The Memphis Grizzlies enter tonight’s NBA Draft in possession of two first-round picks (Nos. 22 & 29) and one selection in the second round (No. 47). With plenty of personnel decisions looming ahead this offseason, the Grizzlies can’t afford to miss out on the hometown hero Kennedy Chandler.
Starring in his one season at the University of Tennessee, Chandler showcased his ability to run an offense under head coach Rick Barnes’ tutelage. The point guard averaged 13.9 PPG, starting in all 34 games as a freshman.
Chandler’s offensive efficiency is what excites scouts at the NBA level. His ability to score in the lane and around the rim makes him one of the top point guards in this year’s class. Chandler also shot 38.3% from three, making him a threat to score from anywhere on the floor.
While he did not have any trouble putting the ball in the basket in college, Chandler’s height has been a topic of discussion. Standing at 6’1”, there has been plenty of buzz about a potential draft night slip late into the first round, which is where the Grizzlies will be lurking barring a trade.
The point guard crop in this year’s draft is the weakest it’s been in years. Obviously, the position has changed. Dyson Daniels and TyTy Washington a couple of combo guards, but first true point guard on my board is Kennedy Chandler and he’s a likely late-1st rounder due to size.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) June 21, 2022
Though undersized, Chandler’s wingspan is measured at 6’5”. Vols fans witnessed the impact Chandler’s length had on the defensive end last season. The 19-year-old finished second in the SEC, averaging 2.1 steals per game. He was defensive menace in big games for the Big Orange.
Chandler’s style on both ends match how head coach Taylor Jenkins and his Grizzlies prefer to play. That is running up-and-down with plenty of pace and giving maximum effort on defense. Plus, Chandler thrives in the pick-and-roll, which is a tactic the Grizzlies implement often.
For these reasons it should come as no surprise that Memphis called in Chandler for a solo workout earlier in the week. It is important to note that this would be Chandler’s only individual workout throughout the pre-draft process.
Tennessee PG Kennedy Chandler says on the show his workout with the Grizzlies earlier this week was a solo workout. Was his only solo workout of the pre-draft process.— John Martin (@JohnMartin929) June 22, 2022
Memphis has difficult decisions to make on backup PG Tyus Jones and SF Kyle Anderson once free agency begins. Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke, and De’Anthony Melton are a few pieces that have been tossed around in trade rumors as well.
No matter what happens with Jones, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the Grizzlies are in need of point guard depth. Ja Morant’s explosive style of play led to multiple injuries this season, which only strengthen the case for the team to add another point guard for depth purposes.
OOOOOOO WOW LET’S GET WEIRD pic.twitter.com/myWIJYnqhq— Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA) June 20, 2022
There is an undeniable attraction between the Grizzlies and Chandler. Chandler was raised in Memphis and played his high school basketball at Briarcrest Christian School before transferring to finish up at Sunrise Christian in Kansas.
Morant is one of Chandler’s biggest supporters, going as far to tweet out his support following Tennessee’s SEC Championship victory.
kennedy chandler ‼️— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) March 19, 2022
On the surface, this is a match made in Heaven but at the end of the day nobody truly knows what the Grizzlies will do this evening. Multiple reports have surfaced detailing Memphis’ interest in moving up in the draft. However, if Memphis is on the clock and Chandler is on the board, I wouldn’t expect it to take much time before the team turns in its card with Chandler’s name printed across it.
Featured image via Trevor Ruszkowski – USA TODAY Sports