Yesterday I visited the Grizzlies 4th pre-draft workout. Although five players were supposed to participate, Darius Miller was injured early and did not partake in the majority of the workout. The 4 players who did work out were:
William Buford, Senior, Ohio State, Shooting Guard
Dominique Ferguson, Sophomore, Florida International, Forward
Evan Fournier, France, Shooting Guard/ Small Forward
Augustus Gilchrist, Senior, South Florida, Power Forward/Center
Buford, Fournier, and Miller are all potential first round picks who have tremendous upsides while Gilchrist and Ferguson are relatively unknown players trying to make a name for themselves. With crunch time closing in for the Grizzlies, they will need to examine the pros and cons of these five players closely:
Pros – Buford is a strong three-point shooter who is also capable of slashing to the basket. He presented skill and talent in one-on-one drills and finished well around the rim. He shot his free throws well and had an impeccable mid-range jumper, missing only one in a set of ten during a drill.
Cons – Buford is not yet capable of handling NBA level defense, and struggled to defend Fourier, who often beat him to the rim. Although he has a good crossover, his ball handling skills need to improve.
Conclusion – A fairly good ball handler, Buford could take some of the strain off PG Mike Conley if the Grizzlies draft him. With OJ Mayo almost assuredly on his way out, Buford could be a capable replacement.
Pros – Ferguson is a good inside-out player who thrives in a fast-paced offense. He finishes well inside and has quick lateral movements that free him up for the ball.
Cons – Ferguson lacked strength inside, a definite negative for a forward. He did not play the pick and roll well and failed to shoot well from the free throw line. Despite his lateral movement, Ferguson seemed to lack overall agility, and often seemed to be lagging behind a step or two. Although his form on three pointers was good, his shots clanked off the front of the rim.
Conclusion – Although Ferguson showed that he has the potential to start in the NBA, he lacks the strength and overall athleticism that older, more mature players possess.
Pros: Fournier plays best when he is making his way to the basket. He played well in one-on-one drills against all three players and has a solid midrange jumper. At six foot seven, his height would allow for him to play small forward or shooting guard. Although Fournier is used to shooting the Euro-range three pointer, he seemed adept at hitting the long-range shot. When other players were taking water breaks, Fournier stayed on court to further work on his shots and skills.
Cons: Fournier is not at all adjusted to NBA-style defense, and lacked the skills to defend his fellow draft prospects. Despite his good shooting from around the court, he did not shoot free throws well.
Conclusion: With the ability to be a combo guard and also play small forward, Fournier would be a good fit for the Grizzlies. His shot is definitely ready, but he is definitely not prepared to defend Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, or LeBron James, all of whom he could end up getting assigned to. Overall, Fournier presented the best combination of need and talent of the players who participated.
Pros – Gilchrist played well in the one-on-one drills and was able to face up around the basket with ease. He preformed well in pick and roll situation and is quick for his size. He had a strong mid-range jumper, and despite being a forward/center combo, was surprisingly accurate from outside. He shot his free throws well for a big man.
Cons- Gilchrist was not good at perimeter defense, but improved once the ball was in the paint. Although a good player, he lacked the skill and athleticism of both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Conclusion – Overall Gilchrist is a good player, but not a good fit for the Grizzlies. With Gasol and Randolph patrolling the paint and Speights and Haddadi serving as fairly cheap backups, the Grizz simply don’t need him.