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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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ANALYSIS: Memphis Grizzlies Go Big, Draft Zach Edey

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The Memphis Grizzlies entered the 2024 NBA Draft with certain needs that had to be filled. There were some interesting pre-draft trades in the hours leading up to the selection of the number one overall pick. Memphis did not make any trades before the first pick.

Terry Davis

With the ninth pick, the Grizzlies selected Zach Edey out of Purdue. This pick fills a big hole on the Grizzlies’ roster. Most experts believed that this player could have been available later if Memphis had traded back a few spots.

Edey brings the size that Memphis has been missing for a deep run into the playoffs. Edey will be a rim protector and rebounder, an area Memphis was lacking in last season. Edey should be good in the half-court game. Standing 7’4″, he may be a liability when the Grizzlies try to speed the game up, but when it slows down, he will open it up for the other players.

Edey was the NCAA National Player of the Year for the last two seasons. He averaged 25.2 points per game and 12.2 rebounds per game. He was very dominant on the inside in college. On the professional level, the name of the game is to spread it out and shoot the three. Edey led Purdue to the National Championship Game last season.

How Will Edey Fit with Memphis?

Edey’s interior presence will benefit two players in particular. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant.

With his size, his defense will help keep Jaren Jackson Jr. potentially out of foul trouble and will be a great rebounder. This should allow Jackson to resume the weak side shot blocking that earned him the name “The Block Panther” and the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year Award. Edey has good court vision and will be able to start the fast break with passes to the wings.

For Ja Morant, he can be a great screener and will command a double team when he is sitting on the blocks. If he is guarded by one player, he should have a size advantage and be able to capitalize. He will also be a good free-throw shooter, with a history of making foul shots.

In turn, defenses will have to pick their poison: sag off of Morant on his drives to the hoop or try to cover Edey one-on-one in the post? Neither of those options even considers kicking the ball to Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson to bomb away.

What Other Options Did the Grizzlies Have?

It was speculated that the Grizzlies tried to move up in the draft to select Donovan Clingan out of Connecticut. It is rumored that Clingan was the player the Grizzlies really wanted in this draft. However, Clingan fell to Portland, and they would not let him pass. Memphis tried to trade with the Detroit Pistons, but that deal fell through.

All of which may have been a smokescreen anyway. Memphis GM Zach Kleiman scoff at rumors the Grizz attempted to trade up: “I haven’t seen that reported anywhere.” Then he went a step further.

“We could not be more thrilled to land (Zach) in this draft,” Kleiman said. “Let’s just say, this is exactly what we were hoping would happen.

“I’m saying this is how we wanted the draft to play out,”

Kleiman’s Reaction

Kleiman raved about Edey being a cultural fit: “Zach Edey is a special player. His care factor is through the roof. He has no ego and just wants to win. He has year over year of actual improvements. When you talk about the DNA of this team and what we are trying to build now, to a tee, Zach Edey is that definition.”

Edey is on the training camp roster for Team Canada for the Olympics this year. It is not clear if he will be available to be on the Grizzlies Summer League team.

Next up for the Grizzlies will be the free agency market. Last season, they picked up Marcus Smart in the opening days of July. The free agent market is where they will have to fill some other needs the team has. The NBA Summer League in Las Vegas will run from July 12-22.

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