The Memphis Grizzlies signed four young players to participate in training camp at the end of September. One stands out from the rest in their shot to make the team.
The Memphis Grizzlies announced four roster moves on August 8, preparing them for training camp in a little under two months.
Memphis signed Wayne Selden, DJ Stephens, and Tony Wroten to compete for a roster spot during training camp and the preseason. Memphis does have 15 guaranteed contracts right now, so it could be a long shot for any of these guys to crack the opening day roster.
Wayne Selden - Kansas University
Selden wasn't able to play for any team in the 2016 summer league due to surgery to repair a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Selden played three years as a Kansas Jayhawk, posting career averages of 11 points and three rebounds a game.
Selden was someone that many thought would be a second round pick. He has decent size at 6’6, and improved every year at Kansas, ending his junior year shooting 39% from three. Selden can get to the rim, and knock it down from three. In a game against Kentucky, Selden scored 33 points, including three from downtown. He got to the free-throw line eight times, and eight of his nine two-point field goals were right at the rim.
The knock against Wayne Selden is consistency. He went 12-20 against Kentucky. But over the next four games, he made just 10 shots combined. Selden did end his college career playing some of his best basketball, averaging 17 points a game over the last six games.
DJ Stephens - Iowa Energy
Stephens is the only one among these four to play for the Grizzlies in the summer league. In three games, Stephens averaged 10.3 points on 59% shooting. In addition to solid numbers, Stephens showed everyone why he's deserving of at least a shot in the NBA in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks by scoring 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting and collecting seven rebounds. But among those nine field goals, six of them were dunks. In previous years it seemed that it would take Memphis 10 games to get six dunks.
Stephens brings athleticism to a team that has long been desperate for it. If he can knock down the three-point shot at a good enough clip, Stephens makes sense as an end of the bench guy for Memphis. I expect to see him back in the D-League for the Iowa Energy again this upcoming season, but could be a call-up guy during the season.
Troy Williams - Indiana University
Memphis brings in Troy Williams from the Phoenix Suns summer league team. Williams averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds during his three-year career as an Indiana Hoosier. He started three of the six games he played in the summer league, averaging 12 points and four rebounds. Williams and Stephens are similar players: guys that will get you points through offensive rebounding and straight athleticism. Stephens is the better shooter at this point, as Williams was 5-19 from downtown throughout the summer league.
Memphis has long looked for an athletic small forward since they traded away Rudy Gay. Tayshaun Prince wasn’t the answer, Jeff Green was sent on his way, and now Chandler Parsons will get his chance.
Williams wouldn’t be the starter, but to have some depth at that position would be a luxury that Memphis hasn’t been able to experience recently. Williams has an NBA size body at 6’7 and 218 pounds. With James Ennis signing a two-year, six million dollar deal this offseason, though, the chances might be slim for Williams to make the roster. Like Stephens, he can be a guy that ends up playing for the Iowa Energy and would know the system if needed later in the year.
Tony Wroten - NBA Free Agent
Wroten has the best shot at making the opening day roster for the Grizzlies.
Not only does he have experience in the NBA, something the other three guys don't have, he has chemistry with some of the roster guys already. Wroten was drafted by Memphis in 2012 and played one season for them. After that, he was shipped off to Philadelphia where he averaged 13 points a game in 2013-14, and 17 points a game in 2014-15.
Wroten is not a good shooter, but has shown the ability to get to the rim. Wroten is a north and south type driver. He uses his elite speed and quickness to blow by defenders and finish at the rim. There really isn't anyone like him on the Grizzlies roster currently and while his position isn't clearly defined at this point of his career, his 6’5 frame allows him to play either guard position. And that's something Memphis needs, versatility in the backcourt and wing positions.
Unfortunately, injuries have derailed Wroten’s career growth over the past few seasons. He played just 30 games in 2014-15, and only eight this past season. Wroten tore his ACL in January of 2015 (the same injury he suffered in high school) and when he came back in 2016 he was waived to make room for Ish Smith. Wroten hasn’t seen the court in NBA action since.
With 15 guaranteed contracts already on the roster, the work will be cut out for any of these guys to make the opening day roster. But with the contracts of Vince Carter and JaMychal Green being partially guaranteed until January 1, there is an outside chance. They just have to go and take it.