Memphis Grizzlies: Three first-round targets

The world is less than three weeks away from the 2014 NBA Draft. While there has been a lot of focus on the potential big stars that will be drafted early, there has been very little coverage on the players that will go later in the draft that could still be the missing puzzle piece a team needs. Such is the case with the Memphis Grizzlies, who, with only one draft pick in the first round, will aim to draft a player that will bring their team from being good to becoming a title contender. However, the team will also have to consider starting a rebuilding process in Memphis, as, between the multiple front office changes that are going on within the franchise and the possibility of the Grizzlies losing their biggest star, Zach Randolph, the current team’s structure may no longer be capable of contending for a title.

Last week, the skills that the Grizzlies need in their draft pick were covered, and a few players that have these skills were talked about briefly. This article, however, is going to take a look at three players that should be the highest on the Grizzlies’ radar. While none of these players should be looked at as future superstars in the NBA, they are all players that could contribute to the Grizzlies and address their weaknesses in at least some fashion.

K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson      

Clemson

K.J. McDaniels

A lot of people are linking McDaniels with the Grizzlies, and for good reasons.  Due to an impressive wingspan, his somewhat small height of 6’6” shouldn’t become an issue on defense, something that McDaniels excels at. He’s also is capable of making a shot from anywhere on the court, although his three point shot leaves a bit to be desired.

The main reason that McDaniels would be a great fit for the Grizzlies, though, is because he has a ton of athleticism. He is great at driving to the basket as well as grabbing rebounds. His athleticism also helps him defend taller players easier. This is the type of player the Grizzlies need, as the team doesn’t truly have too many athletic players.

As mentioned before, the Grizzlies are at the point where they have to make the tough decision of either continuing to chase for a title or to rebuild the team. However, McDaniels is a player that would fit into either of the team’s possible future paths. The benefit of having athletic players is that they tend to usually be able to do a little bit of everything on the basketball court. Such was the case with McDaniels, who was able to put up respectable numbers in just about every stat across the board last year at Clemson. Because of this, McDaniels could not only contribute right away to the team, but he should also improve as his career goes on. McDaniels may not be a flashy pick, but he should be a safer pick, which may be the direction the Grizzlies would want to go in.

T.J. Warren, SF/PF, North Carolina State

Warren is going to be a tough prospect to get. He’s very likely going to go to a team with a pick few spots earlier than the Grizzlies’ 22nd pick in the first round. However, if Warren falls to the Grizzlies’ spot in the draft, there is absolutely no reason not to draft him. Warren’s critics talk about his lackluster basketball I.Q., his poor defense, and his subpar shot beyond the arc. However, there is no denying that Warren is one of, if not the best, at scoring from the paint and midfield in this year’s draft.

The Grizzlies may benefit more from Warren than any other player the team would draft. With an average of 96.1 points per game, the Grizzlies scored the 4th fewest points out of the entire NBA last season. However, the team had the 3rd best defense in the league, allowing their opponents to only score 94.6 points per game. The Grizzlies already have two of the best defenders in the league in Tony Allen and Marc Gasol, so if giving an excellent scorer some playing time means sacrificing a bit of the team’s excellent defensive play, so be it. At 6’9’’, Warren is capable of playing both forward positions, which could come in handy if the Grizzlies still don’t know if Zach Randolph will stay in Memphis by draft day.

Warren is only 20 years old, so he will be coming into the NBA as someone who is not fully developed. Along with that, a lot of his flaws aren’t based around skill but rather things that can be taught by a good coach. Whether the Grizzlies have the tools that Warren would need in order to prosper in the NBA is a debate in its own right, but based on his offensive capabilities, Warren should be the unlikely but optimistic goal the Grizzlies strive for in this year’s draft.

Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA

Clemson Basketball

Kyle Anderson

Anderson is a very odd prospect. While he has a 6’8’’ frame and an impressive wingspan, Anderson was a point guard during the majority of his time on the court. A great passer and scorer, Anderson is expected to go a little later than his stats would suggest because nobody is quite sure how well his skills will transfer into the NBA. He has a slow shot and is a very poor defender that is likely to be out sped by almost anyone he may guard.

However, the Grizzlies need a good player on offense at the small forward position. The team doesn’t have too many scoring threats as is, and this is especially true at the small forward position. Tayshaun Prince is slowing down and really is only capable of defending slower small forwards, and Mike Miller is currently a free agent.

Anderson may be a risky player to draft, but if he’s around when the Grizzlies are on the clock, he may be a risk that the Grizzlies should be willing to take. The team desperately needs a bigger presence on offense, and while Kyle Anderson may end up being out of the league in a few years, the possibility for him to become one of the greatest shooters in the league is enough to warrant the Grizzlies to gamble on him.