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2022 NBA Draft Prospect Profiles: Ryan Rollins

Is he the smoothest shot-creating playmaker in the draft?

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NBA: Draft Combine David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next 3 weeks, 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 22th and 29th pick, or with a pick from a possible trade up in the draft.

Ryan Rollins, Guard, Toledo

  • 6’3.25”, 6’9.75 wingspan, 179lbs 19.92 years old from Macomb MI
  • Last Season at Toledo: In 34 games (32.7 minutes per game) 18.9 points per game on 46.8% FG (31% from 3, 80.2% Free Throw%), 6.0 rebounds per game, 3.6 assists, 1.7 steals
  • Two seasons at Toledo, In 64 games played (starter in all 64)—16.4 points per game(45.3% FG, 31.7% from 3, 79.6 Free Throw%, 5.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.2 blocks per game
  • 3 STATS OF STRENGTH (per Tankathon) 20.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists per game
  • 3 STATS TO IMPROVE 31.1% from 3, .304 3 Point Attempt Rate, 5.4 Box Plus Minus
  • AWARDS & ACCOLADES: Lou Henson Mid-Major All-America Team and First-Team All-MAC … MAC Freshman of the Year and All-MAC Honorable Mention as a freshman … Averaged over 25 points in high school earning First-Team All-State per NBAdraft.net
  • CURRENT BIG BOARD PLACEMENT: 39th (TANKATHON), 37 (ESPN), 22th (CBS SPORTS), 37th (The Athletic), 41st (Bleacher Report),

Mo’Town’s next splash of magic comes in a 19 year old guard, whom finished the season as a top 3 in the MAC conference & coming off of First Team All Conference honors. Ryan Rollins is also one of only two players under 20 years old in the entire nation to average at least 19 points this season. Rollins has developed a reputation for being a really skilled, talented shot-creating playmaker. Over two seasons at Toledo, Ryan Rollins averaged 16.4 points (on 45.3% shooting, 31.7% from 3, 79.6% Free Throw%), which earned him several All-MAC accolades. Rollins, who projects himself in the vein of CJ McCollum & Devin Booker, will certainly be an intriguing value prospect around the middle to back end of the draft as a shot-creating combo guard with great length displaying a 6’9.25 wingspan but a bit undersized at SG standing at just 6’3 and only 179 pounds.

Can his slender frame handle the NBA game? Can he be in the vein of Jordan Poole?

AREAS OF STRENGTH

The smooth-scoring 6’3, 179 pound guard averages around six rebounds for his career, along with a team-leading 16 points and nearly four assists per game. Such level of activity will catch the eye of any basketball savant. That is usually the stat-line of a hustler, who gives an honest effort for the most part. It also says to me he is a smart fellow who sees the court well and makes the smart plays when he isn’t scoring. The fact he has a decent assists to turnover ratio further backs the hoops IQ claim.

Rollins does this as a pretty skilled lanky guard with a very smooth delivery off the dribble. He makes it look effortless when getting to his spots on the floor, especially in the mid range.

Over the years, Rollins has become a more ambidextrous ball handler. His development going left hand has really come along strong as of late. He’s also learned to fully utilize the hesitation dribble to his advantage creating space. Excellent at using the last step quickness to catch defenders off guard & attack the rim while avoiding contact & keeping himself free enough to finish well.

Rollins has an excellent isolation game. He has become a wizard scorer in the mid range where he has been the most dangerous thus far. He has an array of moves, ball-handling options and finishes, so defending him one way will only last so long before he counters with another tool in his bag. He even uses the mid post to create a decent amount of shots for him. He uses both feet to rise providing a solid base to finish and compete in the air.

Rollins is a very solid passer who seems to perform well in PnR situations. If the roll man gets an angle on a shot, they can rely on Rollins to deliver a solid pass. He has excellent timing on kicks to open teammates. He surveys the court after the screen for any open teammates with a more efficient shot before looking for his own. The young fellow actually waits on his teammates to get open, as he probes the court and has a strong enough handle to do so, without being too prone to losing the ball. He utilizes his gravity pull on defenders to draw them his way and make an easy assist play for teammates. Rollins shows a lot of feel for the game, especially considering he’s still a young shot creating playmaker.

