The Memphis Grizzlies presented their four 2022 NBA draft picks on Friday inside the FedExForum as they sat between coach Taylor Jenkins and general manager Zach Kleiman.
Each player had family members attached to the side. As the rookies — Jake LaRavia, David Roddy, Kennedy Chandler and Vince Williams Jr. — answered questions, Kleiman and Jenkins looked on with bright smiles on their faces.
Responding to those same questions, the next generation of Grizzlies rookies reflected on the crazy past 18 hours that brought them to a franchise on the brink of the NBA title race.
Williams: “It’s weird, for sure, because I don’t know how to feel yet. It hasn’t really hit me yet.
Chandler (Memphis native): “It’s a very special moment, especially for me to be able to play for my hometown team, to be here right now with all my friends and family here.”
Roddie: “I’m still on adrenaline right now. I don’t know how to feel still. It’s unreal.”
Laravia: “It’s a dream come true. I’ve dreamed of this moment since I was a kid.”
The press conference ended with the players taking pictures and getting their new shirt numbers. LaRavia received No. 3, Roddy No. 27, Chandler No. 0 and Williams No. 5.
Here’s more of what each player had to say during their introductory press conference, and some of the takeaways.
The competitive nature is there
The competitive nature of Williams and LaRavia began to show as they recalled a college matchup against each other. They played in the second round of the NIT in a game where LaRavia’s Wake Forest team defeated VCU 80-74. Williams scored 27 points, but LaRavia, who scored 15 points, had the last laugh.
“He cooked us, but we won,” LaRavia said.
The encounter drew smiles and laughs from Jenkins.
“You’ve seen the competitive fire I think they’re holding back right now,” Jenkins said. “I think they deal with a lot of emotions. These guys are natural fits.”
One facet of the game that has become popular in the Grizzlies locker room is their chatter. This is one of the areas where LaRavia fits perfectly.
“That’s one of my favorite parts of the game, talking about trash,” LaRavia said. “I’m good at it.”
The biggest takeaway from the Grizzlies’ draft class was their focus on versatile players. Each draft pick rebounds well for their position, defends, and shoots 3-pointers.
LaRavia is a 6-foot-7 forward who has played a lot of collegiate minutes at small forward and power forward. He shed light on which position is the most comfortable for him.
“I’m very comfortable on the wing,” LaRavia said. “I think it’s my favorite position. I’m very versatile, so I think I can play in several positions.”
Roddy is 6-5, but his bulky 255-pound frame is the reason he’s played all over Colorado State. Although he profiles himself as a player who can play small forward and power forward minutes, he also played small ball center minutes in college.
“I’m more of the attacking type, three or four,” Roddy said. “At Colorado State, our offense was four-to-one, so I had a lot of reps around the 3-point line as well as at the post.”
The future of Danny Green
NBA veteran Danny Green was announced as part of the trade that gave the Grizzlies the right to draft Roddy. Green tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the playoffs with the Philadelphia 76ers and will not be available at the start of the season.
He is in the final year of a two-year contract and is expected to earn $10 million. Zach Kleiman said “TBD” about Green’s future in Memphis.
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Roddy, who grew up in Minnesota and played AAU basketball with little brother Tyus Jones, called the Grizzlies point guard one of his mentors. Jones texted Roddy before the draft and before his draft practice with the Grizzlies.
The obvious connection to Grizzlies basketball comes between star Ja Morant and Chandler, who have an established relationship and have worked together in the past.
“I think the backcourt will be nice and fun with me and Ja,” Chandler said. “I’m delighted to be able to play alongside him and to be able to learn from him as well.”