Three prospects the Grizzlies must target in the 2023 NBA Draft

Ever since nabbing Jaren Jackson Jr. with the fourth pick in 2018, the Grizzlies have seemingly mastered the NBA Draft. Of their top 10 scorers this year, nine of them were drafted by the Grizzlies or signed with them as an undrafted free agent. They’ve nabbed stars in Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jackson Jr. They’ve built a rotation out of unheralded picks—the Grizzlies scooped up key bench pieces like Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman, Santi Aldama, Dillon Brooks and David Roddy in the 20s and 30s of their respective drafts. This is almost entirely a homespun operation, one where rookies are selected with ready-made roles with their skillset in mind. As such, here are the three players who the Grizzlies should target with the 25th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft (and who will surely be major players by the 2025 NBA Playoffs).

1. Marcus Sasser, PG, Houston

One of the greatest players in Houston’s history, Sasser is nearly the perfect back-up point guard in the NBA. He has a steady hand (a microscopic 10.1 percent turnover rate), yet is an explosive scorer (17.0 points per game over his last two seasons). His defense is hectoring and handsy (3.2 percent steal rate) but he somehow stays out of foul trouble (just 2 fouls per game). Last season, Sasser wasn’t merely just the best point guard at the University of Houston, he was the best floor general in the entire city—if any player on the Rockets could run an offense or guard the point of attack as well as Sasser, they certainly did an excellent job hiding it. He’s equal parts tenacious and poised, measured and aggressive.

So why is Sasser projected to be a mid-20s draft pick and not a lottery one? He’s old (22.75 years old on draft night) and small (6’2) and the NBA Draft places a huge amount of value on being young and large for good reason. In the NBA Draft, oldness is often correlated to badness, proof that a player was unremarkable against his age cohort and has only succeeded once his more talented contemporaries graduated to the NBA. In Sasser’s case, though, he would’ve been a shoo-in to be drafted last year and dominated the pre-draft process, but his stock was artificially lowered by a torn ACL that he suffered earlier in the season. With Grizzlies’ back-up point guard Tyus Jones heading into free agency, Marcus Sasser could seamlessly fill that role and allow Memphis to use those savings to improve the rest of their roster.

2. Jaime Jaquez, Forward, UCLA

Really, you’re probably thinking to yourself, does Memphis really need another gritty tweener forward with an iffy jumper? Yes, yes they do. There wasn’t a player in college basketball better than Jaquez last year, in large part because there wasn’t a player in college basketball with a bigger dawg in them. At UCLA, Jaquez made hay as an unstoppable isolation scorer, hunting mismatches like a LeBron James cover band. Against Pac 12 competition, his bag runneth over. His footwork in the post was punishing and precise; his first step was deceptively fast; his jumper was immune to close outs.

And yet none of that stuff will work in the NBA; whereas most college teams are bereft of quality wings, there’s no shortage of similarly sized 6’7 guys in the NBA to matchup with Jaquez. Still, the ultimate testament to Jaquez’s game is that he’s a surefire NBA player even if his greatest strength doesn’t translate. Despite not being a superlative athlete, he might be the best help defender of any non-big in the Draft. Like a smaller Marc Gasol, he instantly diagnoses offensive actions and knows exactly how to position himself to snuff them out. While he may not rise up to meet offensive players at the rim, he’s so strong that he steers them away from getting to the rim in the first place. Unless Jaquez undergoes some freakish late-stage development like Jimmy Butler did in Chicago, he won’t be a star, but his doggedness, toughness and smarts will make him a valuable NBA player for the next decade.

3. Colby Jones, Guard, Xavier

If the Grizzlies have a “type” in the NBA Draft it would be guys with some junk in the trunk. Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane, David Roddy, Jake Laravia, Xavier Tillman: all slightly undersized guys who functionally play much taller because of their strength and weird square bodies. Colby Jones, a 6’6, 210 guard from Xavier, fits that mold. No stranger to the weight room, Jones plays a patient, deliberate style predicated on the fact that no other guard can move him off his path.

As the co-pilot of an elite Xavier offense, Jones showed comfort across a variety of different usages. Playing off Souley Boum, he showed his chops as a spot-up shooter (37.8 percent from 3), pick and roll operator (4.4 assists per game) and bruising interior scorer (56.3 percent on two-pointers). He has a refined post game and feathery touch in the mid-range, the burl to draw help but the court sense to spray the ball to open shooters. Even if he’ll be shifted off-ball in the NBA, that’s fine; there will always be room in the league for wings who can pass, dribble and shoot.

The post Three prospects the Grizzlies must target in the 2023 NBA Draft appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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