After entering the 2017 NBA Draft without a pick, the Memphis Grizzlies ended up with two promising late-round finds in Cal's Ivan Rabb and Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, who they grabbed with the 35th and 45th overall slots.
Since this year’s draft class was considered one of the deepest in recent memory, and after a record-setting 16 freshmen were taken in the first round, the second round was loaded with talented college upperclassmen ripe for the taking: Wesley Iwundu, Frank Mason III, Davon Reed, Semi Ojeleye, Jawun Evans, Sindarius Thornwell, Monte Morris, Edmond Sumner, Kadeem Allen, Nigel Williams-Goss, Jordan Bell, Alec Peters. I think Rabb and, especially, Brooks have as much potential to become legit NBA contributors on a playoff team as any of them do.
Memphis first chose Cal’s Ivan Rabb with the 35th pick, at least 10 slots earlier than most experts expected him to go and a full round later than some projections had him slotted at this time last year. 10 picks later the Grizzlies then traded a future second rounder for Brooks, who the Rockets originally selected.
Although he may not immediately be part of the Memphis rotation (the Memphis Grizzlies’ rotation at least. He’ll definitely be seeing time with the Grizzlies’ newly-formed NBA G-League affiliate the Memphis Hustle), he could be a key contributor at some point for David Fizdale’s squad.
The 21-year-old turned in quite a junior campaign for the Ducks as he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Second-Team All-American, and First-Team All-Conference. He also nailed clutch shot after clutch shot as Oregon had one of its most successful seasons in program history. The Ducks went 33-6, were Pac-12 regular season co-champions, and bowed out to eventual national champion North Carolina in a one-point loss in the Final Four after one of the most befuddling final minutes in March Madness history.
Brooks is simply a good shooter who knows how to get buckets in crucial moments, a skillset that will always be desirable in the NBA and is something the Grizzlies have seemingly needed more of during the entirety of the Grint and Grind era.
Rabb is a more curious selection, as the Grizzlies have several big men, both young and old. Although some fans and analysts were slightly disappointed with his sophomore campaign after a very promising freshman season, the 6-10 Rabb still averaged a double-double and earned a First-Team All-Confernce spot alongside Brooks.
If the Jarrell Martin's and Wang Zhelin's of the world never actually make a mark in Memphis, then maybe Rabb will move up the totem pole quicker than expected.