After Grizz Head Coach Dave Joerger decided to pass on the frozen pastures of Minnesota and return to the Grizz, he stated during a mini press conference that he valued certain characteristics in a player which included basketball IQ, playmaking, & scoring. Joerger also talked about how he wanted to start developing the next wave of players that will be a part of the next core behind the current core of Randolph, Gasol, Conley and Allen. He also most distinctly said that the Grizz had an abundance of wings on our roster and now that we need to “marry one.” Going into the draft many fans in Grizz Nation assumed that this was something that the Grizz would also look to address via the draft by selecting one of the many talented small forwards that may be available. In this edition of Noise From the Sain Asylum I will take a look at who the Grizz decided to jump the broom with and tell why he is worth the commitment.
I was unapologetic early before the draft about my desire for the Grizz to draft Kyle Anderson at 22. It was more than a desire. I was totally consumed and enamored by the idea of a kid who basically was a 6’9″ point guard for UCLA transitioning to play small forward for the Memphis Grizzlies. I even took the time to photoshop Anderson in a Grizz uniform and saved it as my twitter avatar. I looked at every mock draft and figured out every scenario that would have the once projected lottery pick to be available at 22.
And then came draft night. I was sitting in the media room at FedEx forum and I kept making eye contact with Peter Edminston of Sports 56 who I knew was also Slo-Motivated about drafting Anderson. I looked at him as to say “This is it. We are about to get our guy” The Grizz were about to make their selection and the twitter bombs started to erupt. It was leaked that the Grizz would be drafting Jordan Adams before we made our selection and a ton of emotions hit me at one time. I was confused, I was trying to find reasons to be excited, I was relieved that it wasn’t some of the other names that I heard requested from fans and media like Shabazz Napier, Rodney Hood and Cleanthony Early. I was well familiar with Adams. Being a die hard Memphis Tiger fan and recruiting buff I remember Adams being part of the Atlanta crew that Coach Pastner was recruiting that included Tony Parker of UCLA; the perceived jewel of the crew, Tigers Shaq Goodwin and Damien Wilson, and Jordan Adams who most recruiting analyst labeled as maybe the worst of the 4 and no more than a shooter. Unlike many I knew that he was high on the Grizz draft board, and knew that they were impressed by his analytics, toting a PER of 28.3 in just his sophomore season at UCLA and his insanely quick hands on defense. I had seen a few mock drafts that had him being selected by the Grizz so I wasn’t as shocked as some others were who responded like this was just another horrible pick by the Grizz on draft night. My immediate response wasn’t as much “WHO?!” as it was “why?”
Until I took a closer look into things. Adams, who was the leading scorer at UCLA at 17.4 ppg also lead the Pac-10 in steals and set the single season record for steals in UCLA history. He was also 6th in the nation in steals per game. He has an elite ability to draw fouls as he displayed in the NBA Summer League and his long arms & 6’10” wingspan allow him to reek havoc in passing lanes as well as find creative ways to get to the basket and score. After simply watching him play you can tell that he just “gets it” and he is extremely intelligent on the court past his years. He seldom forced anything on offense and scored as efficiently as his advanced stats suggested. His conditioning had also drastically improved from what it had been during his college career. Perhaps the most eye-opening stat is the one that was birthed from the advanced analytics system of Layne Vashro which says that Adams grades out statistically as the 5th best shooting guard in the past 30 years coming out of college. Another interesting analysis came from Jacob Frankel, who says that Adams tested out as the number one prospect in this years draft class statistically. Do these projections guarantee that he will be viewed among the best all time? Of course not. But it does show that his college production ranks among the best.
Let’s take a look at a player that Jordan Adams is often compared to: James Harden. The eye test says that both Harden and Adams both are scorers that can knock down outside shots and get to the free throw line but after looking at both players numbers per 36 minutes the comparisons are actually even closer than the typical comparison suggests.
James Harden Vs Jordan Adams
per 36 mins
22.5 ppg 22.5 ppg
56.4% 2P 51.5% 2p
35.6% 3P 37.7%3p
75.6% FT 83.1%FT
8.6 FTA 7.2 FTA
6.2 REB 7.3 REB
4.7 AST 3.o AST
1.9 STL 3.8 STL
0.4 BLK 0.1 BLK
3.8 TO 2.0 TO
3.2 FOULS 2.9 FOULS
Being that the Grizz are not known for having a history of great shooting guards, a player like Adams can be a very welcome sight. Will he pan out to be what the numbers suggest? Who knows. Even though personally I fully believe that he will be a great player on this team as early as this current season, no one really knows how he will develop. Getting playing time will be a struggle but I am definitely of the belief that Adams will be worth the commitment. Even though many might have preferred that we drafted a small forward, namely Rodney Hood who was available at 22, I personally believe Adams was a better choice if only because I don’t see Hood ever being a starter in the NBA. Adams in my opinion has starter potential. Drafting because of a need is fine in some situations but I didn’t see a player on the board including Anderson that I thought could be a starter at small forward. I like this line of thinking by the Grizz and feel like that they made the right choice. Get your nice clothes and dancing shoes ready Grizz Nation, there is a wedding ceremony coming soon to the GrindHouse and 18,000 + are invited.
Follow Anthony Sain on Twitter @SainAsylum