Grizzlies

Moore Would Make Memphis Whole

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After finishing the 2021-22 season with a top-two record and taking three-time champions to six games without Ja Morant, the Memphis Grizzlies are prepared for the most important offseason since they drafted their superstar in 2019.

After being two games short of reaching their first Conference Finals since 2013, the Grizzlies were able to assess what they do well and what they need to fix.

With players like Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson becoming free agents while contract extensions are up for other key pieces, the Grizz find themselves looking to upgrade talent on the roster while filling holes caused by free agency or other possible roster moves.

If Jones or Anderson are not back next year, as well as other players like De’Anthony Melton or Dillon Brooks being undoubtedly sought after by other teams via trade, one player in the draft that the Grizzlies should highly consider is Duke guard/forward Wendell Moore.

THE DUKE EFFECT

It’s no secret that Duke alumnus and Memphis Grizzlies General Manager Zach Kleiman has an admiration for Dukies. In his first two years as GM, Kleiman managed to bring in Tyus Jones as a free agent, traded for Grayson Allen that same offseason, and acquired Justise Winslow at the trade deadline that same season. All three were teammates on Duke’s 2015 National Championship team.

Secondly, Duke players have a track record of — at the very least — having strong work ethics and basketball IQ– something the Grizzlies have seemed to prioritize in the last three NBA drafts. And with their quick rise to success, it’s clearly a winning formula.

Insert Wendell Moore.

The 6-5, 215-pound swingman had an impressive Junior season on a team full of NBA talent. His teammates Mark Williams, AJ Griffin and the highly touted Paolo Banchero have all been projected to go in the first round of this year’s draft.

Moore finished the season averaging 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game on 50% shooting. He also averaged 1.4 steals per contest while being an absolute defensive menace.

Moore is hyper athletic, but his basketball IQ is what sets him apart from a lot of players in this year’s draft.

PLAYMAKING

He knows how bring the ball up and make the right basketball play. When he’s not initiating the offense, he is almost always making the extra pass to get the best shot possible.

SHOT CREATION

He also has shown the ability to self-create off the dribble. He loves the midrange game which would bode well for him in a Grizzlies uniform as they do not have a player that primarily works in that area of the floor.

HIGH DEFENSIVE MOTOR

Moore is a very pesky defender with a high motor, allowing him to jump into the passing lanes and either steal the ball or force the opposition into a turnover.

3-AND-D POTENTIAL

On top of his playmaking, athleticism and defensive ability, Moore showed tremendous promise shooting from deep as well. He averaged 41.3% on 3.2 attempts per game at Duke this season. With professional training, Moore is primed to be a good shooter at the NBA level as well.

HOW HE FITS WITH THE GRIZZLIES

Moore is a prototypical combo guard in the modern NBA. With questions surrounding if Tyus will return next year, and the Grizzlies undoubtedly looking to upgrade their rotation at the wing, Moore has the talent, skillset and maturity to step in day one at the very least as a high-motor defensive player.

He is also a player that if the Grizzlies decide to skip out on paying significant money to a backup point guard, whether it be Jones or someone else, you can mold him into a do-it-all guard that can run the offense while Ja is off the floor or allow him to play more off the ball with them on the court together.

At 6-5 and a 7-1 wingspan, Moore should have no issue guarding positions 1-3 at minimum and even some small-ball fours as well in spot minutes. His athleticism also allows him to make up for mistakes on the defensive end that would normally lead to an opposing bucket.

The ability to jump in to passing lanes, disrupt opposing players on ball, and simply cause chaos on the defensive end makes it easy to draw comparisons to what De’Anthony Melton has been able to do. The main difference in Moore’s game would be his playmaking ability on offense, which has been a weakness of Memphis outside of Morant and Jones.

Moore has major potential of being a Swiss Army knife off the bench in the way that Andre Iguodala did — and still does — for the Warriors during the prime of their championship run.

Many mock drafts have the 20-year-old going any where from 26-38 in the 2022 NBA Draft, but one thing the Grizzlies are known for is they will get their guy no matter the projections. If they decide to keep their No. 22 pick, it would not be surprising if they take Moore.

Memphis has struggled in the past with having too many smaller guards. Moore allows the Grizzlies to size up and fits the bill in being able to do a lot of things in a larger frame. As far as fit, you will be hard pressed to find a player that fits the Grizzlies timeline, their Grit-N-Grind mentality, and being NBA ready now like Wendell Moore.

With the Grizzlies taking what some considered to be a high-risk, high-reward approach with Ziaire Williams in the 2021 Draft, them choosing to go back to their proven roots in a player ready to play from day one could prove to be beneficial to their title-contention goals next season.

About Chris Ingram

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