The Memphis Grizzlies stand to add a difference-maker in the starting lineup with the No. 22 pick of the draft. This isn't an insurmountable task for the potential selection due to the hole in the middle of the Grizzlies' lineup.
Tayshaun Prince, who gave a slim offering offensively with six points per game and a 13.3 percent usage rate, became an invisible part of the starting five in 2013-14.
The Grizzlies have recognized the need to force opponents to guard their starter at the 3 spot. As The Commercial Appeal's Ronald Tillery reported (subscription required), "Griz brass has indicated a desire to move on from Prince because of his $7.7 million salary and all-around lack of productivity given today's requirements at small forward."
Memphis' approach to the hole could be as flexible as today's game has made this—or any—position.
This board looks specifically at players who could realistically be available when the Grizzlies are on the clock.
1. P.J. Hairston
P.J. Hairston might be shorter than the small forward position demands, but his scoring and length override traditional notions of that spot. His 6'5" stature is offset by his appreciable 6'9" wingspan.
Anyhow, his knack for dropping points is too good for the Grizzlies to turn down. For the Texas Legends, he lit up the NBA D-League with 21.8 points per game and 118 points produced per 100 possessions.
Dave Joerger marveled about Hairston's scoring ability, telling The Commercial Appeal (subscription required), "(Hairston) can get his own shot. He's got a big body, so if he gets his shoulder into your chest, he can release from your body and get off a shot."
His three-point shooting is reasonable, with a 35.8 percent mark and a bit more than half his shots from downtown.
Memphis should be able to get past the issues that led to his dismissal from the University of North Carolina. One general manager told Marc Berman the New York Post, "His character doesn't help him, but I don't think it hurts him. It may be more immaturity than bad character."
2. K.J. McDaniels
The former Clemson Tiger is primed to become a defensive playmaker. He blocked an impressive 2.8 shots per game and grabbed 1.1 steals per game.
He has tremendous physical tools with a 6'11.25" wingspan and great quickness and athleticism. His DraftExpress profile declares that he has "arguably the best athleticism in the draft of any wing player not named Andrew Wiggins."
He's aggressive on the boards, having grabbed 7.1 rebounds per game.
K.J. McDaniels will require development as a perimeter shooter. Still, he'd produce significantly more offensively than Prince would. McDaniels is accurate at the free-throw line and took 5.1 attempts per game.
DraftExpress rated him as the top small forward in transition and No. 3 around the rim. This is due to his quickness and dunking prowess.
3. Cleanthony Early
One thing the Grizzlies have missed in the last few drafts is a ready-to-go player. Like Hairston, Cleanthony Early has veritable offensive skills.
CBSSports.com's Matt Moore described Early as "plug and play at age 23."
The former Wichita State Shocker is chiseled, long and hits the inside hard.
SI.com's Chris Johnson said, "Early is an excellent athlete with explosiveness to blow past defenders, and was one of the top scorers in college basketball last season. He is strong attacking the basket and can finish in traffic."
Even if he didn't always get results in college defensively, Early's 6'10.75" wingspan, athleticism and ability to get into a stance will help him adapt at the next level.
Early, who is ranked No. 29 in DraftExpress' prospect rankings, might seem like a reach for the Grizzlies. But his three-point shooting would be irresistible for a Grizz squad that placed 19th and shot the fewest threes in 2013-14. He took 37.6 percent on 4.9 long-range attempts per game. While streaky, Early is effective enough to merit faith.
Others meriting consideration
Glancing down the board, additional wing men demand looks. Jordan Adams can create space on offense and find scoring opportunities. He makes great use of his 6'10" wingspan to gamble on defense and get steals.
Kyle Anderson would be a strong, involved facilitator, although his lack of defensive commitment doesn't fit the Grizzlies' style.
These players don't have the potential to make the impact of any of the top three. Particularly, the Grizzlies can address a scoring deficiency by taking Hairston.
Unless otherwise noted, advanced metrics come from Basketball-Reference.com.
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