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2022 NBA Draft Profiles: Patrick Baldwin Jr.

As one of the more polarizing prospects in the 2022 NBA draft, Patrick Baldwin Jr. is an intriguing case of pedigree vs. production.

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Syndication: Journal Sentinel Dave Kallmann / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

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.

Patrick Baldwin Jr., Wing, Wisconsin Milwaukee

  • 6’9”, 230 pounds, 7’2” Wingspan, 19 years old from Green Bay Wisconsin
  • Freshman Year at Milwaukee-Wisconsin: In 11 games (10 Games Started) 28.5 Minutes Per Game, 12.1 Points Per Game on 34.4% shooting from the field (26.6% from three, 74.3% from the line), 5.8 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists per game, 0.8 steals per game, 0.8 blocks per game, 2.1 turnovers
  • Awards and Accolades: N/A
  • 3 Stats of Strength (per Tankathon): Rebounds (7,3 per 36 minutes), Usage (28.3%), Fouls (1.9 per 36 minutes)
  • 3 Stats to Improve (per Tankathon): TS% (45.0), OFF RTG (89.3), Box +/- (-1.8)
  • Current Big Board Rankings: 24th (Tankathon), 39th (ESPN), 34th (The Ringer), 20th (CBS Sports), 16th (Bleacher Report), 20 (The Athletic)

In today’s NBA, the ability to find sources that can offer the advantageous combination of shooting/shot-creation with size is all the rage. And for good reason, as the more sources of shooting teams have, the easier it is for them to achieve offensive balance and consistency. In terms of the 2022 NBA Draft, few prospects offer a more intriguing mixture of shooting and size than Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Of course, this should not come as a surprise. For years, Patrick Baldwin Jr. was considered among the best prospects in this class, including being ranked fifth in the 2021 Top 100 recruiting class with some of the this draft class’s top names. Without a doubt, Baldwin Jr. has carried the pedigree of a potential Top-10 pick for years. Even a year ago, Baldwin Jr. seemed destined to be one of the first names called off the board in this draft.

However, over the past year, reality has not supported past projections. For one, Baldwin Jr. decided to attend Wisconsin-Milwaukee to play for his father instead of other big time programs. Secondly, Baldwin Jr. suffered an ankle injury during his senior year of high school that he again injured during his freshman year in college. This not only limited Baldwin to playing only 11 games during his lone year in college, but also was a factor in his struggles when he was actually on the court.

As a result, Baldwin Jr. is no longer considered a lottery selection. While there is a good chance he will be a first round pick, there are far more questions than answers that surround Baldwin Jr. than many predicted a year ago. He presents one of the more interesting cases of pedigree vs. production in recent years when it comes to a potential draft pick.

Areas of Strengths

When it comes to Baldwin Jr., his main strength is very easy to identify. At 6’10’ with a seven-foot wingspan, the smoothness at which Baldwin can produce a shot is highly impressive. When Baldwin is in rhythm, he has the unique ability to find his shot from nearly anywhere due to his size making it very hard to alter his shot.

Along with his natural physical advantages, there is also clear confidence in Baldwin Jr.’s approach. He attempted 5.8 threes per game during his time at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and also displayed the range to be a shooting threat teams may have to recognize from all over the court at the NBA level. Though his accuracy and shot selection are certainly areas to improve, Baldwin Jr.’s potential as a shooter with NBA spacing is highly intriguing as he matures.

For many of the same reasons Baldwin Jr. is highly intriguing as an offensive prospect, there also is potential in his defensive game as well. With his long arms, Baldwin Jr. showed flashes as a shot blocker and defensive rebounder when on the court. While he may never be a true defensive asset at the NBA level, Baldwin’s natural size and length offers a lot of natural ability for NBA teams to work with. Especially for a team like the Grizzlies who have shown the ability to develop the defensive potential of players into production, Baldwin Jr. has the potential to be a passable defender at times with work in an NBA program.

Overall, there is no doubt what makes Baldwin Jr. attractive is his offensive potential. Especially with his confidence to take tough shots when needed and the range he displays for a player his size, there is obviously significant upside in his game as an offensive contributor at the next level.

Areas to Improve

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Dave Kallmann / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Everywhere.

