Key Storylines from Memphis Grizzlies' Summer League Team

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIJuly 15, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 07:  Tony Wroten #1 of the Memphis Grizzlies takes a shot against Hasheem Thabeet #34 and Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 7, 2013 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Tony Wroten and 11 other Memphis Grizzlies Summer League team members are trying to propel themselves a bit during this period of ball. While toiling against others who are making their way through the NBA novitiate, the Grizz Summer Leaguers haven't had much success.

That the Grizzlies lost their first two games and shot poorly in both is immaterial. Individual achievement is most important since team wins don't count for anything once the real season comes around.

Thus, the issue is what each player will do to further his career. Wroten and Jon Leuer are the most important to watch since they have contracts. Next come draft picks Jamaal Franklin and Janis Timma, and then Donte Greene and Willie Reed, who both have non-guaranteed contracts.

Injuries are stalling progress for Franklin and Leuer. As TV analyst Pete Pranica tweeted, both have ankle injuries.

If they heal in time, they could put together promising tape for head coach Dave Joerger to view.

Here's a look at contract players, draftees and others without full contracts.



Will Wroten and Leuer show any improvement?

Wroten didn't significantly improve his game in his first professional campaign. His difficulty hitting jumpers and handling the ball didn't fade. The Washington product turned it over 3.8 times per 36 minutes and shot 25 percent away from the rim. Only 41 percent of his shots were attempted outside of three feet.

The sophomore-to-be has a one-dimensional game that revolves around driving to the basket and finishing with his left hand. To see him expand his repertoire by mixing it up on the drive and hitting outside shots would be pleasing.

Wroten's results were very different in the first two games. He went 4-of-9 from the field en route to 17 points against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. Against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, he hit just one of 14 field-goal attempts and five of 11 free-throw tries for seven points.

The 20-year-old didn't control the ball well in either game, coughing it up four times against Chicago and three times against Cleveland.

Still, Kurt Helin of said Wroten "has matured a lot in his first Summer League."

Leuer is a nice inside guy. He's a decent shooter, having hit 50.2 percent in his two-year career. He's a strong offensive rebounder, averaging 2.8 rebounds per game for his career. Summer-league success for the former Cavalier amounts to hitting a few shots and positioning himself well enough to assert his strength on the glass.



Can the draftees assure their merit?

Missing another game or two should not affect Franklin's chances to land a roster spot. Many expected him to be drafted in the first round. He does many things that the Grizzlies will like, such as hitting free throws, shooting aggressively and defending well.

With a couple Summer League games, he could show his ability to drain jumpers from various spots on the floor and make plays on defense by grabbing steals.

Janis Timma has more to prove. Timma, who was the last pick in the draft, is a raw talent. As his profile points out, he has a nice shot and is athletic, but displays clunky mechanics.

The Latvian totaled seven points and seven rebounds in the first two games. 

If he doesn't shine in the Summer League and the Grizzlies still like him, they can put him overseas and see if he grows.


Who else might earn a roster spot?

Reed and Greene don't seem to have an advantage on the non-roster invitees. Greene, who played four seasons for the Sacramento Kings, scored 5.4 points in 14.7 minutes per game during 2011-12 and didn't play in the NBA last season. He played one game for the Atleticos de San German in Puerto Rico this past spring.

Reed has been a mouse in professional basketball. The 6'10" forward went undrafted for 2011 and missed the cut in Kings training camp during 2012. Then, he averaged 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for the Springfield Armor in the D-League.

Perhaps the most notable invitee is former Butler forward Matt Howard. He helped the Bulldogs reach the NCAA Championship in 2010 and 2011. Howard played for three international teams in the last two years. He averaged 8.9 points in 24.8 minutes per game for the French team Chorale Roanne Basket last season.

Howard, who is known to most college basketball fans for missing a running layup at the end of a title-game loss to Duke in 2010, impressed with 11 points and 11 rebounds against the Bulls. He failed to repeat that rosy showing, posting two points and five rebounds against the Cavs.

The acolyte of Brad Stevens can catch the Grizzlies' attention by showing he can compete inside against bigger froncourt players, hitting shots in traffic and grabbing plenty of rebounds. The 24-year-old is at least doing his job on the boards.

Another player who might catch some attention is Vander Blue, an undrafted guard from Marquette. He averaged 14.8 points per game as a junior. According to, Blue is an unpolished player who shoots well off the dribble and in pick-and-roll sets, but he is uninspiring from the outside and as a finisher in the paint.

Blue scored seven points on Saturday and nine on Sunday. He must shoot much better than 4-of-20 to make it to training camp.