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VOL. 129 | NO. 125 | Friday, June 27, 2014

Grizzlies Draft UCLA's Adams, Memphis Native Stokes

By Don Wade

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Whether it will prove to be a telling remembrance or not, news of the Grizzlies selecting guard UCLA shooting guard Jordan Adams with the No. 22 overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft was largely met with mild disdain, sweeping indifference and a dash of tilt-your-head curiosity.

At least that’s the judgment based on reaction on Twitter and from media gathered in the bowels of FedExForum. Utah selected Duke forward Rodney Hood at 23 and Charlotte picked Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier at 24, and Miami snatched up guard P.J. Hairston (the NBDL and North Carolina) at 26.

And those were just three of the what-ifs after the Grizzlies selected Adams.

“If you like a guy, you like him,” said Grizzlies interim director of basketball operations Chris Wallace. “He was the highest-ranked guy on our board so we were going to take him.”

”The tires were kicked time and time again,” Wallace said of the Grizzlies’ vetting process and the discussions in the team’s war room on draft night.

By conventional numbers, Adams was a 17.4 points-per-game scorer for the Bruins last season and shot 35.6 percent from 3-point range. In two seasons, he averaged a school-record 2.43 assists. He is 6-foot-5 and 209 pounds.

“It’s the greatest feeling in my life,” Adams said of being drafted. “That’s a team I see myself fitting in with.”

Far more stir was created by what the Grizzlies did next: acquiring forward Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee) from Utah after the Jazz selected him in the second round with the 35th overall pick. The Grizzlies sent the Jazz a 2016 second-round pick.

Stokes, a native Memphian, is 6-foot-9 and 263 and was more than a little bit physical in college. He averaged 15.1 points and 10.6 rebounds last season for the Vols as a junior. He led the Southeastern Conference in offensive rebounding in each of his final two years. His 40 career double-doubles ranks fourth in Vols history.

“I have a lot to prove,” Stokes said Thursday night. “But I couldn’t be in a better situation then my hometown team. I think I can make an impact right away.”

Wallace agrees, at least in terms of rebounding.

“We’ve never had a guy in our bullpen, so to speak, who’s a tough guy, a rebounder,” Wallace said, adding that a guy like Stokes would have been helpful in the lost first-round playoff series against the L.A. Clippers in 2012 when Reggie Evans caused all kinds of trouble for the Grizzlies.

“Everybody knows rebounding is my bread and butter,” Stokes said. “But I don’t think people give me enough credit for how much work I put in in the offensive end of my game.”

The top three picks overall in Thursday night’s draft were No. 1: Andrew Wiggins, Cleveland (Kansas); No. 2: Jabari Parker, Milwaukee (Duke); No. 3: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia (Kansas).

None of the four University of Memphis senior guards heard his name called Thursday night as Joe Jackson, Geron Johnson, Chris Crawford and Michael Dixon Jr. all went undrafted. Vols shooting guard Jordan McRae went 58th overall to San Antonio.

Only two players on the current Grizzlies roster were drafted by the team: Mike Conley, at No. 4 in 2007, and Jamaal Franklin at No. 41 in 2013. The current roster does not include any first-round picks from the previous three drafts (2011, 2012, 2013). The most recent first-round selections on the Grizzlies’ roster are Ed Davis (No. 13 by Toronto in 2010) and Quincy Pondexter (drafted No. 28 and traded on draft night to New Orleans in 2010).

Wallace believes it is possible both Stokes and Adams could be immediate contributors, but also said that’s not the first priority when drafting players.

“That’s not the purpose of this exercise,” he said, adding, “You’re trying to get someone that has long-term value.”

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