Over the next week, GBB will be profiling various players the Memphis Grizzlies may target in the 2022 draft. We’ll primarily look at who they may pick with the 22nd and 29th pick, or with a pick from a possible trade-up in the draft.
Caleb Houstan, Wing, Michigan
- 6’8”, N/A Wingspan, 205 Pounds, 19 years old from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
- Freshman Year at Michigan: In 34 Games (34 starts, 32.0 minutes per game), 10.1 points per game on 38.4% shooting (35.5% from 3, 78.3% on free throws), 1.4 assists per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, 0.7 steals per game, 0.2 blocks per game, 1.5 turnovers per game
- AWARDS AND ACCOLADES: N/A
- 3 STATS OF STRENGTH (per Tankathon): Fouls (1.9 per 36 minutes), Turnovers (1.7 per 36 minutes), 3PA Rate (.595)
- 3 STATS TO IMPROVE (per Tankathon): PER (11.8), Win Shares (0.085/40 minutes), Defensive Rating (106.8)
- CURRENT BIG BOARD POSITION: 60 (Tankathon), 48 (ESPN), 28 (CBS Sports)
How familiar do these attributes sound?
Wing with size.
Came into college from a loaded high school team.
One-and-done after a struggling freshman season.
These are the same features as Ziaire Williams coming into the draft. This year’s prospect that fits those same qualities is Michigan’s Caleb Houstan.
Houstan had a tough go in his freshman season at Michigan — scoring 10.1 points on 53% true shooting and on 48.9 effective field goal percentage. His inefficiency caused him to slip down draft boards.
Despite his underwhelming performance, there’s speculation Caleb Houstan shut down combine activities for a promise in the first round. This means there’s some team that buys into his tools to take a flier on in the first round. After all, wings with shooting and size are a premium in today’s NBA. The right development infrastructure in place can afford this “risk” — and it could probably pay off.
The Memphis Grizzlies have shown to fit that bill. Should Caleb Houstan be their upside swing?
Areas of Strength
Caleb Houstan’s primary role in the NBA will come as a 3-point shooter. There might be some eye-rolls, because his percentages in college don’t pop off the page — only shooting 35.3% from 3 this past season. However, there are good indicators that he could be more of a lethal weapon from downtown at the next level.
The common NBA 3-point translation barometer is free throw shooting, where Houstan made 78.3 percent of his attempts. Per Synergy Sports, Houstan scored 1.06 points per spot-up possession (134 total, 79th percentile), while also connecting on 1.063 points per catch-and-shoot possession and on 1.32 PPP for unguarded ones. In the NBA, this is how he will get his scoring opportunities.
Caleb Houstan was 22-for-60 (36.7%) on long distance threes this year at Michigan.— Ersin Demir (@EDemirNBA) June 6, 2022
I can see his shot translating in the NBA. The 6-foot-8 wing will be a good spot-up shooter for a lot of teams. Worth an early second round pick. pic.twitter.com/G07HFlRCTD
Houstan is also accustomed to a shooting specialist role already, as 59.5% of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc. He’ll trend around that number in the pros, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it be even higher.
These marks highlight how his transition from a main offensive feature, to a complementary piece should be a smooth one.
With his size, Caleb Houstan can be a good team defender. Though there isn’t an official wingspan listed for him, he possesses the size that can be problematic for perimeter players. If he keeps his man in front of him, they’ll have a tough time generating clean shots. At the next level, he’ll likely be tasked with guarding either forward position. There isn’t intriguing All-Defense upside with Houstan, but he can be good enough to be a neutral-to-plus defender.
Another impressive play from Caleb Houston. Has a very nice defensive possession defending Keegan Murray on the perimeter here as he stays with him on the drive and blocks his shot in the paint pic.twitter.com/VZt2tA0KnX— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) March 7, 2022
The framework is there for Caleb Houstan to be a solid 3-and-D wing at the next level.
Areas of Improvement
A lot of Houstan’s drawbacks are predicated around his subpar athleticism and burst.
Houstan doesn't project as a creator. He only shoot 0.578 points per possession off screens and 0.571 PPP as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. He also doesn’t finish well inside the arc either, shooting 23.9% (11-46) on far 2’s and 55.1% (38-69) on close 2’s. He lacks the burst to generate separate from defenders and to rise up over them as well. His handle isn’t great either. It’s not going to be a massive responsibility for him, but his creation limitations lower his ceiling.
While Houstan can become a solid defender, his lack of quickness can hurt him in space. If an offensive player creates an advantage against him downhill, it’s hard for him to recover — an element that might hurt him as a multi-positional perimeter defender. He also doesn’t generate a lot of defensive events either. Granted steals and blocks don’t tell the whole story defensively, but it’s an easier way to make an impact on that side of the ball when those occur.
Fit with the Grizzlies
Calen Houstan doesn’t exactly fit an “upside swing” play for the Memphis Grizzlies. Instead of a triple or home run outlook, it’s more of a double at best. And there’s nothing wrong with that either.
Houstan knows how to fit into a role, something he’s been used to since high school — played alongside Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, and Moses Moody at Monteverde. If Houstan needs to play a 3-and-D role off the bench, the transition would be seamless.
Once he’s ready for the role, probably around year 2, he can be a 9th or 10th man in either forward spot off the bench. In that spot, he can serve as a 3-and-D wing who doesn’t require a lot of shots to be effective offensively.
Houstan’s range is quite wide, especially with the speculation of the first round promise. If the Grizzlies drafted him with the 29th pick, it’d be a surprise, but it wouldn’t be totally upsetting. However, he should be near the top of their board with the 47th pick, or any other selection in the early-to-mid second round.
The Grizzlies have shown the willingness to take on prospects with his track record, through the upside and flaws. Could Zach Kleiman run that strategy back with Caleb Houstan?