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The Grizzlies move forward with their type

The Memphis Grizzlies have a type. It’s worked. Why stop now?

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NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

In the first round of the 2022 draft, the Memphis Grizzlies selected Jake LaRavia and David Roddy with the 19th and 23rd picks — while giving up the De’Anthony Melton and the 22nd and 29th picks.

The Grizzlies stuck with the brand there.

The Grizzlies eye highly-productive college players, regardless of their age and physical limitations. LaRavia and Roddy fit the bill there. There was an age misconception with LaRavia, as many people thought he was actually 22 years old, not 20 years old. The correction helped him fly up boards. Roddy is another 3-year college player, and his measurements are bonkers. He’s a 6’6” wing/forward with a 6’11” wingspan, and he also weighs 260 pounds — truly a unique prospect by the measurements.

Their productivity is off the charts. Per Tankathon’s +/- scale, there are an overwhelming amount of positives.

Age and physical limitations, be damned. Pick good basketball players. Simple as that!

LaRavia and Roddy’s skillset also fits the MO for the Memphis Grizzlies. They prioritize playmaking and shot-making from all over the floor, and those 2 players should fill in well in complementary roles off the bench. In college, they both showed prowess in the post — as LaRavia ranked in the 96th percentile in post efficiency (1.176 PPP), and Roddy in the 92nd percentile (1.095 PPP), per Synergy Sports. While the post won’t be their primary offensive weapon in their arsenal, there’s belief they can fit into any role possible.

LaRavia/Roddy Scoring Efficiency/Grades

Spot Up Transition Cuts Isolation Catch and Shoot
Spot Up Transition Cuts Isolation Catch and Shoot
1.021 PPP (73rd percentile - "very good") 1.228 PPP (81st percentile - "very good") 1.286 PPP (71st percentile - "very good") 0.912 PPP (71st percentile - "very good") 1.19 PPP (82nd percentile - "very good")
0.945 PPP (61st percentile - "good") 1.106 PPP (66th percentile - "very good") 1.683 PPP (98th percentile - "excellent") 1.082 PPP (90th percentile - "excellent") 1.305 PPP (93rd percentile - "excellent")
LaRavia/Roddy Scoring Efficiency/Grades Synergy Sports

These markers highlight their scalability, as they transition towards smaller roles in the NBA.

Another type to monitor with these players is the archetype. Zach Kleiman has targeted these interesting big forward prospects — Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman, Santi Aldama, Killian Tillie, and now LaRavia and Roddy. They are these forwards that can play the 5 in pinches, but are a bit undersized for the most part. Then there are limitations to them playing the 3 — ranging from ball-handling, to mobility, to shooting.

With the selections of LaRavia and Roddy, that question becomes more complex. There are different layers that’ll need to be addressed over the next several months.

For starters, can either LaRavia and Roddy play the 3? Honestly, it’s likely. LaRavia can likely do so, because of his outside shooting and his cutting. The question with him will be tied to his ability to defend in space against NBA wings. Roddy probably can as well, as he’s a good perimeter scorer as a cutter, shooter, and isolation player. Again, defense will be the question with him. As a 260 pound wing/forward, can he keep up with NBA wings on the perimeter?

Taylor Jenkins did have stretches of playing Killian Tillie and Santi Aldama at the 3. I’m sure he’ll try so with LaRavia and Roddy, and he should experience more success with that experiment, because they possess more perimeter skills than the incumbent forwards.

Zach Kleiman did express he sees LaRavia and Roddy as “combo forwards” that can play both positions 3 and 4. He praised their “underrated” defensive chops, and added that their shooting should be beneficial in frontcourt lineups with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke.

What I’ll be monitoring is how it affects the rest of the roster going forward. Aforementioned, the Grizzlies have several players off the bench that overlap in the same positional archetype. It creates an imbalance where they need another 2-guard off the bench, after losing De’Anthony Melton in a trade.

How will the Grizzlies clear up the logjam?

These picks may indicate Kyle Anderson won’t be back. Killian Tillie’s small $2M deal might be an easy roster spot to open. Xavier Tillman could be another player on the move; it may hinge on how he looks in a potential Summer League appearance. Brandon Clarke is a likely extension candidate.

The Grizzlies are rarely an inactive transactional team, as they made 4 or more trades in the 2019 and 2021 offseason’s. It wouldn’t be surprising if we see some more shuffling to create some more roster balance.

NCAA Basketball: San Diego State at Colorado State Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies moved forward with their type: productive college players that can score in a variety of ways, move the basketball, makes plays defensively, and possess a combination of skill and size.

Jake LaRavia and David Roddy are good picks for the Memphis Grizzlies. Their skillset has been a common theme for the Grizzlies in their player acquisitions over the past several seasons. Now we wait to see how Taylor Jenkins and his coaching staff develop and utilize them. Either player can compete for rotation minutes, as the roster stands. Kyle Anderson’s free agency could open up minutes for a backup forward spot, and Jenkins has shown inclination to play rookies. LaRavia and Roddy may contribute day 1, and they have the potential to do so as well.

The Grizzlies have a type. It’s worked for them thus far. Why stop now?

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