Memphis Grizzlies 2014 Draft: The Story Writes Itself

Posted on July 1, 2014

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451324776-stokes-adams-777By Casey Black

Welcome to Memphis, Jordan Adams. Welcome home, Jarnell Stokes.

For Grizzlies fans, NBA Draft night had the highs and lows of any archetypal sports film. You’ve got the misunderstood diamond-in-the-rough and the beloved hometown hero playing on the same team. Let’s watch the storyline unfold.

With the 22nd pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies unexpectedly selected Jordan Adams, the shooting guard out of UCLA.

The 2014 NBA Draft class offered a wealth of talent that is unrivaled in recent memory. Well within the second round, first-class prospects remained on the table. Anxiously sitting through 21 picks before their turn, Grizzlies fans looked to squash the ugly saga of recent disastrous drafting. Celebrated names like Rodney Hood, Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Napier were available, and yet, the Grizzlies Front Office used their only scheduled pick of the night to grab someone a little less illustrious- Jordan Adams. Since the pick, they’ve gotten quite a bit off flack for passing over the more electrifying and athletic prospects. Yet, in an interview with 92.9 FM ESPN’s Chris Vernon on Friday, Grizzlies owner Robert Pera was clear that the entire war room came to a firm consensus on Adams.

In fact, despite tying for the worst vertical at the NBA combine, Jordan Adams was right at the top of their list.

Looking at the numbers, Adams begins to make sense. The 6-5, 220 pound shooting guard (who recently cut his weight to 209) averaged 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in the Bruins 2013-2014 season. He also led UCLA in steals, has an efficiency and touch Memphis needs and, according to Pera, has ambition that is uncommon in most young draftees.

Pera explained the science, or analytics rather, behind their 22nd pick that silenced the Barclays Center. He asserted that the front office was looking to draft the best available player, not make decisions based on specific needs.

Then, in Hollywood fashion, with the 35th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies selected Jarnell Stokes of the University of Tennessee (by way of the Utah Jazz).

Pera said Stokes was just beneath Adams on their short list, and moments after the 22nd pick, they began a “mad scramble” to strike a deal for the 6-8 power forward. Exchanging a future second round draft pick with the Utah Jazz, the Grizzlies acquired Stokes, an undersized but sturdy rebounding machine who needs to put in some work on his shot. For the record, getting Stokes in exchange for a pick down the road was a massive steal for Memphis.

Stokes impressively had the second most offensive rebounds and fourth most defensive rebounds in all of college basketball last season.

Being a Memphis-bred player, Stokes claims to know all about “Grit N Grind,” repeating with disbelief that, just months ago, he squinted in the nosebleeds of the FedEx Forum watching his hometown team.

Less than 24 hours after Adams and Stokes were summoned to the Bluff City, news spread that Zach Randolph accepted a two-year, $20 million extension to his contract, writing in a lovely ending to this offseason tale. This means two things: not only will Memphis have its beloved #50 for three more seasons, keeping the Grizzlies in contention for the NBA title, but rookie Jarnell Stokes will have the prime mentor grooming him for starting spot. If all goes as planned, Grizzlies fans will benefit from Z-Bo’s talents even after he’s left the court for good.

It may be the offseason, but the Draft on Thursday night sent a message to NBA fans. The Grizzlies are not resting- they’re retooling.

Watch the official press conference with Adams and Stokes here.

Casey Black is a Memphis native who now is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Read her coverage of the Grizzlies at www.bearsofbeale.wordpress.com.

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Posted in: Grizzlies, Sports