The Grizzlies sent rookie shooting guard Jamaal Franklin back to Fort Wayne to join the Mad Ants on February 26th, and he’s been making the most of his time out there so far.
Because Jason Levien came out and called him “the Grindson” on the Chris Vernon Show shortly after the draft, common perception has been that Franklin is a defensive specialist in the making. While it’s on the one hand complimentary to his motor on the defensive end, this as a whole assessment would be far off base. In his tenure at San Diego State, the sleeved assassin was a do-it-all wing man and the only player in Division 1 basketball to lead his team in points, rebounding, assists, and steals, during his junior season.
Highlighted by the shooting stats displayed in the above graphic, we see that Mr. Franklin is taking this opportunity to light up the scoreboard as the premier scoring option for the Mad Ants. That 67.0 true shooting percentage illustrates the efficiency of his scoring efforts, as he’s connecting on looks from beyond the arc at a rate of 39.1%, while getting to the line at a clip of 7.8 times a game. Judging by his shot chart over the last four games, we see that while he’s had a bit of success from the perimeter, he has clearly been more comfortable with his jumper from the left hand side, but the sample size is far too minuscule to draw any meaningful conclusions from. Also looking at the shot chart tells us basically the same thing as the inflated volume of free throw attempts; he’s getting to the rack. With 49% of his shots coming in the circle around the cylinder, 70% of which he’s converting into buckets, we see that Franklin is taking advantage of the substandard level of post protection in the D-League. Sure it’s nothing absurdly salient, but his willingness to drive rather than fall in love with jacking perimeter shots is encouraging nonetheless.
Now let’s touch on Franklin’s other abilities. We mentioned earlier that he excelled as a jack-of-all-trades at San Diego State, and that ability seems to have at least followed him into the D-League. In addition to the outrageous scoring figures, he’s been dishing out assists at a rate of 7.0 per contest during this trip, while also bringing some rebounding (5.0 per game) and active hands (2.5 steals per game) to the table. Will Franklin be able to keep this up? Who knows? Again, I disclaim, “sample size,” in case I haven’t done so enough just yet, but regardless it’s nice to see him getting some minutes to flash his ability and keep his legs warm.
With the Grizzlies getting situated north of the border tonight, if the national TNT game of Houston vs. Chicago doesn’t move you, you can always check out the Grindson in action against Ricky Davis (yes, the Ricky Davis) and the Erie Bayhawks tonight at 6pm central time, broadcast live on YouTube.
Finally, I leave you with the following highlight, where Franklin takes a page out of teammate James Johnson’s playbook (or his own for that matter).