With the draft quickly approaching, we here at 3 Shades of Blue figured it was time to start taking a closer look at the players that the Grizzlies might be interested in at their current draft position in the #25 spot. Now, through multiple conversations over the past few years with Grizzlies’ VP Chris Wallace, we have a pretty good idea of what he’s looking for when it comes to evaluating talent — especially late in the first round. The key word there is “Talent”, because drafting for need is almost never a good idea in the NBA. This is definitely the case when dealing with a first-round pick that will receive a guaranteed contract.
The reigning Conference USA Player of the Year, Barton is certainly a talented prospect. After averaging 18 & 8 for the Tigers this year and improving his 3-point shooting by 8 percentage points from his freshman year, Barton definitely took a step up in the eyes of many. His offensive game is predicated on his willingness to put his head down and get into the lane. While he has worked hard to improve his jump shot, it still isn’t a strength for him, although indications are that he continues to work on that area. He has exhibited a lot of versatility, having played all three backcourt/wing positions in college. His future in the NBA is likely at SG, but teams will probably like his ability to match up with a variety of positions, depending on what is needed.
One of Barton’s biggest strengths also happens to be one of those things that almost always translates to the next level: rebounding. He averaged eight boards per game this past season, putting him in the Top 100 for that category, which is pretty remarkable for a wing player. That’s another thing that will likely boost his potential value. His ballhandling still needs some work, but his decision-making has improved noticeably.
Defensively, Barton is solid, utilizing his athleticism and length to his advantage. The biggest area of concern for him is his slight frame. He’ll never be able to put on much weight, likely having topped out at 175 lbs., but he’ll have to get stronger to survive the banging he’ll receive on both ends of the floor. This is especially true when you look at how much of his offensive game is reliant upon his ability to get into the lane.
For the Grizzlies, Barton will probably be an intriguing prospect, although he doesn’t fill one of their pressing needs right now. His athleticism, versatility, rebounding, and defensive and scoring ability make him an attractive prospect for a lot of teams, including Memphis, who could draft him and then flip one of their swingmen for a shooter or veteran PG. I’d say there is about a 15% chance of Barton being the pick on Thursday night.