The prospect profiles continue on Grizzly Bear Blues. For more, visit the “Memphis Grizzlies 2022 Draft Coverage” group to see more of our profiles on draft prospects and their potential fits with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Jake LaRavia, Forward, Wake Forest
- 6’8”, 6’9” wingspan, 227 pounds, 20 years old, from Indianapolis, IN
- Last season at Wake Forest:: In 33 games (34.2 minutes per game) — 14.6 points on 55.9% shooting (38.4% from 3, 77.7% from the FT line), 6.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.0 blocks
- Three-year college career (1 year at LSU, 2 years at Indiana State): In 88 games (29.5 minutes per game) — 12.2 points on 52.4% shooting (37.1% from 3, 74.3% from the FT line), 6.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.0 blocks
- 3 STATS OF STRENGTH (per Tankathon): True Shooting Percentage (64.9%), Assist%/Usage Ratio (0.98), Free Throw Attempt Rate (.529)
- 3 STATS TO IMPROVE: Turnovers (2.7), Fouls per 36 minutes (2.9), Scoring Rate (15.4 per 36 minutes)
- AWARDS AND ACCOLADES: 2019-20 MVC All-Freshman, 2020-21 All-MVC 2nd Team, 2021-22 All-ACC 2nd Team
- CURRENT BIG BOARD PLACEMENT: 33 (Tankathon), 31 (The Ringer), 32 (ESPN), 27 (CBS Sports), 21 (The Athletic), 18 (Bleacher Report)
The Memphis Grizzlies are fond of this particular positional archetype. They like big forwards that are high-IQ players with skill, playmaking, and good defensive instincts. These players also don’t have the perimeter skills to play the 3, and though they have played the 5 — and experienced moderate success at doing so — they’re still undersized for the center role.
Brandon Clarke, Kyle Anderson, Killian Tillie, Xavier Tillman, and Santi Aldama fall into this category. If Zach Kleiman wants to go for that type of player again, which he has done every offseason since his promotion to EVP of Basketball Operations, then look no further than Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia.
LaRavia checks a lot of boxes for the Grizzlies’ draft philosophy. He’s a high-IQ player that might be overlooked for age — he’s 20, but there was a prior misunderstanding that he was 22 — and for his subpar athleticism. However, he’s been a highly productive college player. He finished with a Box Plus/Minus of 7.9, and his defensive-BPM ranks among the best in this class.
Best defenders— The Box and One (@TheBoxAndOne_) May 28, 2022
Chet Holmgren (7.18)
Jaylin Williams (5.62)
Tari Eason (5.61)
Walker Kessler (5.48)
Kennedy Chandler (5.46)
Darius Days (5.39)
Vince Williams (5.14)
Jake LaRavia (4.98)
Paolo Banchero (4.44)
Jake LaRavia fits the mold of what the Grizzlies have targeted over the past 3 years. Is he someone that could be on their radar?
Areas of Strength
Jake LaRavia stands out as a versatile defender. He’s a big stocks guy, as he joins Jeremy Sochan, Tari Eason, and Julian Champagnie as the only players in the draft with a steal rate and a block rate both higher than 2.5. He’s someone that can switch across positions 1-4, using good footwork and physicality to stonewall defenders. He also possesses great instincts to knock the ball out for deflections, steals, and blocks.
Jake LaRavia's defense is pretty impressive. Versatile at 6'9 being able to guard wings, forwards, and point guards. 3 well-defended plays @ NC State pic.twitter.com/dggFcdKsBO— Mavs / Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) May 14, 2022
LaRavia is also a deft playmaker and is one of the best passing forwards in this draft class. He finished with an assist percentage of 20.0% — the only players 6’5” or taller in this draft class with a better mark were Dalen Terry and Wendell Moore Jr. His passing ability should come in handy when attacking closeouts and looking for open teammates off a defensive shift.
I don’t know Jake LaRavia’s transition numbers off the top of my head, but they must be among the best in the country. Such a quick decision maker and good hit ahead passer. When Wake runs (and they do, all the time), they look great. pic.twitter.com/nJKRyimylm— Chucking Darts NBA & Draft Podcast (@ChuckingDarts) January 23, 2022
LaRavia can score so efficiently. He boasts an effective field goal percentage of 60.4% and a true shooting percentage of 64.7 percent. He’s also a versatile scorer that can attack the defense in multiple ways.
- Spot up: 1.021 points per possession (73rd percentile)
- Transition: 1.228 PPP (81st percentile)
- Cuts: 1.286 PPP (71st percentile)
- Post up: 1.176 PPP (96th percentile)
- Isolation: 0.912 PPP (71st percentile)
(Per Synergy Sports)
That diversity won’t translate to him being this demigod scorer at the next level. However, it should point to his malleability as an offensive player, and how he’ll adjust to a lightened responsibilities. He’s going to primarily attack as a shooter and cutter, taking advantage of defenses keying in on more potent offensive weapons. That will suit him — and his eventual team well — as he scored 1.5 points per possession on unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers (92nd percentile among all players).
LaRavia’s versatility on both sides of the ball will make him a solid role player.
Areas of Improvement
A lot of LaRavia’s areas of improvement are centered around his athleticism.
Offensively, he doesn’t have the burst or the wiggle to shake defenders off the dribble to create his own shot. It could lead to him getting caught in no-man’s land if he pulls his dribble, as he doesn’t have the lift in his jumper to rise over defenders.
Defensively is where it gets tricky. He does have the versatility and the instincts to guard positions 1-4, and when his man is in front of him, he’s hard to pass. However, his subpar foot speed could hinder him in perimeter switches. If the offensive player creates an advantage, it’s hard for him to recover. He also has trouble staying in front of explosive perimeter players out on the perimeter.
In a league that’s more spaced out, and with better athletes, that area could make his impact as a team defender less felt.
These components of his game, especially his defense, could be the difference between him becoming a playoff rotation player, or staying a regular season one.
Fit with the Grizzlies
Could Jake LaRavia play a role in the rotation next year? Perhaps. However, it’s not as surefire as other prospects covered this week, Tari Eason and Jeremy Sochan.
If Kyle Anderson is on his way out, LaRavia would join Santi Aldama, Xavier Tillman, Killian Tillie, or any other acquisition to compete for the backup 4 spot. If he’s not the man for it, he’ll likely be sent to the G-League — getting game reps to stay sharp offensively, while adjusting to defenses against spaced-out NBA-caliber offensive systems.
The spacing Ja Morant would have with Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, LaRavia, and Jaren Jackson Jr. would absolutely rock.
I’m high on LaRavia, but he isn’t at the top of my board for picks 22 or 29. It’s more about the fit than the skill though. They have a slew of tweener forward/bigs. If he is the pick, they should waive Tillie, who’s only due $2M next season.
Regardless, the Grizzlies have a type, and Jake LaRavia fits the bill. If he’s indeed a Grizzly on draft night, it should come as no surprise — and it should come as no surprise if he’s an impactful player.
Stats found on sports-reference, barttorvik, and Synergy Sports