What Does Chris Wallace's Return to Helm Mean for the Memphis Grizzlies' Draft?

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIMay 29, 2014

CLEMSON, SC - JANUARY 11: K.J. McDaniels #32 of the Clemson Tigers makes a shot over Amile Jefferson #21 of the Duke Blue Devils during the game against at Littlejohn Coliseum on January 11, 2014 in Clemson, South Carolina. The Clemson Tigers defeated the Duke Blue Devils by a score of 72-59. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
Tyler Smith/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies' Chris Wallace has at least one more chance to redeem his draft ability after returning to his former office as vice president of basketball operations last week. Wallace, whose draft record is unspectacular, may want to think long and hard about his approach in order for the Grizzlies to benefit from his work after his contract ends June 30.


A look at Wallace's drafts

Few draftees during Wallace's tenure have made an impact on the organization. Mike Conley, who the Grizzlies netted days after Wallace replaced Jerry West, is the only one who started most of his games while wearing the three shades of blue.

Generally, Wallace's grab of the previous seven drafts (including a reduced role—mainly scouting—in the 2013 draft) are a mix of busts and projects who didn't pan out before being shipped out of the organization.

Including rookies acquired in draft trades, Wallace's draft acquisitions total 70.4 win shares. Conley, O.J. Mayo and Darrell Arthur are the only ones to have amassed more than five win shares for the Grizzlies. Also, the other seven didn't stay in Memphis through the end of their rookie contracts.

Chartgo.com Chart

Moreover, Wallace mostly took raw, athletic perimeter players.

Tony Wroten was noted as a project. His DraftExpress.com scouting report stated, "Wroten brings some excellent skills to the table with his physical tools, aggressive dribble-drive game, passing and defensive ability, but he has some notable weaknesses to overcome."

DraftExpress.com described Josh Selby as one who "has shown flashes of that potential," but "has struggled heavily with inconsistency and turnovers."

Granted, Wallace and John Hollinger dealt most of them due to necessity. Wallace packaged Xavier Henry because he needed a big man after Zach Randolph's partial MCL tear. Hollinger traded Josh Selby as part of a deal to avoid the luxury tax.


Signals for this year's draft

Since the Grizzlies' first pick under Wallace predominantly have fallen either in the late first round or the second round, projects are difficult to avoid. Those who show significant strides within a year usually have lower ceilings.

Based on his history, one can expect Wallace to chase a backcourt player with high upside, but one who may not yield immediate results.

Indeed, picking up a backcourt man is once again necessary. Memphis needs a replacement for Tayshaun Prince, who has outlived his utility. Additionally, another scorer off the bench would be nice. The Grizzlies may re-sign one or all of the trio of Mike Miller, Beno Udrih and James Johnson. 

But none of those three are long-term solutions because Miller and Udrih are past their peaks and Johnson lacks three-point shooting ability.

Also, most prospects likely to be available when the Grizzlies are slated to pick at No. 22 dwell in the backcourt. K.J. McDaniels is a long small forward with a 6'11.25" wingspan and scored 23.4 points per 40 minutes in 2012-13 for Clemson.

Rodney Hood stands 6'8", scored 19.6 per 40 minutes and shot 42 percent from downtown.

P.J. Hairston has great length for a 2-guard at 6'9" and scored 21.3 per game for the Texas Legends after being dismissed by North Carolina in December.

Each one has room to grow offensively. McDaniels and Hairston could improve their shot selection. Hood isn't strong around the basket.

Hairston and McDaniels may be more appealing to Wallace because they have greater defensive ability than Hood.



Wallace, is in the running to remain the head of basketball operations, per Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, won't earn a long-term stay with a keen pick.

Whether he is rehired or not, the seven-year Grizzlies front office veteran can balance out his legacy as one who swung high-risk, high-reward trades and sustained their competition level, yet fared poorly in the draft. 

A pick who contributes five years from now for the Grizz not only makes him a more memorable general manager, but also boosts the team's chances for deep playoff runs. If this pick happens to fit the mold of what Wallace typically seeks, that may not be bad.

After all, it may be imperative.

Unless otherwise noted, advanced metrics come from basketball-reference.com.