If the lack of stats and numbers in the areas of strength portion of this piece stood out, that was the intent. Baldwin Jr. produced very little positive production when he was on the court during his freshman season. He made only 34.4% of his shots, including 26.6% of his 3s. To be fair, a lack of talent around Baldwin Jr. and his ankle injury likely contributed to his lack of production. However, Baldwin Jr. produced only 17 assists compared to 23 turnovers in 314 minutes of play. When teams looked to crowd Baldwin Jr., he elected to take low percentage shots instead of creating for teammates for better looks. This indicates that Baldwin Jr. has a lot of room to go when it comes to his decision-making and his ability to add value when on the court outside of his ability to shoot.

On defense, despite some potential simply due to his natural physical gifts. there were many instances where Baldwin Jr. offered questionable effort when on the court in college. When considering the difference Baldwin Jr.’s natural ability should have made against the level of competition he was playing while on defense, opposing players found success too easily at times. Baldwin Jr. averaged nearly a steal and block per game, which shows he can be disruptive if effort is present. However, his lack of effort and inconsistency is certainly concerning. For Baldwin Jr. to become a player NBA teams can trust to keep on the court, he must avoid being a defensive liability that will take away from the value he produces offensively. At this point, he likely has a ways to go to be trusted on an NBA court for long stretches when it comes to his defense.

Another factor that could limit Baldwin Jr.’s ability to be a consistent three-level scorer in the NBA and his overall ability as a defender is his lack of athleticism. He does not possess an effective first step to get to rim at this point in his career nor does he possess elite leaping ability (as seen above.) Even with high shooting potential, Baldwin Jr. seems to be more of a stationary talent than one who can move effectively. This will really limit his ability to create his own offense or his ability to be effective against quicker talents defensively. In other words, the more Baldwin Jr. has to rely on others on both ends of the court to help him be effective, the less room for error he has to work with to become a relevant NBA talent. This is another indicator that Baldwin Jr.’s path to becoming a reliable NBA rotation piece could be a long journey that requires plenty of patience.

Finally, health is another factor that must be in place for Baldwin Jr. The ankle injury that he has experienced two years in a row has significantly slowed his development and obviously added uncertainty to his long term prospects. Even if teams do find he has a clean bill of health, Baldwin Jr. must prove he can put the necessary work in to maintain good health for him to reach the enormous potential he still possesses.

Fit with the Grizzlies

NCAA Basketball: Wis.-Milwaukee at Florida Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, a prospect with Baldwin Jr.’s track record would seem to be a highly unlikely target for what the Grizzlies value in a potential draft pick.

However, that perspective changed a bit when the Grizzlies drafted Ziaire Williams. Like Baldwin Jr., Williams was a highly touted high school recruit with impressive pedigree that struggled to stay on the court and with his production in his lone year of college. However, once the Grizzlies really got the know the type of person and player Williams is, they found a talent they felt could be highly productive and develop quickly within there system. While many questioned (including myself) the Grizzlies taking Williams at 10 in the 2021 draft, he showed plenty of development during his rookie year to once again prove Memphis is one of the best teams when it comes to drafting in recent years.

As a result, the Grizzlies showed they are willing to take a chance on natural talent despite questionable production. Memphis will go the “high risk/high reward” route if they believe in the talent and the player’s willingness to improve. From a talent perspective, Baldwin Jr. possesses a size/skill/shooting upside combo from a big wing that Memphis could certainly benefit from in future years. However, in terms of overall contributions, Baldwin Jr. does not currently project to be as clear of a source of value in other areas outside of shooting as a player like Williams was last year. Plus, Baldwin Jr. must also prove to teams he can overcome questions about his ability to stay healthy and effort levels on defense.

In the end, it seems there are more certain and sensible options for the Grizzlies to choose with their first round picks than Baldwin Jr. However, the Grizzlies are in one of the best positions in the league to take a risk on a talent like Baldwin Jr. and make it pay off with how well they develop players. Plus, in terms of being a late first round pick, the Grizzlies would not be making as big of an investment in Baldwin Jr. as they have in some of their other young talents.

While I think it is unlikely Baldwin Jr. is a Memphis selection on draft night, it is hard to deny he has some of the highest upside of the talents that will likely be available when Memphis is on the clock on June 23rd.

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