In three days, 60 athletes will find out where their new homes are in the NBA through this year’s draft. However, there are still plenty of players that are entering the draft this year that will likely not be on a team when the night is over. This doesn’t mean that they won’t find their way to a roster, though. This article will take a look at three players who will likely go undrafted that could be useful for the Memphis Grizzlies to sign in free agency.
However, before this is discussed, it is important to talk quickly about the Grizzlies’ current situation with Zach Randolph. For the past couple of weeks, the future of Randolph has been up in the air. Randolph, who has one more year on his contract with the Grizzlies, has the option to opt out of this last year and become of a free agent. Because of this, there has been a bit of a focus on looking into drafting a power forward for the team to use in case Randolph leaves Memphis. However, very recent reports are saying that the Grizzlies and Randolph are close to coming to terms to a contract extension, meaning that it is very likely that Randolph will be returning to Memphis next year. Because of this, the Grizzlies will most likely be using their only draft pick, the 22nd pick overall, to fill their biggest need of an offensive minded wingman. For that reason, the following players should not be seen as anything but potential talents that could compliment the team’s first round pick.
Joe Harris, Small Forward, Virginia
Even if it is assumed that the Grizzlies will be using their first round draft pick on a wingman, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t consider signing another one, as the team still desperately needs another strong perimeter scorer. Out of all the players who will likely go undrafted this year, Harris probably is the best sharpshooter of them all. Not only did he shoot over 40% beyond the arc during his last year at Virginia, but during the combine, he made 16 out of 25 NBA distanced three-point shots.
Harris may not be able to do much other than shoot: his wingspan is one of the worst in his draft class from a small forward, and he isn’t very athletic in comparison to most players. However, great perimeter shooters don’t always come around, and out of all the players that may go undrafted this year, Harris may be the one who has the best shot at succeeding at a professional level. With the Grizzlies lacking shooters beyond the arc and the team’s only true sharpshooting wingman, Mike Miller, being a free agent this year, the team is very likely considering signing someone to fill his void if he doesn’t return, and Harris may just be able to do that. No matter who the Grizzlies draft in the first round, Harris would be a good player for the front office to consider bringing in.
Akil Mitchell, Power Forward, Virginia
Even if Randolph returns to Memphis, it doesn’t change the fact that the team needs another power forward that can play defense. Randolph isn’t a great defender, and Ed Davis looks more like a draft bust than a long term player in the NBA. The Grizzlies need someone who is capable of coming in for a few minutes each game to contribute on defense. Akil Mitchell very well could be that guy.
Mitchell will likely not be drafted because he has no real offensive game. Last year, he averaged only 6.8 points per game when he was on the court an average of 25.7 minutes per game. He also had a terrible free throw percentage of only 42.7%. However, Mitchell has a good chance to find a place on an NBA team as a role player filling in for someone who isn’t the best defender, and the Grizzlies are a team that fit this bill. With a high basketball IQ and an average of 10.7 rebounds per 40 minutes, Mitchell would be a strong fit for the Grizzlies to back up the offensive-minded Randolph.
Lamar Patterson, Shooting Guard, Pittsburgh
Returning to the theme of finding a wingman with an outside shot, Patterson would be a fine choice to add to the team as a reserve player. He shot a respectable 39% beyond the arc last year at Pittsburgh, showing immense improvement from his Junior year as a shooter. He also is able to create opportunities for his own teammates. Patterson averaged 5.5 assists per 40 minutes last year at Pittsburgh, a very respectable number, and he had a knack for being able to shoot in traffic.
The Grizzlies could use someone like Patterson because, while he probably won’t be excellent at shooting anywhere, he seems like the type of player that is capable of making a shot from any location to varying degrees of success. Would he truly make a big statistical difference for the team? Probably not, but that would likely be the case with all of these free agents. Their job is to make sure that the core squad can take a couple minutes of rest without ruining the team’s lead or chances of making a comeback, and based on the various offensive skills Patterson appears to possess, he could fit that role in a fine manner for the Grizzlies.