlies depth to be more consistent at finding the best shot possible on each possession. While that does involve taking better looks from three, it also involves knowing when and where to take the best look based on the opposing defense. Roddy’s balance of shooting from distance and near the rim, plus his improvement in accuracy in both areas, shows his shot value/quality continues to get better with each passing month. This is a big reason why he has remained an important part of the Grizzlies bench, and has contributed to the Grizzlies once again featuring one of the best reserve units in the league.

Now that Ziaire Williams has returned from injury, it may seem that Roddy’s playing time could be reduced moving forward. Desmond Bane’s eventual return could result in that outcome as well. However, with LaRavia now working more with the Hustle, it is clear that among the rookies on the Memphis roster, Roddy is currently the priority. And he continues to take full advantage of it, as he recently produced a career-high 15 points against Milwaukee, the top defense in the league.

Charlotte Hornets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Regardless of his role, Roddy has clearly shown that not only does he belong in the NBA, he also has the skill, instinct, and IQ to continue to progress, especially offensively. Much like Williams, Roddy will naturally improve in other areas outside of scoring to offer more value. But when it comes to his scoring and offensive approach, his progression and versatility is certainly impressive.

Furthermore, it has also been a lot of fun to see him figure things out. And as he continues to do that, the Grizzlies will become even more fun to watch and enjoy.

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