Rollins is a great help defender who does an excellent job playing the passing lanes. He uses his long wingspan well to disrupt the lanes and seal off certain areas of the court. He also reads passes well and usually knows the best decision on how to respond to ball movement. He’s not a great defender, but he’s a smart defender and he certainly gives the effort.

He rebounds at a monster rate, especially considering his size, clearly using his +6 wingspan to his advantage crashing the boards. Also reads the ball well coming off of the rim & knows what to do once in his possession. He’s excellent helping his big men inside versus waiting for catch-and-shoot opportunities like most smaller guards would. He was a double-double threat every night as a rebounder and scorer. Imagine how well that improves as his body matures, and he adds on any type of strength and explosion.

He has developed a reputation as a high character guy, which is a plus for a guy so young, being relied on as the primary shot-creator and playmaker at Toledo. Virtually everyone has had nothing but high praises for Rollins throughout his two-year career in the MAC. The same has been the case across the pre-draft process. His stat-stuffing raw stat-line and efficiency doing so, is consistent with his high-character reputation. It all screams a kid who earns his respect.

NCAA Basketball: MAC Conference Tournament - Toledo vs Ball State Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT

Rollins definitely needs to improve his shooting range efficiency. He has struggled shooting from deep thus far. He doesn’t attempt a lot of long range shots either, that can be good being it forced him to utilize the mid range, but it’s very much detrimental, especially amongst the NBA size and length, where spacing can come at a premium. As a scorer, he will have to vastly improve as a deeper shooter if he wants a chance in an NBA team’s rotation.

He lacks the size to absorb a lot of contact and certainly lacks explosion. I believe with NBA strength and conditioning this can be at least moderately improved. Ja Morant got away with being small and struggling as a shooter, because he’s a generational athlete and skill talent in nearly every other facet of hoops. Rollins, on the other hand, doesn’t have the speed to blow by NBA defenders. Looks to lean and draw fouls on players too often, and with recent rule changes favoring defenders, he will certainly need to find another route to get to the line.

Adam Spinella makes a great observation in that Rollins does well around the rim because of his array of skill-creating shots, but his lack of explosive athleticism leads to his struggles with creating separation on his shots.

Rollins can be helpless at times as an on-ball defender. The NBA won’t be any easier. His frame doesn’t help him, and he doesn’t have the strength nor athleticism to stay in front of his opponents much. He must be schemed around defensively to keep him in the floor currently. Despite his struggles, he isn’t a total orange cone on defense. Rollins does play good team defense and looks to provide help on drives and passes.

Again, I can’t stress how important it’s going to be for Ryan Rollins to get his body totally in the mix of NBA strength and conditioning. This will give him strength to absorb contact on both ends and potentially lighter, quicker feet with a little more bounce and twitch to be a more effective, versatile scorer. Until then, he should be treated as a mid-range, shot-creating, playmaker, who should always be paired with rim protection. He’s also one to reward his rim runners so it balances out.

FIT WITH GRIZZLIES

Be clear, Ryan Rollins’ high character reputation, effort all over the floor and offensive versatility, gives him a role on many teams. Rollins could already fit well with Morant in spurts. Rollins, being a pretty good passer, can provide secondary playmaking that allows Ja some ball-handling relief to focus more on scoring in spurts. Rollins also runs a very effective PnR or PnP that bodes well for Steven Adams and Jaren Jackson Jr. This also puts Rollins in the mid range, which is his favorite area of the floor currently, and it’s where he’s arguably most effective as a scorer.

On Memphis second unit he provides the shot-creator the bench badly needed this postseason. When Ja Morant and Desmond Bane weren’t scoring, there was virtually no shot creation. Rollins can improve that immediately. His willingness to crash the boards from his position and create for others will build trust with his coaches and teammates.

He likely won’t ever be a great defender, but is smart enough and works hard enough for a coach to scheme around enough to utilize his main skills which are offensively. Defensive wings are nearly redundant for Memphis at this moment if you ask me.

The team needs reliable shot-creating scorers, especially off the bench. Rollins has all of the tools to become a Jordan Poole level 6th man. Adding such a scoring talent to Memphis bench puts them much closer to a championship team. He may end up splitting his rookie season between Beale Street and Goodman Road with the Memphis Hustle. However if given any extended chance to prove himself, he can carve out a permanent role as a super sub scorer.

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