Through this year’s NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies attempted to fix some of their biggest needs as a team. As one of the worst teams on offense last year, the Grizzlies desperately needed another scorer from the wing with a great shot from beyond the arc. The team also needed another power forward, as Zach Randolph’s future was still up in the air at this point in time. However, the Grizzlies originally only had one draft pick, so they would have not been able to fill both of these needs without making a trade. Thankfully, the Grizzlies were able to find another team willing to make a transaction, so they were able to enter the second round of this year’s draft, and, because of this, they were able to draft two players to try and fill both these needs.
This article will grade both of the Grizzlies’ draft picks this year, Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes. After looking at both of their strengths and weakness, a conclusion will be reached on how they can both contribute to the team and, ultimately, how well spent each draft pick was.
Jordan Adams, Shooting Guard, UCLA
When Adams was drafted 22nd overall by the Grizzlies, it must of left some people baffled. While the team does need another wingman, the Grizzlies needed one that had a good outside shot. Although Adams did shoot a respectable 35.6% beyond the arc last year, there were a few players still on the board when the Grizzlies drafted who were better shooters from three-point range, such as Kyle Anderson. Also, while a shooting percentage of 35.6% from outside is fine for a college player, it’s nothing spectacular, and with the farther distance between the basket and the three-point line in the NBA than in college, it is doubtful that he will be the sharpshooter the Grizzlies need without some practice. Adams is also not very athletic, as he needed to slim down to truly make a bigger impact last year than the year prior.
However, Adams does have some traits that the Grizzlies desperately need in a player. Adams had the highest field goal percentage out of all shooting guards that entered the draft this year at 48.5%. He is also one of the best finishers near the rim in this year’s draft despite his poor athletic abilities. These two features combined make it easier to understand why the Grizzlies drafted him, because, despite needing a player who is great beyond the arc, the team would have benefitted from anyone who was a good scorer. Adams also has a wingspan of 6’10’’, which is very impressive for a 6’5’’ shooting guard and could help him develop into a solid defender.
Adams certainly wasn’t a flashy pick. There were some players on the board who were bigger names in college and got more coverage during the scouting process. However, Adams looks like he can come off the bench and make some baskets for the Grizzlies, and in the grand scheme of things, this is what the Grizzlies needed from their first round pick. It is disappointing that he is only an average three-point shooter and he lacks athleticism, but if his midrange shot and ability to finish near the basket carry over to the NBA, his presence will be more than welcome on the Grizzlies’ bench.
Jarnell Stokes, Power Forward, Tennessee
In terms of value, the Grizzlies got an excellent deal when they traded for Stokes, picked by the Utah Jazz 35th overall, by giving up a future second round pick. Stokes has a lot of strength and a 7’1’’ wingspan, which will both make up for the fact that he is only 6’8’’, a little small for a power forward. Stokes’ strength also helps him under the basket. While not excellent at posting up, Stokes has the capability to become an effective post scorer with a little bit of work.
However, Stokes’ main draw is that he is one of the best rebounders in this year’s draft. Great at grabbing rebounds on defense and outstanding at grabbing them on offense, Stokes will be someone that can’t be allowed near the basket at all times. He is especially dangerous at scoring quickly after grabbing offensive rebounds, meaning that despite being an average shooter, he is able to contribute on offense in other ways. This is also something that the Grizzlies needed in a player. Overall, the Grizzlies were okay at rebounding last year, but they were better at preventing their opponents from grabbing boards more than actually grabbing rebounds themselves. Having Stokes on the team should help them grab more rebounds as a team rather than just preventing their opponents from doing so.
Stokes is going to have to work hard to transition into the NBA. He will need to strengthen his skills as a post shooter, and he will have to stay fit in order to make his smaller height a non-issue. Despite that, the potential for Stokes to be a great bench player or even a potential starter in the future is there. Some of the best players to come out of drafts in the past few years were those who were skilled specifically at rebounding, such as Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis. While the Grizzlies shouldn’t expect wonders from Stokes, he should be able to contribute to the team and help the Grizzlies improve in both scoring and rebounding.